Self-care and skincare oftentimes go hand in hand, especially when living with an autoimmune skin condition like psoriasis, which can take a toll on both your skin and your mental health. Over eight million people in the U.S. suffer from one of the five main forms of psoriasis, making it one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the country.
Individuals living with psoriasis can experience patches of thick, scaly and raised rashes on different areas of the skin. Finding a balance of skincare and self-care practices that work for you is the best way to reduce symptoms and manage flare-ups.
Cleanse and hydrate your skin
One of the most important steps in a skincare routine is to stay consistent with cleansing and moisturizing. A good rule of thumb when it comes to skincare for psoriasis is to keep your products simple and fragrance-free. This reduces the chances of irritation to the skin and the potential for more outbreaks.
Start by cleansing your skin every morning with a face wash for sensitive and dry skin and using a simple body wash instead of a harsh exfoliator. Using an exfoliator can intensify outbreaks and cause them to get worse instead of better.
Follow your cleansing routine with a thick moisturizing cream to keep the skin hydrated throughout the day. You may want to consider using a corticosteroid ointment if you’re experiencing psoriasis-induced cracking of the skin but talk with your doctor before using it for an extended period. If you’re struggling to find a skincare regime that works for you talk with a dermatologist to explore other potential treatment options.
Be cautious of cuts and scrapes
Cuts and scrapes have the potential to cause psoriasis flare-ups, especially when they’re not cared for properly. Make some time each day—before bed or after a bath or shower—to examine your skin for any signs of new cuts or scrapes.
For any new spots you may find, stop the bleeding, if there is any, and rinse the area with cool water. It’s also important to close and protect the area to prevent more damage and pain. One option is to use a liquid bandage to close the cut or scrape and protect it from debris or becoming infected.
This quick act of self-care will help prevent psoriasis flare-ups or prevent them from worsening.
Enjoy some time in the sun
Spending time in the sun daily is a great self-care option for psoriasis, as the sun’s healing rays can help improve irritated areas. The UVB rays from the sun help slow down the rate at which those with psoriasis experience skin growth and shedding. The sun also helps the body produce more vitamin D which helps reduce inflammation and can heal and prevent psoriasis plaques.
Ten minutes in the sun each day is a natural way to help clear up psoriasis symptoms. However, it's important to note that while the sun can help with psoriasis flare-ups, it can still cause damage and even lead to skin cancer. Whether or not you’re experiencing psoriasis flare ups, always be sure to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and wear an SPF of at least 30.
Prioritize stress management
While there are many psoriasis triggers, such as smoking or alcohol consumption, stress also plays a large role. The psoriasis-stress cycle describes the connection between psoriasis flare-ups and high-stress levels, especially when stressful or traumatic life events occur. Therefore, it’s important to make time to relax every day and manage your stress, whether you’re experiencing a psoriasis flareup or are in remission.
Using self-care to manage stress and psoriasis can be a daunting task when you’re unsure of where to start or if you’re used to putting others first. Here are a few suggestions on where to begin:
- Daily exercise - getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day can make you feel happier and help release any negative thoughts you may be feeling.
- Meditation – even 10 minutes of quiet mindfulness can make a difference.
- Creative activities – set aside some time every day to indulge in an activity that relaxes your mind—and gives you joy—like painting, reading or even taking a bath.
Whatever your activity of choice may be, practicing self-care is an important way to reduce stress and manage your psoriasis.
Creating the perfect routine that works for you
Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with psoriasis or you’ve had it most of your life, it’s important to create a self-care routine that helps you manage your symptoms and live life to the fullest.
Remember that it’s okay to be continuously trying new things that work for you and your body. The perfect routine does not happen overnight, so make a list of the activities that help you and write notes for what’s working and what’s not. Eventually, you’ll fall into the groove of things and be comfortable with managing psoriasis both in and out of remission.
For more information about psoriasis and other skin conditions, check out these articles:
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