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Top Strategies for Psoriasis Self-Care This Summer

written by Skye Sherman - Jun 5, 2023
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Oct 12, 2023

Photo Credit: by
Photo Credit: by

If you suffer from psoriasis, you know how uncomfortable this condition can be. You’d do anything to get relief from the itch and burn. The usual symptoms are dry, scaly skin lesions (or “plaques”) that often appear in places like your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. These itchy, sore, potentially bloody lesions are not just unsightly, they are painful and unpleasant to endure.

What’s more, according to HealthLine, “Psoriasis is a chronic, lifelong skin condition that has no cure. The most important thing you can do to manage psoriasis is work with a dermatologist to create a treatment plan that’s right for you.”

The article recommends self-care strategies to relieve symptoms during periods of psoriasis activity, as the condition usually has periods of remission interrupted by flare-ups when the condition is active or aggravated. Good self-care can also help extend those periods of remission. Psoriasis is linked to immune or autoimmune issues from systemic inflammation, which can be managed if you work at it.

Severe cases may prevent you from living your life because you want to avoid showing your skin. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to soothe psoriasis this summer. Below, we’ll take a look at the top psoriasis facts in 2023 so you have all the information you need to soothe psoriasis and do what you can to prevent flare-ups.

Top psoriasis facts in 2023

Many people with psoriasis can feel isolated or alone, but believe it or not, more than 8 million people in the U.S. alone live with psoriasis. Any patient with psoriasis is in good company.

There is not currently a cure for psoriasis. However, as the National Psoriasis Foundation points out, “A world without psoriatic disease and the related burdens is possible.” The organization is dedicated to finding a cure.

Fortunately, research on psoriasis is being conducted all the time. According to recent research on psoriasis, “Psoriasis affects people worldwide, with the prevalence being higher in Western countries that have older populations and higher income, but individuals in countries with a lower prevalence of psoriasis are also considerably affected.”

The report also offers this example: “One global review estimated the prevalence of psoriasis in the US to be 1.4%, about 7 times its estimated prevalence of psoriasis in China (0.21%). Nevertheless, the large population of China results in 2.3 million people affected by psoriasis, and thus, China has the third highest estimated number of patients with psoriasis in the world.”

The report concluded, “Further research is needed to determine the degree to which these differences between the basic demographics of patients with psoriasis in China vs in Western populations are due to differences in health systems, environment, culture, and/or genetic and biologic factors.”

As you can see, scientists and medical professionals are working hard to determine what is behind psoriasis and what doctors and researchers can do to provide relief.

Can sleeping, smoking, or drinking affect psoriasis?

One thing we know helps is getting high-quality sleep. Lack of sleep and sleep deprivation can activate inflammation, worsening psoriasis.

In fact, according to HealthLine, “A 2016 research review found that insomnia and psoriasis are often linked. Psoriasis-related pain and itchiness are often the main culprits behind sleep loss. Taking steps to manage psoriasis symptoms may, in turn, help you get better sleep.” The two seem to go hand in hand.

The article also links psoriasis to smoking and alcohol: “Quitting smoking (if you smoke) and avoiding alcohol can improve how well psoriasis medications work and lead to fewer flares. It can also increase the length of psoriasis remission.” It also limits your risk for other autoimmune diseases.

Those who drink or smoke might think it sounds awful to cut out these habits, but isn’t a psoriasis flare-up worse?

No matter what causes your flare-ups (or doesn’t), one of the most important things you can do is take your health into your own hands. There are many different lifestyle and genetic factors that can lead to psoriasis flare-ups.

Because psoriasis affects every patient differently, everyone can be subject to different triggers. While this may sound stressful, because psoriasis doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all treatment plan, it’s actually good news because if you educate yourself on your own health, you can learn how best to manage your condition.

HealthLine reports, “One possible key to self-care is determining your individual psoriasis triggers so you can take steps to avoid them and prevent psoriasis flares. … some common triggers of psoriasis include:

● stress

● skin injury like a cut, scrape, or bite

● smoking

● alcohol use

● cold or warm weather

● systemic infection like earache or bronchitis

● Gut health has also been reported as a possible risk factor. Psoriasis has been postulated to be a T cell mediated disease. In leaky gut syndrome, the gut lining becomes inflamed and weakened which can leak out unwanted substances into the bloodstream. Your body sees these substances as foreign and releases T cells in response. This causes an inflammation in the body which can cause the skin to thicken (The body’s way of protecting itself) and start the cycle of psoriasis flares.

Try keeping a journal of when your psoriasis gets worse, noting what activities you were doing at the time of a flare. You may also want to keep a food log to see if there are specific foods that also cause a flare of your psoriasis. Once you can pinpoint your psoriasis triggers, you can take steps to avoid them. This can help you manage psoriasis flares and increase periods of remission.”

For many psoriasis patients, this is the single most helpful piece of advice they can incorporate. Still, in some cases, prescription psoriasis medication or general skin medications may be warranted. Talk to your doctor about whether or not drugs like Soriatane, Methotrexate, and Otezla are right for you.

Why you need to know about psoriatic arthritis if you have psoriasis

If you know anything about psoriasis, it’s important to educate yourself on psoriatic arthritis as well. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, “Nearly a third of [people with psoriasis] will develop psoriatic arthritis. … Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a common comorbidity of psoriasis. PsA can lead to permanent damage to bones and joints, especially if untreated.”

While there is no diagnostic test for PsA, you can use a screening tool to help identify signs and symptoms of the disease. It is recommended that people with psoriasis take the screening test every six months.

The screening test consists of the following questions:

● Have you ever had a swollen joint (or joints)?

● Has a doctor ever told you that you have arthritis?

● Do your fingernails or toenails have holes or pits?

● Have you had pain in your heel?

● Have you had a finger or toe that was completely swollen and painful for no apparent reason?

This is a helpful tool because the sooner a patient is diagnosed, the better the treatment outcomes. If the screening tool finds that a person might have PsA, it recommends the following: “It’s time to make an appointment with your dermatologist to discuss your signs and symptoms. Your dermatologist may decide you need to see a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in treating arthritis.”

If you have psoriasis, you definitely want to stay on top of the research and stay in the know about not only psoriasis but also psoriatic arthritis.

Best ways to soothe psoriasis this summer

For some people, summer is a difficult time to have psoriasis because the hot temperatures and pressure to show more skin can be uncomfortable. In addition, some people see psoriasis improvements during the summer, whereas others tend to get flare-ups during this sweaty season. However, there are many steps you can take to soothe psoriasis in the summertime.

The Center for Surgical Dermatology and Dermatology Associates recommends the following:

“Spend More Time Outdoors - Embrace the humidity (and limited sun exposure) and spend more time outdoors. … the excess moisture this time of year helps to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated, which prevents cracking and drying out — a common trigger of psoriasis flare-ups.

Keep Your Skin Cool - While the humidity and mild sunlight exposure can help your skin immensely, you are more likely to experience a flare-up when your skin is overheated and sweaty. … prevent excess sweating and chafing by staying in the shade or spending some time indoors.

Enjoy the Sunshine - Some research has shown that sun exposure can reduce inflammation in people with psoriasis, which is why many see improvements in their psoriasis symptoms and flare-ups in the summer months. …

Wear Breathable Clothing - Make sure you wear loose, breathable clothing, like cotton fabrics, which are less likely to irritate your skin, hold in excess heat and moisture, and cause you to sweat in the warmer weather. …

Moisturize Regularly - Spending time in air conditioned spaces, swimming in chlorine-filled pools, and sitting in the sun can seriously dry out your skin. To combat this dryness, it is important to moisturize regularly. We recommend applying your chosen moisturizer within three minutes of getting out of the shower or bath.

Protect Your Skin From Bug Bites - Bites from mosquitos and other insects can irritate your skin and aggravate psoriasis, which can trigger unwanted flare-ups. However, ingredients in common insect repellent, like DEET, can also cause irritation, which is why we recommend choosing a chemical-free option that contains little to no DEET.”

No matter what the time of year, moisturizing is key to managing psoriasis. You want to keep your skin hydrated and healthy, which you can do by slathering on over-the-counter lotions and moisturizers following each shower or bath.

If you have plans to travel this summer, just make sure you pack a good lotion. And, of course, never forget to pack your medication and bring it with you wherever you travel! Make sure to keep it in your backpack or carry-on in case your checked luggage is lost or delayed.

Overall, one of the best things you can do to manage psoriasis is manage your stress levels. Perhaps it’s time for a vacation? If so, you now have a valid medical reason why you need to jet off for a vacation and let your hair down for a while.



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