Medical treatment can go a long way toward helping you control your psoriasis. But making certain lifestyle changes also can help ease skin discomfort and minimize lifestyle flare-ups.
First steps to control your psoriasis:
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Drink plenty of water
These habits will help keep your stress levels down and your body in top condition to fight off infection.
Know your triggers
Each person experiences psoriasis in a unique way. Certain events or triggers can increase the chance of flare-ups. Here are some to watch for:
- Obesity. Plaques associated with all types of psoriasis can develop in skin folds. To get your weight into a healthy range, talk to your doctor about a weight-loss and exercise plan.
- Smoking. People with a family history of psoriasis who smoke are more likely to develop the disease. Smoking also can aggravate localized pustular psoriasis, which occurs on the palms and soles. Quitting can sometimes clear up the skin. Don't use a nicotine patch without consulting your doctor first; it could make your psoriasis worse.
- Alcohol. Heavy drinking can cause flare-ups and interfere with the effectiveness of medications. If you drink, aim for moderation; no more than one drink a day for women, two for men. Combining certain psoriasis medications with alcohol can have serious side effects, so consult your doctor first.
- Stress. There are many stress-reducers: psoriasis support groups, psychotherapy, meditation, physical exercise and prayer. Any activity that helps you to feel relaxed can be beneficial.
- Medications. Certain drugs can trigger or aggravate psoriasis flare-ups, including anti-malarials, beta-blockers (for high blood pressure) and lithium (for bipolar disorder). Corticosteroids used to treat psoriasis also can worsen psoriasis if they're overused.
- Infections and skin trauma. Certain infections can trigger either an initial occurrence or a flare-up of psoriasis. These can include thrush (Candida albicans), Staphylococcus, strep throat (Streptococcus), viral upper respiratory infections (colds, flu, pneumonia) and HIV. The good news is that treating these ailments will sometimes also derail the psoriasis, and your skin will either improve or clear.
Psoriasis often develops at the site of a skin injury, such as a scratch, cut, abrasion or puncture, or after a burn (including sunburn). When this happens, a spot develops at the injury site in 10-14 days. This occurrence is called the Koebner phenomenon. About half of all people with psoriasis experience the Koebner phenomenon at one time or another. It's more likely to happen when you already have active lesions.