Couple looking out a window
Couple looking out a window

Treatment Guide

YOU COME FIRST! Psoriasis is a chronic, and chronically recurring skin condition that can have a significant impact on your life and even those around you. Along with taking your medication exactly as it is prescribed by your doctor, there are other ways to take care of your skin and yourself so that you can be your best self. In this way you can play an important role in feeling better. The following tips have been developed for individuals who have psoriasis.

Skin Protection

Psoriasis makes your skin sensitive, so taking proper care of your skin can help reduce symptoms. These tips may help:

  • Use gentle, unscented soaps and avoid skincare products that contain alcohol that can have a drying effect.
  • Avoid scratching your skin as this may cause psoriasis patches to appear and trim your fingernails carefully.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or harsh fabrics that can irritate your skin.

Moisturization

Psoriasis makes your skin dry, which is why keeping your skin well hydrated can help reduce the dryness. These tips may help:

  • Bathe or shower no more than once a day and avoid very hot water. Before drying off completely (pat dry with a soft towel), apply a gentle skincare moisturizer on your body. In winter, a thicker moisturizer is better. You can also add a fragrance-free oil to your bath water.
  • Keep the air in your home or office moist by adding a humidifier if the air is dry.
  • Consider occluding or wrapping affected areas of your skin (e.g. pajamas, socks or a tensor bandage to keep the skin moist after applying creams. This is called occlusion therapy.
  • Choose body creams that are formulated for sensitive, compromised skin, and do not contain any harsh ingredients or alcohol.

Climate

It is believed that the weather may have an influence on your psoriasis. While your skin might improve after its exposed to sunlight, too much sun may trigger a flare and increase the risk of skin cancer. On the other hand, cold, dry air can often make your symptoms worse. “Climatotherapy” involves using the benefits of certain climates and the changes in humidity, air and barometric pressure along with balneophototherapy (BPT), i.e. a combination of treatment exclusively using light and supplemented with baths in salt water, to improve psoriasis. One example of a common place where Danish psoriasis patients go to receive Climatotherapy is at the Dead Sea in Israel. These tips may help:

  • Pay attention to how your skin reacts to certain climates. This will help you manage or avoid flare-ups.
  • If you need to be outdoors in cold, windy weather, make sure you are dressed appropriately.
  • Ensure that you wear proper sun protection when your skin is exposed to the sun, choosing products that have an SPF of at least 30, applying sufficient amounts and reapplying the protection regularly.

Lifestyle

Some studies have shown an association between weight loss and a reduction in psoriasis severity, while smoking and alcohol consumption may make psoriasis worse. These tips may help:

  • Avoid fad diets and extreme exercise and opt for a common-sense approach to eating and physical activity in order to maintain a healthy weight. Consider seeing a dietitian if you need advice on weight management.
  • While the relationship between smoking, alcohol and psoriasis is not fully known, evidence  suggests a connection. If you have psoriasis, it is recommended to stop smoking and limit  your consumption of alcohol.

Psoriasis Triggers

Triggers refer to certain factors that can cause psoriasis to flare – or become worse. While every individual is different, some triggers can include stress, cold or dry climate and infections. These tips may help:

  • Some triggers are things you may be able to control. Try to identify the factors that cause your psoriasis to flare-up and see what steps you could take to avoid them.
  • While it can be hard to manage emotional factors like stress, consider ways to reduce stress or anxiety with yoga, mindfulness, meditation and walking.

Patient Resources

There are several organizations in Canada that advocate on behalf of individuals with psoriasis and offer education and support services. These include:

Canadian Skin Patient Alliance (CSPA)  www.canadianskin.ca
Canadian Association of Psoriasis Patients (CAPP)  https://www.canadianpsoriasis.ca
Canadian Psoriasis Network (CPN)  https://www.canadianpsoriasisnetwork.com
Psoriasis NL  psoriasisnl@gmail.com
Canadian Dermatology Association  https://www.dermatology.ca