Medical News Today: How to prevent psoriasis flares

By | January 15, 2019
Psoriasis is a long-term autoimmune skin condition. There is no cure, but people can use medical treatments, home remedies, and lifestyle changes to prevent psoriasis flares and reduce their severity.

Psoriasis prevention requires people with this condition to take prescription medication or to identify and avoid any psoriasis triggers. The best treatment option may vary from person to person, and understanding which methods work can make it easier to live with psoriasis.

The following article discusses 11 ways in which people can prevent psoriasis flares and reduce the severity of their symptoms.

1. Wrap up warm in cold, dry weather

Gloves and scarves piled on wooden table
Wearing gloves in cold, dry weather can help prevent psoriasis flare-ups on the hands.

Cold, dry weather can trigger psoriasis flare-ups, and people tend to have more of these in the winter.

Scientists do not fully understand why psoriasis flares are more likely in wintry weather, but some research suggests that it is because cold, dark, and low-humidity conditions can cause the skin to thicken and become inflamed.

Moving to sunnier climes may not be practical for everyone, but people can wrap up warm to reduce the skin’s exposure to cold, dry weather. By doing this, they may prevent many winter flare-ups from happening.

2. Keep the skin moisturized

Keeping the skin moisturized is a vital psoriasis prevention measure. Dry skin can trigger psoriasis flares. It can also make skin scaling more severe and cause the skin to crack and bleed.

A 2016 review notes that moisturizers containing mineral oils, such as liquid paraffin and petrolatum, may be particularly suitable for psoriasis management.

People can also use natural home remedies to moisturize their skin. These include coconut oil and aloe vera gel, which both have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Keep the scalp moisturized

People who get psoriasis on their scalp can help prevent flares by keeping the skin on this part of the body moisturized.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, tar shampoos and salicylic acid can help people manage scalp psoriasis.

4. Use a humidifier

People with psoriasis can also keep their skin moist and reduce symptoms by using a home humidifier. This device can be particularly useful in winter when the air inside the home is likely to be cold and dry.

5. Get regular exposure to sunlight

Woman outdoors gardening with sun hat on.
A person should wear sun protection when in strong sunlight.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation has immunosuppressive effects. As a result, it can help reduce symptoms of autoimmune conditions, such as psoriasis. UV light therapy is a treatment option for people with psoriasis. Learn more about light therapy for psoriasis here.

Natural sunlight contains UV rays. Exposure to short, regular bursts of sunshine may aid psoriasis prevention.

The results of a 2011 study suggested that sun exposure improved people’s psoriasis symptoms. The researchers believed that this was due to the anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects of exposure to sunlight.

6. Avoid sunburn

Warmer, humid conditions and sunlight may improve psoriasis, but this does not mean that spending extended periods in the sun is good for this skin condition.

Skin damage, including sunburn, is a common cause of psoriasis flares. People can prevent such flares by wearing sunscreen and limiting the exposure of their skin to the sun during the hottest part of the day.

7. Supplement with Vitamin D

Research has suggested that vitamin D deficiency is common in people with psoriasis, particularly in winter.

Therefore, although additional studies are necessary to confirm this link, it is possible that maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D may help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. People can get more vitamin D from:

  • natural sunlight
  • certain foods, such as salmon, milk, and fortified cereals
  • vitamin D supplements

8. Prevent skin injuries

Skin injuries can trigger the development of psoriasis lesions in areas of the body where people usually do not get them. This aspect of psoriasis is called the Koebner phenomenon.

Avoiding skin injuries where possible may help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. People can reduce the likelihood of skin injuries by:

  • taking care when cutting nails or shaving
  • avoiding tattoos or piercings
  • protecting against insect bites
  • taking care when preparing food
  • wearing gloves when doing gardening
  • avoiding dangerous activities and sports

9. Reduce stress

Stress is a potential trigger for many people with psoriasis. Some reports suggest that stressful events could trigger flare-ups in 68 percent of adults with the condition.

Taking measures to reduce stress may help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. For example:

  • avoiding stressful situations where possible
  • practicing yoga, meditation, or mindfulness
  • seeing a therapist or talking through problems with friends

10. Improve the diet

Avocado and seeds on toast on wooden table
Eating healthful fats, such as nuts and seeds, may improve skin health.

As with many areas of health, diet may play a role in psoriasis management.

A 2018 review found that dietary interventions can reduce the severity of people’s psoriasis.

For example, eating foods that reduce inflammation, such as salmon, may help improve psoriasis symptoms. Learn more about anti-inflammatory diets here.

The particular foods that trigger flare-ups of psoriasis may vary from person to person. A person can determine their food triggers by eliminating each food group in turn and noting whether or not their symptoms improve.

For people with psoriasis, it is possible that a calorie-controlled diet will improve symptoms for those who are overweight, while avoiding gluten may reduce symptom severity in those with gluten sensitivity.

11. Avoid certain medications

Some medications may trigger psoriasis flares. People with psoriasis may wish to visit a doctor to discuss whether or not their other medications can cause psoriasis flares.

Tips for managing flares

Using the treatments and lifestyle changes above can help prevent psoriasis flares from arising. However, it may not be possible to avoid all flare-ups.

Knowing how to manage flare-ups when they do happen is important. The following treatments may help:

  • regular moisturizing
  • UV light therapy
  • medicated creams
  • oral tablets
  • systemic or biologic medications

Summary

Psoriasis is a long-term autoimmune skin condition, the symptoms of which may come and go throughout a person’s lifetime.

There is no cure, but people can prevent and manage psoriasis flares using certain remedies, treatments, and lifestyle methods. These include avoiding cold, dry environments, moisturizing regularly, and eating an anti-inflammatory diet.

Several different environmental and lifestyle factors may trigger psoriasis flare-ups in some people. Understanding potential triggers and taking steps to avoid or manage them can help improve people’s psoriasis symptoms, making it easier to live with the condition.

The treatments listed in this article are available for purchase online.

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