Psoriasis is a common skin condition characterised by inflammation, leading to red, scaly patches on the skin, known as plaques. The exact cause of psoriasis is not completely understood, but it’s believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It’s thought that certain triggers can activate the immune system, leading to chronic inflammation and rapid reproduction of skin cells. These triggers may include infections, certain medications, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, and low-grade inflammation.

Once someone develops psoriasis, it tends to fluctuate over time, with flare-ups occurring intermittently. The frequency and severity of flare-ups can vary greatly from person to person. While some individuals may experience long periods of clear skin, others may have frequent flare-ups. It’s important to note that psoriasis is not contagious and cannot be transmitted to others, nor does it pose a risk of developing into cancer.

The severity of psoriasis can range from mild, with only a few small patches that are barely noticeable, to more severe cases with numerous patches of varying sizes. For most people, the severity falls somewhere between these extremes.

Psoriasis doesn’t have a permanent cure, so treatment focuses on managing the rash effectively. Since psoriasis tends to flare up periodically, you may require treatment courses intermittently throughout your life.

Here’s a brief overview of some common self-care tips to protect your skin, scalp, and nails to prevent Psoriasis. 

Caring for your skin   

If you have psoriasis, your skin is very sensitive. Here are some tips you can try to help protect your skin and keep it moist.

  • Use gentle skin care products to avoid irritation. Opt for mild soaps and avoid lotions containing alcohol.
  • Avoid skin injuries, as they can trigger psoriasis patches to form. Be cautious while trimming your nails and avoid tight clothing or accessories that may irritate your skin.
  • Practice sun safety. While short periods of sun exposure two or three times a week can help reduce psoriasis symptoms, too much sun can damage your skin and trigger flare-ups. Use sunscreen and limit sun exposure.
  • Moisturise your skin regularly, especially after bathing, to help retain moisture. Petroleum jelly, solid vegetable oil, or commercially available moisturisers are recommended. 
  • Take daily baths or soaks to replenish moisture lost to dry climates or drying medications.
  • Right after your bath, pat yourself dry – don’t rub – with a towel.  
  • Use a home humidifier to increase moisture in the air, which can help alleviate dry skin.
  • Before sleeping, wrap your skin with a bandage or plastic wrap to help with scaling. In the morning, wash the area gently.

Caring for your scalp:

  • Avoid digging, scratching, or picking at your scalp to prevent irritation.
  • Use a shampoo containing salicylic acid to control scaling.
  • Shampoo your hair as often as needed to manage symptoms and allow medications to penetrate the scalp.
  • When shampooing, massage the product into your scalp and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

Caring for nails

  • Soak your nails before trimming to soften them and make cutting easier.
  • Trim your nails short and file the edges smoothly to prevent injury or irritation.
  • Avoid excessive cleaning under the nails, as it may worsen psoriasis scale buildup.
  • Refrain from cutting, tearing, or biting the skin around your nails (cuticles).
  • Wear gloves when working with your hands to minimise trauma to the nails.
  • Follow any instructions provided for prescribed medications to manage psoriasis symptoms effectively.

Closing thoughts

Home remedies and self-care strategies may help prevent flare-ups or reduce their severity. If these are ineffective, you may be referred to a dermatologist for other options.

There are various treatments for chronic plaque psoriasis: topical creams or ointments are often the first line of treatment. It typically takes several weeks of consistent treatment to clear psoriasis plaques. What works best can vary from person to person. Your doctor will recommend a treatment based on factors like the severity, location, and type of psoriasis you have. It’s common to try different treatments if the initial one doesn’t provide satisfactory results.

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