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Living with psoriasis can be challenging, with its persistent symptoms and frequent flare-ups affecting both physical comfort and emotional well-being. Managing this chronic skin condition requires a multifaceted approach that goes beyond medical treatments. Home-based self-care strategies can play a crucial role in alleviating symptoms and improving quality of life. This article outlines effective psoriasis self-care strategies that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine to help manage the disease.

psoriasis self-care

Living with Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition characterized by the rapid growth of skin cells, leading to thick, scaly patches. Affecting approximately 2% of the global population, it is particularly prevalent among people of European descent but also affects South Asians and also Southeast Asians who come to Chinese Doc Singapore to receive treatment.

The symptoms of psoriasis include patches of thick, red skin with silvery-white scales that itch or burn, commonly appearing on the elbows, knees, scalp, trunk, palms, and soles of the feet. Other symptoms include dry, cracked skin that may itch or bleed, thick, ridged, or pitted nails, and poor sleep quality.

Many well-known individuals, including celebrities like British actress and model Cara Delevingne, have openly shared their experiences with psoriasis. The term “Cara Delevingne psoriasis” is an encouragement to psoriasis sufferers around the world, because her openness about the condition has led to its increasing acceptibility by people who otherwise would not know that psoriasis is not contagious.

While there is no cure for psoriasis, various treatments are available to manage symptoms. The better-known treatments include topical creams,  ointments, shampoos, light therapy and immunosuppressants. The lesser known treatments include traditional chinese medicine and acupuncture. At our clinic, we also know of South Asian patients who have done well with Ayurvedic medicine and homeopathy.

1. Moisturize Regularly

Moisturizing is essential for keeping the skin hydrated and reducing dryness. Use a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer or ointment and apply it several times a day, especially after showering. 

Because dryness exacerbates psoriasis symptoms, moisturizing regularly helps to:

  • Lock in moisture: Moisturizers create a barrier on the skin that prevents moisture from escaping, keeping the skin hydrated and supple.
  • Reduce dryness: Dry skin can irritate psoriasis and make symptoms worse. Moisturizing helps to reduce dryness and keep the skin hydrated.
  • Soothe itching: Moisturizers can help soothe itchy skin, which then reduces scrstching.

2. Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out toxins and keep the skin hydrated. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day and avoid sugary drinks that can dehydrate the body. This helps to:

  • Flush out toxins: Drinking water helps to remove toxins from the body, which can contribute to psoriasis symptoms.
  • Keep the skin hydrated: Drinking water keeps the skin hydrated from the inside out, reducing dryness and irritation.
  • Improve digestion: Adequate hydration can improve digestion. Because the gut and skin are intricately connected, aiding digestion will help manage psoriasis symptoms.

3. Manage Stress

Stress can trigger psoriasis flares, so it’s crucial to manage stress levels. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to reduce stress and promote relaxation. This helps to:

  • Reduce stress: Stress can exacerbate psoriasis symptoms, so managing stress levels is essential.
  • Promote relaxation: Relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can improve overall well-being.
  • Improve sleep: Stress can disrupt sleep patterns, which can worsen psoriasis symptoms. Managing stress can improve sleep quality.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation can worsen psoriasis symptoms. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and prioritize a consistent sleep schedule to help regulate the immune system. This self-care psoriasis tip helps you:

  • Regulate the immune system: Sleep plays a crucial role in regulating the immune system, which can help manage psoriasis symptoms.
  • Reduce inflammation: Sleep can help reduce inflammation, which is a hallmark of psoriasis.
  • Improve mood: Adequate sleep can improve mood and reduce stress, which can help manage psoriasis symptoms.

5. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health. Engage in low-impact exercises like yoga, walking or cycling to manage psoriasis symptoms. This helps to:

  • Reduce stress: Exercise can help reduce stress levels, which can exacerbate psoriasis symptoms.
  • Improve mood: Exercise can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression, which can worsen psoriasis symptoms.

Improve sleep: Regular exercise can improve sleep quality, which can help manage psoriasis symptoms.

6. Avoid Irritants

Avoid using harsh soaps, detergents, or other products that can irritate the skin. Opt for gentle, fragrance-free products that are designed for sensitive skin. This helps to:

  • Reduce irritation: Avoiding harsh products can reduce irritation and discomfort associated with psoriasis.
  • Prevent dryness: Gentle products can help keep the skin hydrated and prevent dryness.
  • Reduce inflammation: Irritants can trigger inflammation, which can worsen psoriasis symptoms.

7. Use Cool Compresses

Cool compresses can help reduce inflammation and itching associated with psoriasis. Soak a cloth in cool water, wring it out, and apply it to the affected area for 10-15 minutes. 

Better yet, use cool compresses made up of herbs like dandelion or scutellaria. Compresses help to:

  • Reduce inflammation: Cool compresses can help reduce inflammation, which is a hallmark of psoriasis.
  • Soothe itching: Cool compresses can help soothe itchy skin, reducing discomfort and promoting relaxation.
  • Improve circulation: Cool compresses can help improve circulation, which can reduce inflammation and improve overall health.

8. Try Topical Treatments

Another psoriasis self care treatment is the application of topical creams or ointments directly on the psoriasis lesions. Vitamin D analogues like calcipotriene or calcitriol have historically been helpful and with little side effect, unlike topical steroids. Topical steroids are another kind of topical treatment but come with many red flags. Coal tar is another topical treatment that has proven to work. Lastly, we have herbal applications in the form of Chinese herbs that have been shown to be effective through the centuries.  

Topical treatments work directly on the psoriasis lesion and help to reduce inflammation, slow down skin cell growth and even reduce itching and redness:

  • Reduce inflammation: Topical treatments can help reduce inflammation, which is a hallmark of psoriasis.
  • Slow down skin cell growth: Topical treatments can help slow down skin cell growth, reducing the appearance of psoriasis patches.
  • Improve symptoms: Topical treatments can help improve symptoms of psoriasis, such as itching and redness.

9. Use Light Therapy

Light therapy, such as ultraviolet B (UVB) light, can help reduce psoriasis symptoms by slowing down skin cell growth. In some cases, phototherapy is used in tandem with coal tar in a method called Goeckerman Therapy.

In summary, light therapy (also known as phototherapy) can:

  • Slow down skin cell growth: Light therapy can help slow down skin cell growth, reducing the appearance of psoriasis patches.
  • Reduce inflammation: Light therapy can help reduce inflammation, which is a hallmark of psoriasis.
  • Improve symptoms: Light therapy can help improve symptoms of psoriasis, such as itching and redness.

10. Use Chinese Medicine for Psoriasis

It is a pity that many people suffering from Psoriasis are not aware that Chinese Herbal medicine is very effective in treating scalp psoriasis, plaque psoriasis and even guttate psoriasis.

Chinese herbs like Dictamnus and Sophora Japonica are just some of the herbs used by experienced Chinese doctors to treat acute and chronic psoriasis.

Patients being treated for psoriasis using Chinese medicine can even report positive effects as early as one week into herbal therapy.

There are also patients who respond positively after just one session of acupuncture for psoriasis.

In summary, Chinese medicine or TCM is able to:

  • Reduce inflammation and autoimmunity: There are many Chinese herbs which are able to  reduce system inflammation and autoimmunity  in the body. One session of acupuncture alone is able to reduce inflammation at the epidermis.
  • Slow down skin cell growth: Chinese herbs are able to balance out Th1 and Th17 excesses, which then slows down hyperkeratosis and the appearance of psoriatic plaques.
  • Improve symptoms: When Chinese medicine and acupuncture reduce inflammation and slow down skin cell growth, many of the symptoms of psoriasis begin fading away.

11. Eat a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help manage psoriasis symptoms. Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks that can exacerbate symptoms. This helps to:

  • Reduce inflammation: A balanced diet can help reduce inflammation, which is a hallmark of psoriasis.
  • Improve digestion: A balanced diet can improve digestion, which can help manage psoriasis symptoms.
  • Boost immune system: A balanced diet can boost the immune system, which can help manage psoriasis symptoms.

12. Avoid Smoking

Smoking can worsen psoriasis symptoms and increase the risk of developing other health conditions. Quit smoking to improve overall health and manage psoriasis symptoms. This helps to:

  • Reduce inflammation: Smoking can trigger inflammation, which can worsen psoriasis symptoms.
  • Improve circulation: Quitting smoking can improve circulation, which can reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
  • Reduce risk of other health conditions: Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of developing other health conditions, such as heart disease and lung cancer.

13. Practice Good Hygiene

Practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently, especially after touching the affected area. Avoid sharing personal items like towels or clothing to prevent the spread of psoriasis. This helps to:

  • Prevent the spread of psoriasis: Good hygiene practices can prevent the spread of psoriasis to other areas of the body.
  • Reduce irritation: Good hygiene practices can reduce irritation and discomfort associated with psoriasis.
  • Improve overall health: Good hygiene practices can improve overall health and reduce the risk of developing other health conditions.

14. Use Oatmeal Baths

Oatmeal baths can help soothe itchy skin and reduce inflammation associated with psoriasis. Add colloidal oatmeal to your bath water or use an oatmeal bath product. This psoriasis self care helps to:

  • Soothe itching: Oatmeal baths can help soothe itchy skin, reducing discomfort and promoting relaxation.
  • Reduce inflammation: Oatmeal baths can help reduce inflammation, which is a hallmark of psoriasis.
  • Improve circulation: Oatmeal baths can help improve circulation, which can reduce inflammation and improve overall health.

15. Keep a Symptom Journal

Keeping a symptom journal can help you track your psoriasis symptoms and identify patterns. This can help you better manage your symptoms and communicate more effectively with your healthcare provider. This helps you to:

  • Track symptoms: Keeping a symptom journal can help you track your psoriasis symptoms and identify patterns.
  • Identify triggers: Keeping a symptom journal can help you identify triggers that exacerbate your psoriasis symptoms.
  • Communicate effectively with your healthcare provider: Keeping a symptom journal can help you communicate more effectively with your healthcare provider, ensuring you receive the best possible care.

Conclusion

Managing psoriasis is a continuous journey that involves both medical treatments and self-care practices. By incorporating these 15 psoriasis self-care tips into your daily routine, you can take proactive steps towards reducing symptoms and improving your overall well-being. 

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FAQs

1. Should I Use Coal Tar for Psoriasis?

Coal tar is a viable treatment option for psoriasis, particularly for scalp psoriasis and difficult-to-treat psoriasis on the palms and soles. It can effectively treat plaque-type psoriasis, itch, and scalp psoriasis, especially if itch is the main symptom. 

Coal tar can also be used long term and is considered safe for long-term use, although some individuals may need to avoid it due to potential side effects or interactions with other medications.

2. Are Immunosuppressant Therapies Safe for Psoriasis?

Immunosuppressant therapies, such as methotrexate and ciclosporin, can be effective treatments for psoriasis, but they come with potential risks and side effects. While they can be safe to use for psoriasis, it is crucial to carefully weigh the benefits against the potential risks and to follow the guidance of a healthcare professional. 

Methotrexate (MTX) can cause nausea, fatigue, and liver damage, and is not recommended for pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant. Ciclosporin can cause kidney damage, high blood pressure, and increased risk of infections, and is not recommended for women of child-bearing age.

3. Are Biologics Safer Than Cyclosporine for Psoriasis?

Biologics are generally considered safer than cyclosporine for psoriasis treatment. Biologics target specific parts of the immune system, reducing the risk of side effects compared to cyclosporine, which affects the entire immune system. 

Biologics have fewer side effects, such as skin reactions, diarrhea, and headaches, and are more effective in controlling psoriasis symptoms, especially for severe cases, making them a preferred option for many patients.

4. Is MTX Effective for Psoriasis?

MTX is effective in treating moderate to severe psoriasis, particularly for skin lesions, nail changes, and psoriatic arthritis. It works by blocking enzymes and cells that cause inflammation, slowing down skin cell growth, and healing scales on the skin. While it is widely used, its effectiveness can vary, and response rates are generally lower compared to newer biologics. 

Common side effects include nausea, fatigue, and liver damage. MTX is often prescribed as a first-line therapy due to its low cost and widespread availability, but its tolerability and toxicity can be significant concerns.

5. Is Humira Effective for Psoriatic Arthritis?

Humira (adalimumab) is used to treat psoriatic arthritis (PsA) by reducing inflammation and joint pain. It is effective in improving symptoms and can be used in combination with other treatments. 

Humira is part of a class of medications called biologics that target specific parts of the immune system. It is commonly used for PsA and other autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. While it is generally well-tolerated, side effects can include injection site reactions, headache, fatigue, and increased risk of infections.

6. Can Enbrel Treat Psoriasis?

Yes, Enbrel (Etanercept) is approved to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It works by blocking tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and can be effective in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

7. Can Cimzia Treat Psoriasis?

Yes, Cimzia (Certolizumab Pegol) is approved to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It targets TNF and can help reduce inflammation and joint pain.

8. Can Stelara Treat Psoriasis?

Yes, Stelara (Ustekinumab) is approved to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It blocks interleukin-12 and interleukin-23, which are involved in the immune response that causes psoriasis.

9. Can Cosentyx Treat Psoriasis?

Yes, Cosentyx (Secukinumab) is approved to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It targets interleukin-17A and can be effective in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

10. Can Skyrizi Treat Psoriasis?

Yes, Skyrizi (Risankizumab) is approved to treat psoriasis. It targets interleukin-23 and can be effective in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

11. Can Tremfya Treat Psoriasis?

Yes, Tremfya (Guselkumab) is approved to treat psoriasis. It is a biologic medication that targets interleukin-23 (IL-23), which is involved in the immune response that causes psoriasis. Tremfya is given by injection and is used to treat moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis in adults who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy.

12. Can Ilumya Treat Psoriasis?

Yes, Ilumya (Tildrakizumab-asmn) is approved to treat psoriasis. It is a biologic medication that targets interleukin-23 (IL-23) and is used to treat moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis in adults who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy. Ilumya is given by injection and is administered at weeks 0, 4, and every 12 weeks thereafter.

13. What Triggers Psoriasis?

Psoriasis can be triggered by various factors, including stress, cold and dry weather, heavy consumption of certain foods, certain medications, infections, skin injuries, and smoking. Understanding these triggers can help individuals take steps to manage their symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

14. What is The Best Lifestyle for Psoriasis?

A healthy lifestyle can significantly help manage and reduce symptoms of psoriasis. Key components include quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy, balanced diet, managing stress, protecting skin, and getting enough sleep. These lifestyle changes can help reduce symptoms and improve treatment outcomes.

15. Can Psoriasis Heal on Its Own?

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that currently has no cure. While it can go through cycles of remission and flare-ups, it does not heal on its own. 

Treatment is necessary to manage symptoms and prevent complications. While western medicine has its own tools and treatment options, Chinese medicine for psoriasis treatment is often under rated. 

On top of that, understanding triggers and adopting a healthy lifestyle will always count to reducing symptoms and improving treatment outcomes.

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