19 May 2022

How to stay healthy and comfortable in your own skin

Submitted by MyPressportal Team
How to stay healthy and comfortable in your own skin

Millions of people struggle with their psoriasis daily. Their family, friends, colleagues, and strangers may see red scaly patches, or dry, cracked skin that may bleed, wondering if it is contagious.1 On the inside, they may experience feelings of depression or low self-esteem while living with an illness that is more than skin deep.1

What is psoriasis?1, 2, 3

People with psoriasis have an overactive immune system that speeds up skin cell growth. Skin cells grow normally and shed within a month in people who don't have psoriasis. For people with psoriasis, there is no shedding, and every three or four days, the skin cells pile on the surface, forming red patches of skin, covered in thick silvery scales that can itch, bleed, or burn. These patches can cover any part of the body, although they’re most common on the lower back, elbows, knees, legs, scalp, and face. People with psoriasis are also at greater risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other autoimmune diseases.

Psoriasis is a chronic condition with no cure, but it's not all bad news.1 People can manage the condition and greatly improve their quality of life with effective treatment options that can help them achieve clear skin.

"The right treatment can make all the difference," said Dr Tarryn Jacobs, a specialist dermatologist in Gauteng. "The earlier people start with the treatment, the better results they’ll see. Effective treatment will reduce symptoms, achieve clear skin, and help people live a better life, " she added. "I also suggest to my patients to adopt a healthier lifestyle that will greatly enhance their lives, in addition to the right treatment."

Here are six lifestyle tips to help you feel good and minimise flare-ups.

  1. Eat healthy2,4
    Include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fatty fish, olive oil, and protein in your diet, and eliminate processed foods. Healthy food will help you feel great and prevent flare-ups and reduce the severity of your psoriasis.

  2. Reduce alcohol2, 4
    Research shows that alcohol can trigger or worsen psoriasis and interfere with treatment. Avoid consuming too much alcohol and monitor how your skin reacts. Talk to your doctor to find out if it's safe to limit yourself to one drink a day.

  3. Stop smoking2, 4, 5
    Smoking can worsen psoriasis, shorten remission periods, cause flare-ups, and make treatment less effective. And because smoking is addictive, going cold turkey may not always work. Ask your doctor to help you quit, as some treatment, such as nicotine patches, can worsen your psoriasis.

  4. Start exercising2, 4
    Regular exercise improves psoriasis symptoms, and can improve your mood, boost your energy, and help you sleep better. If you choose to start swimming, keep in mind that too much time in chlorinated water can cause irritation and itchiness, which isn't good for anyone living with psoriasis. Always shower after a swim and moisturise your skin.

  5. Self-care4
    Take extra care of your mind and body. Stress isn't good for anyone, especially not people with psoriasis, as it can cause flare-ups. Minimise daily stress and prioritise what's important. Relax, meditate, do yoga, find something that works for you and stick to it.

  6. Take care of your skin1, 6
    In addition to your treatment, take the following precautions to ease flare-ups.
    • Keep your skin moisturised
      Use products that aren't harsh to your skin. Reapply as necessary and use more moisturiser on cold or dry days as harsh weather can trigger symptoms. Consider getting a humidifier to help your skin retain moisture better.

    • Soothe your skin with warm baths
      But not too hot or too long. Use mild soap to relieve the itch and dry skin.

    • Step into the light
      While too much sun is never a good idea, enough sunlight can soothe and even improve psoriasis. Always use sunscreen when you step into the sun.

    • Go light and soft
      Wear clothes that won't irritate your inflamed skin. Cotton and chiffon are great materials, and make sure your clothing isn't too tight that will make your skin itch or, worse, bleed.

While living with psoriasis is challenging, you don't have to face it alone. Speak to your dermatologistabout a treatment that will work for you and help you achieve clear skin. You can also join the #MoreThanSkinDeep Facebook Community, connect with people living with psoriasis who understand what you're going through, and access valuable information and insights as you navigate your life with psoriasis.

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References

  1. Mayo Clinic. Psoriasis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840.   Accessed on 22 March 2022.
  2. Medical News Today. Quality of life with psoriasis. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/living-with-psoriasis#quality-of-life. Accessed on 22 March 2022.
  3. National Psoriasis Foundation. About Psoriasis. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/. Accessed on 22 March 2022.
  4. Healthgrades. 11 Tips for Living Well With Psoriasis. https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/psoriasis/11-tips-for-living-well-with-psoriasis. Accessed on 22 March 2022.
  5. Healthline. 6 Ways to Stay Ahead of Your Psoriasis. https://www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis/moderate-to-severe/ways-to-stay-ahead-of-your-psoriasis. Accessed on 22 March 2022.
  6. WebMD. 7 Tips for Psoriasis Skin Care. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/psoriasis-skin-care-tips. Accessed on 22 March 2022.
Published in Health and Medicine