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Psoriasis Do’s + Don’ts

Certain things help alleviate symptoms, while others have been proven to make psoriasis worse. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debbie Palmer shares the advice she gives to her patients.

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BE MORE MINDFUL IN YOUR DAY

“We have scientific evidence that mindfulness reduces inflammation in the body,” explains Dr. Palmer, author of Mindful Beauty (Llewellyn, 2020).“Mindfulness, that is being aware of the present moment and not allowing your thoughts to dwell on the past or the future, reduces the activity of the amygdala, the area of the brain that regulates stress and anxiety responses.” Try taking a mindful walk in nature. Silently observe the sounds and sights around you.

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KEEP SKIN HYDRATED AT ALL TIMES

Take short, warm-water baths or showers, never hot. Hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils. After cleansing, apply a fragrance-free emollient cream within the first three minutes to lock in moisture. These moisturizers help relieve dryness, itching, and scaling. During cooler weather months, re-apply emollients several times daily and replace moisture in the air with a humidifier.

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WEAR SUNSCREEN EVERY DAY NO MATTER WHAT THE SEASON

For some psoriasis patients being out in the sun can help reduce flare-ups. Too much sun, however, can cause trauma to the skin, making psoriasis worse—why wearing SPF when you’re outdoors, even in the fall and winter, is important.

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DRINK ALCOHOL

Imbibing beer, wine, and spirits seems to trigger inflammation, worsening chronic inflammatory diseases like psoriasis.

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INJURE THE SKIN

Injuries to the skin, such as a scratch or even a razor nick, can often provoke a psoriasis flare-up in patients. Even minor itching and scratching can be a trigger. The immune system responds to this change on the skin’s surface with a flare-up. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon.

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DRINK PLENTY OF WATER

This allows the skin to maintain its water content, helping to decrease psoriasis flares. Getting enough water also benefits the entire body’s wellness—important in reducing inflammation. Keeping a filled water bottle with you at all times can help.

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A HEALTHIER MEDITERRANEAN DIET

Eating plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein like fish an help reduce inflammation, as can limiting red meat and processed foods.

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USE PRODUCTS ON YOUR SKIN THAT CONTAIN FRAGRANCE OR SULFATES

Both ingredients can cause irritation. Ingredients that have been found to be beneficial include zinc, salicylic acid (in moderation), menthol, aloe vera, and Epsom salts.