Living with psoriasis can be a roller coaster ride: Sometimes you may be fighting flares while other times the condition may not have any noticeable symptoms. Knowing how to manage this autoimmune condition can make your life much easier and more comfortable.
You’ve got many options for staying ahead of psoriasis even though it has no cure. Effective management of the condition includes:
- a doctor-supported treatment plan
- healthy lifestyle habits
- mental health support
There are many types of psoriasis. Each type requires different management plans based on the severity of the condition and where it’s located on your body. You must also factor in your other health conditions that may be related to psoriasis. Your doctor can devise a plan that works best for you.
1. Treat your condition
Don’t ignore symptoms of psoriasis. Because there’s no cure, it needs to be managed by a doctor. What appears as a mild case may worsen with time, and your doctor can decide how to keep the condition from spreading.
Mild psoriasis can generally be treated with topical methods. Psoriasis that is moderate or severe in nature may require stronger interventions. These include:
- topical prescriptions
- medications like biologics or oral medications
- light therapy
- alternative medicines or therapies
- lifestyle changes
Psoriasis is associated with other health conditions, such as:
- cardiovascular disease
Your doctor should check for these other conditions when treating psoriasis.
2. Evaluate your treatment plan regularly
A recent trend in psoriasis management includes the “treat to target” approach. This concept allows you to evaluate your treatments with a doctor on a periodic basis. Together, you determine if the devised plan is effective in reducing your symptoms. Such a treatment plan should have overall goals for reducing your symptoms and allow for modifications from both you and your doctor every few months.
Several studies affirm this method of evaluation in managing psoriasis. Archives of Dermatological Research concluded that those who have outcomes measurement for their psoriasis experience:
- more control of the condition
- more positive feelings about their treatment
- less severe symptoms
Talk to your doctor about coming up with a regular schedule for evaluating your treatment plan. Goals should be individual in nature and may include:
- reducing the psoriasis to a certain percentage of your body
- giving you a particular quality of life
- keeping other conditions in check
3. Continue with your treatment plan
It may be tempting to discontinue your psoriasis treatments if your condition seems under control. You may not be experiencing any psoriasis flare-ups and forget to take prescribed medications or keep up with a daily skin care routine. This can result in the condition coming back or even getting worse.
Consult your doctor if you feel that your treatment plan could be modified based on any reduced symptoms. You’ll want to ensure that modifying treatments will result in fewer symptoms in the long term.
4. Manage your weight with diet and exercise
Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent your psoriasis from spreading or flaring. Some studies link worsening psoriasis symptoms with a higher-than-average body mass index. One analysis in the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery found that increased body mass index resulted in the development of more severe psoriasis.
Losing weight may help psoriasis symptoms in those who are obese or overweight. One study in the British Journal of Dermatology analyzed overweight and obese participants who had psoriasis. The participants exercised and dieted for 20 weeks, resulting in a reduction in the severity of their psoriasis.
Talk to your doctor about weight loss methods if you are obese or overweight. This may include reducing the calories in your diet and exercising more frequently. Losing weight will help your overall health and may reduce other health conditions you have. Exercising itself is considered to be a great way to manage psoriasis symptoms.
5. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake
Smoking and drinking alcohol can aggravate psoriasis. Smoking can cause psoriasis to develop or become more severe. Drinking alcohol may worsen the condition or interfere with treatments. Eliminate these unhealthy lifestyle habits to reduce psoriasis symptoms.
6. Manage stress and other mental health conditions
Stress can negatively affect psoriasis by causing your immune system to overreact. Activities like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness may reduce stress. You should also examine what factors in your life cause stress and work to eliminate these triggers.
You may also find yourself struggling with mental health because of psoriasis. Anxiety and depression are commonly tied to psoriasis and should be treated immediately. Mental health conditions can affect the management of psoriasis as well as increase your risk for suicide.
There are many ways you can manage your psoriasis to prevent flares and reduce the condition’s severity. Seeing your doctor should be the first step in getting on top of psoriasis.
It’s important to keep in mind that psoriasis isn’t curable, and at times symptoms can pop up despite your best efforts to control the condition. You should check in with your doctor regularly to evaluate the condition and to prevent it from getting worse.Read more in Psoriasis Resources
Fleming, P., Kraft, J., Gulliver, W. P., & Lynde, C. (2015, May 7). The relationship of obesity with the severity of psoriasis: A systematic review. Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, 19(5). Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1203475415586332
Mrowietz, U., Steinz, K., & Gerdes, S. (2014, August 2). Psoriasis: To treat or manage? Experimental Dermatology, 23(10), 705-709. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/exd.12437/full
Naldi, L., Conti, A., Cazzaniga, S., Patrizi, A., Pazzaglia, M., Lanzoni, A., … The Psoriasis Emilia Romagna Study Group. (2014, March 12). Diet and physical exercise in psoriasis: A randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Dermatology, 170(3), 634-642. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjd.12735/full
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National Psoriasis Foundation. (2015, May 6). How cigarettes and alcohol affect psoriasis. Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/how-cigarettes-and-alcohol-affect-psoriasis
National Psoriasis Foundation. (2017, January 1). Your disease is under control … now what? Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/disease-under-control-now-what
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Radtke, M. A., Reich, K., Sephr, C., & Augustin, M. (2015, July). Treatment goals in psoriasis routine care. Archives of Dermatological Research, 307(5), 445-449. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00403-014-1534-y
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Treat 2 target. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/treat-to-target