Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on your skin.
It's an autoimmune condition that makes your body produce new skin cells more quickly than usual. Psoriasis can run in families and be triggered by things like stress, certain medications or injury to the skin, such as sunburn.
It's often treated with medications like steroid creams and coal tar (a thick oil). These are generally effective, but they can have unpleasant side effects. For example, steroid creams can cause thinning of the skin.
If you have psoriasis and you’re looking for other ways to manage your symptoms, there are things you can try at home.
Eat a healthy diet
Making small changes to your diet may not cure or reverse your psoriasis, but it could help you maintain a healthy weight, which has been shown to help reduce how often psoriasis flare-ups happen.
It’s not clear why losing weight helps to improve psoriasis symptoms, but experts think it may be related to a group of proteins produced by the immune system.
These proteins are called cytokines and studies have shown that having more body fat is linked to higher levels of cytokines and inflammation in your cells and tissues.
This may explain why people who are overweight often report more severe psoriasis symptoms than others.
It's also thought that eating a healthy diet and taking steps to lose weight could help to improve the way some psoriasis medications work. These actions may also reduce your risk of developing conditions that are often linked to psoriasis, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Focus on eating a balanced and healthy diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables.
It may also help to cut down on foods that are believed to increase inflammation. This includes red meat, heavily-processed foods and dairy.
There are many reasons why smoking cigarettes is a bad idea for people with psoriasis. Smoking:
- is thought to double your chances of developing the condition
- can increase your chances of flare-ups
- can reduce your likelihood of remission -- where symptoms fade for a period of time
Giving up cigarettes can be challenging, but you can follow these self-help tips to help you quit.
You could also try nicotine replacement therapies like a patch, nasal spray or nicotine gum, but speak to a doctor before using a nicotine patch because it may make your psoriasis symptoms worse.
Research shows that regular exercise may help control psoriasis symptoms by helping you lose weight and reduce inflammation.
Exercise can also help to decrease your risk of developing 1 or more of many health conditions linked to psoriasis, like diabetes or heart disease.
There’s even some evidence to suggest that regular exercise could improve your mental wellbeing and make it easier for you to cope with your symptoms.
If psoriasis makes it difficult for you to exercise, start with something gentle. A brisk walk or stretching exercises can still be beneficial. You can move on to more vigorous forms of exercise once your body gets used to being active.
Some people find that taking a gentle shower after they’ve exercised helps manage their symptoms. You can also try applying moisturiser to areas you think might become irritated.
Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, which is thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have looked into adding turmeric to your food or taking it as a supplement to see if this could help to treat the symptoms of psoriasis. However, findings from these studies haven't proven that turmeric is an effective remedy for the condition. Further research is needed.
Herbal supplements can also interact with certain medications, and they can be dangerous if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or if you have from an on-going or pre-existing medical condition like diabetes or heart disease.
Until more research has been conducted, it may be more useful to focus on making changes to your diet and lifestyle that have been proven to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis.
You should see your doctor if you think you have psoriasis, if you’re concerned about your symptoms or if your symptoms are getting worse.