Self-management

Although self-help measures won't cure psoriasis, they may help improve the appearance and feel of damaged skin. These measures may benefit you:

  • Take daily baths. Bathing daily helps remove scales and calm inflamed skin. Add bath oil, colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts to the water and soak. Avoid hot water and harsh soaps, which can worsen symptoms; use lukewarm water and mild soaps that have added oils and fats. Soak about 10 minutes then gently pat dry skin.
  • Use moisturizer. After bathing, apply a heavy, ointment-based moisturizer while your skin is still moist. For very dry skin, oils may be preferable — they have more staying power than creams or lotions do and are more effective at preventing water from evaporating from your skin. During cold, dry weather, you may need to apply a moisturizer several times a day.
  • Expose your skin to small amounts of sunlight. A controlled amount of sunlight can improve psoriasis, but too much sun can trigger or worsen outbreaks and increase the risk of skin cancer. First ask your doctor about the best way to use natural sunlight to treat your skin. Log your time in the sun, and protect skin that isn't affected by psoriasis with sunscreen.
  • Avoid psoriasis triggers, if possible. Find out what triggers, if any, worsen your psoriasis and take steps to prevent or avoid them. Infections, injuries to your skin, stress, smoking and intense sun exposure can all worsen psoriasis.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol consumption may decrease the effectiveness of some psoriasis treatments. If you have psoriasis, avoid alcohol. If you do drink, keep it moderate.

Coping with psoriasis can be a challenge, especially if the disease covers large areas of your body or is in places readily seen by other people, such as your face or hands. The ongoing, persistent nature of the disease and the treatment challenges only add to the burden.

Here are some ways to help you cope and to feel more in control:

  • Get educated. Find out as much as you can about the disease and research your treatment options. Understand possible triggers of the disease, so you can better prevent flare-ups. Educate those around you — including family and friends — so they can recognize, acknowledge and support your efforts in dealing with the disease.
  • Follow your doctor's recommendations. If your doctor recommends certain treatments and lifestyle changes, be sure to follow them. Ask questions if anything is unclear.
  • Find a support group. Consider joining a support group with other members who have the disease and know what you're going through. You may find comfort in sharing your experience and struggles and meeting people who face similar challenges. Ask your doctor for information on psoriasis support groups in your area or online.
  • Use cover-ups when you feel it necessary. On those days when you feel particularly self-conscious, cover the psoriasis with clothing or use cosmetic cover-up products, such as body makeup or a concealer. These products can mask redness and psoriasis plaques. They can irritate the skin, however, and shouldn't be used on open sores, cuts or unhealed lesions.