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9 Tips for Soothing a Psoriasis Flare

  • woman looking at psoriasis
    Psoriasis flares can be unpredictable and frustrating.
    Psoriasis plaques are itchy, red, thick, and scaly. They can be irritating, painful, embarrassing, and stubborn. But don’t despair, your doctor has many powerful treatment options to help clear your skin and there are several things you can do to soothe your flare. 

  • doctor
    1. Work with your doctor.
    Your dermatologist is your best resource for information about your psoriasis, treatment options, and care of your skin. Work with your doctor to develop a plan that fits your lifestyle and goals. Have a plan in writing and follow it–even the strongest medications and therapies won’t help if you don’t use them as directed. Keep regular follow-up appointments, and call your doctor if you are unable to control a flare on your own. 

  • Smoking
    2. Recognize your triggers.
    What causes your psoriasis to flare may be different from others. When you notice a flare starting, think about what may be causing it. Common triggers of psoriasis flares include infections, stress, skin irritation, skin injury, sunburn, smoke, alcohol, and cold, dry air. Once you know some of your triggers, you may be able to stop a flare early by stepping up your psoriasis care at the first sign. And you may even be able to prevent flares by avoiding triggers in the first place.

  • woman-putting-lotion-on-arm
    3. Be gentle to your skin.
    Many people find that they get new psoriasis plaques where their skin has been scratched, rubbed, bitten, or cut. Wear soft, comfortable clothing and avoid irritating fabrics like wool, especially when your psoriasis is flaring. Protect your skin when working or playing outside. Although it may be tempting, try not to scratch the sensitive plaques. If your skin is itchy, use your topical or oral anti-itch medications, apply a cool compress, or find a distraction to keep your mind off of it.

  • Woman wearing sun hat
    4. Get some sun.
    For many people, small amounts of sun exposure can help clear psoriasis flares. Sunlight also helps your body make vitamin D, which can help calm flares. In addition, being outside can improve your mood and provide a welcome distraction. When you have a flare, try to expose the affected skin to the sun for about 10 minutes each day. If you are embarrassed about what people may think, find a private area to sit outside. Don’t forget to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to skin without plaques. And slather the sunscreen everywhere if you will be outside longer than 10 minutes.

  • Woman relaxing in bath
    5. Moisturize your skin.
    Take daily warm baths to hydrate, calm inflammation, and remove scales. But don’t sit in piping hot water, and avoid staying in the bath too long, because exposing your skin to intense heat for a long time can actually make your skin dryer. Use a gentle cleanser and add bath oils, Epsom salts, or colloidal oatmeal for extra soothing care. Gently towel dry, then immediately apply a thick moisture cream or ointment all over. Apply moisturizers at least twice a day if your skin is dry. In cold or dry weather, consider using a humidifier where you spend most of your time. 

  • Woman Drinking Water
    6. Nourish your body.
    Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet including foods rich in vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish are excellent sources of both. Vitamin D can help prevent and clear psoriasis flares, and Omega-3 fatty acids can help many inflammatory conditions, including psoriasis. If you don’t like fish, talk to your doctor about fish oil supplements. Avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol–both can cause problems for people with psoriasis.

  • Stress
    7. Manage stress.
    Stress can be both a cause and a result of a psoriasis flare. Your immune system is closely tied to your stress hormones. Especially during a flare, you will want to have tools in place to manage stress. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and talking to a counselor can all help reduce stress. Consider joining a psoriasis support group or online forum to help you deal with the issues that people with psoriasis have in common and share your frustrations and successes.

  • Woman exercising
    8. Get moving.
    When you have a flare of your psoriasis, you may want to just stay home and hide out. Resist the urge and get active to feel better and help your body fight the flare. Exercise can also help you manage your weight and reduce stress. If you are not a fan of the gym, you can still get exercise by taking long walks or even working in the yard. Call a friend to join you in a fun activity.

  • Confident Man Smiling and Looking Away
    9. Don’t give up.
    If your flare is getting better, make sure to keep up with the treatments until your doctor recommends a change. Stopping suddenly or too soon can lead to an even worse flare or a change in your psoriasis type. If your flare is not responding, talk to your doctor about options. There are many medications, laser and light treatments, and combinations of treatments that may work for you.

9 Tips for Soothing a Psoriasis Flare

About The Author

Dr. Laura Marusinec is a pediatrician with expertise in urgent care and dermatology. She has been in practice for over 17 years. She is also a freelance medical writer and editor.
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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.
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