Psoriasis: Practical Tips for Minimizing Flare-ups

Written by Valerie Hanft, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on March 12, 2015 One Comment

psoriasis treatments

Many people think that the only way to treat the symptoms of psoriasis is with prescription medications. While these may indeed be the most effective option, there are some simple and easy lifestyle changes that can help calm symptom flare-ups, soothe itching, remove scales, and heal inflamed skin.

Hydrate Regularly

Maintaining a proper level of skin moisture is one of the simplest yet most effective means of helping your skin. Hydrated skin reduces the negative symptoms brought out by psoriasis. Proper skin hydration is also necessary for healing.

Use a good skin moisturizer throughout the day, especially after your bath or shower when your pores are most receptive to absorption. Reapply any time you change your clothes and increase the number of applications if it’s cold or dry outside.

Find the right moisturizer for your skin. Ointments are thick, heavy, and good at locking in moisture; lotions are thinner and absorb more quickly; creams fall somewhere in between.

Minimize Stress

It is well documented that stress spurs outbreaks of psoriasis symptoms. Many people can trace their first instance of an outbreak to a specific stressful life event. However, the reverse is also true: by lowering your stress levels you can reduce psoriasis outbreaks.

There are many things you can do to help your body better cope with stress including:

  • Seek the support of your family and friends
  • Exercise daily
  • Practice yoga and meditation
  • Eat a healthier diet
  • Get a sufficient amount of sleep each night

Be Soft on Your Skin

Don’t wear clothing that is made with rough or scratchy fabrics; instead opt for natural cotton based apparel. Also avoid products that could be harsh on your skin including skincare products that utilize alcohol and excessive fragrance as they can irritate your skin.

Soothing Baths

A nice warm (not hot!) daily bath using a natural mild soap will help sooth common psoriasis related itchiness and irritation while also removing dry skin. You can add oil, Epsom salt, or finely ground oatmeal for even more relief. However be sure to stay away from hot water and harsh soaps (especially ones with added fragrance).

When done, make sure to pat yourself dry rather than scrubbing the skin with your towel. Once you are dry, moisturize immediately.

Don’t Scratch!

It can be a challenge to not scratch when your skin becomes itchy and irritated. Scratching the skin can cause tearing; the perfect channel for germs to penetrate the skin and cause infection. When you have an urge, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and gently rub on moisturizer instead.

Get Some Sun (in small doses)

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light (and even indoor lighting) can soothe psoriasis symptoms and heal psoriasis lesions. Try to get out in the sun two to three times a week. Make sure to use a good sunscreen. Before getting started with UV therapy make sure to consult your dermatologist.

When these simple measures are not enough, dermatologists have numerous treatment options to offer. Prescription creams such as steroids can keep mild cases of psoriasis under excellent control. Lightbox therapy in a doctor’s office can also be quite effective if topical therapy alone is not working well. Oral medications can also be used in more stubborn cases. In recent years, injectable drugs called biologics have allowed dermatologists to get even the most difficult psoriasis under control. These biologic medications are effective as they target specific aspects of the immune system that are responsible for the disease.  With so many options and recent advances, psoriasis has become a very treatable condition.


Valerie Hanft, MD

Valerie Hanft, MD is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is a member of the Travis County Medical Association. Dr. Hanft received her Dermatology specialty training at the University of Michigan. Her professional interests are in pediatric dermatology, clinical research and medical dermatology. Dr. Hanft sees patients at our Westlake location.

One Response to “Psoriasis: Practical Tips for Minimizing Flare-ups”

  1. Avatar Karen says:

    Many thanks for sharing this good write-up. Very interesting stuff!

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