Psoriasis can affect your physical and emotional well-being in negative ways. The good news is that you can live a full and active life while managing this condition. To do this, adopt a healthy lifestyle to feel good and minimize flare-ups.
1. Eat a healthful, balanced diet. Good-health guidelines endorsed by the American Heart Association and other leading health organizations including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. Cut back on full-fat dairy foods (choose low-fat or no-fat dairy foods), processed foods, and other sources of saturated fat. There is little scientific evidence to support claims that eating according to certain diets—such as an “anti-inflammatory diet”—will cure psoriasis.
2. Eliminate or at least restrict your alcohol intake. Studies show that alcoholic beverages can cause flare-ups and that drinking to excess can contribute to the development of the disease itself. So if you do drink, limit yourself to one drink a day at most.
3. Exercise regularly. Walking, biking, playing competitive sports, and swimming are all great fitness activities for staying healthy. If you swim in a pool, though, keep in mind that highly chlorinated water can irritate sensitive skin. Chlorine is also drying, so be sure to shower and moisturize immediately afterward.
4. Learn to relax. Research shows that stress can cause flare-ups. It’s impossible to totally eliminate stress from daily living, but you can minimize it. Don’t take on more tasks than you can handle. Develop a personal support network. Consider relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing techniques, or visualization. Not every approach works for everyone, so experiment to find the method that makes you feel most in control.
5. Quit smoking. Several studies have shown that smoking is associated with the risk of psoriasis and can shorten remission periods, cause flare-ups, and even make your psoriasis medications less effective. Because smoking is highly addictive, quitting can be difficult. If you need help talk with your doctor. Don’t use a nicotine patch, though, because this can worsen your condition.
6. Consider a destination vacation. Some people with psoriasis choose healing vacations to soothe their skin. Sunshine, in quantities that don’t lead to sunburn, can help with psoriasis.
7. Take good care of your skin. Dry skin worsens psoriasis, so apply emollient-rich creams and moisturizers every day, not just when you have flare-ups. Lock in the moisture your skin absorbs in the bath or shower by applying your skin cream just after you gently blot excess water. You might be more comfortable using a lighter, more fluid formula during the day to avoid feeling greasy and then a thicker cream at night.
8. Use sunscreen every day. Though sunlight is beneficial for psoriasis, sunburn can irritate your skin, worsen a psoriasis flare-up, and raise your skin cancer risk. What’s more, some psoriasis treatments make your skin extra-sensitive to the sun. So it’s very important to apply sunscreen daily, even in winter and on cloudy days. If part of your psoriasis treatment includes unprotected sun exposure, stick to the time limits outlined by your doctor and apply sunscreen to unaffected areas.
9. Communicate with your boss. If you find that your psoriasis interferes with your work, plan a talk with your manager as soon as possible. Schedule a time when neither of you is under pressure. Describe the ways that your condition may impact your working abilities, and also mention the positive attributes you bring to your work. Take a fact sheet about psoriasis to the meeting. Psoriasis is often misunderstood, so a fact sheet will help educate your manager and ease many concerns he or she might have.
10. Don’t limit your dating opportunities. When you have psoriasis, you may feel self-conscious about dating or thinking about becoming intimate. Some people withdraw from such social situations altogether; however, in the long run, this isn’t good for your emotional well-being. Talk honestly about your psoriasis when you find yourself thinking seriously about a prospective partner. You may very well find out that the condition bothers you more than anyone else.