Psoriasis Do’s + Don’ts
Certain things work to 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.
BE MORE MINDFUL IN YOUR DAY
“We have scientific evidence that mindfulness reduces inflammation in the body,” explains Dr. Palmer, who wrote the book Mindful Beauty (Llewellyn, 2020) to help people incorporate mindfulness into their lives. “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 without checking your phone. Silently observe the sounds and sights around you.
Imbibing beer, wine, and spirits seems to trigger inflammation, worsening chronic inflammatory diseases like psoriasis.
GET A SUNBURN
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 is important.
KEEP SKIN HYDRATED AT ALL TIMES
Take short, warm-water baths or showers, never hot. Hot water can strip your skin of its natural oil barrier. 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.
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.
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, which is important in reducing inflammation. Keeping a filled water bottle with you at all times can help.
A HEALTHIER MEDITERRANEAN DIET
Eating plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein like fish (see next page) can help reduce inflammation, as can limiting red meat and processed foods.
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.