How to treat your psoriasis at home

Here’s how the discomfort of unsightly psoriasis can be easily and effectively treated at home.

29 July 2015
by Meg de Jong

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick, white, silvery, or red patches of skin. Living with this condition can be very embarrassing for those affected by it. Luckily, milder cases of the condition can be easily treated at home. Consider the following options:

1. Reduce your stress

Stress is among the primary things that have been linked to triggering psoriasis flare-ups. Managing your mental health can decrease the likelihood of an outbreak, so apply stress management techniques to your life as soon as possible. This includes:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Learning all you can about this condition so you face up to your fear and in so doing lower your stress levels
  • Setting priorities when it comes to your daily schedule
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Seeking support from friends, family or even a counsellor
  • Taking up relaxation techniques such as Yoga, meditation, or getting regular massages

2. Get enough sun

Ultraviolet light can be extremely beneficial in handling psoriasis. You can do this the old fashioned way by spending some time outside in the sun – being very careful not to burn, which will make it worse – or by undergoing phototherapy. It is possible to purchase ultraviolet lights for home use.

3. Keep your skin moist

“Taking good care of your skin, hair, scalp and nails is important,” stresses Dr Nomphelo Gantsho, a Cape Town-based dermatologist. “Dry skin not only makes irritation and itchiness worse, but can also increase the scaly presentation.” She recommends tar-based moisturisers, such as Epizone LPC.

A product like aloe vera can be also be very soothing and keep the skin moist. Thick ointments such as Vaseline, olive oil and heavy skin creams are also recommended by some doctors. Another recommendation is to get an air humidifier for your home and office.

In some cases, a doctor may prescribe occlusion therapy, where the skin is wrapped after applying creams. This form of treatment can be very effective, but should not be done without consulting a doctor as it is not risk-free.

4. Use over-the-counter treatments

Your closest Clicks Pharmacy will have medicines that you can get without a prescription to help you alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis. This includes corticosteroid creams and medicines that include tars. These treatments come in spray, soap and solution form. Talk to your Clicks Pharmacist about which option would best suit you.

5. Try herbal therapies

There has been some research done into the efficacy of traditional medicine and herbal therapies. Dr Gantsho mentions Mahonia aquifolium and Indigo naturalis as herbal therapies that are reported to work well, with aloe vera, neem, and extracts of sweet whey also recommended but to a lesser degree.

6. Manage your diet

“Studies haven't found any ‘psoriasis diet’ that can cure or improve the condition, despite claims over the years,” says Dr Gantsho. She recommends trying to eat a balanced diet and stay at a healthy weight. Limiting or even cutting out alcohol consumption is also highly recommended.

Some dietary supplements have been shown to be effective in treating psoriasis. Dr Gantsho recommends fish oil supplements, and also mentions that there is some evidence, albeit conflicting, suggesting that vitamin D, vitamin B12, and selenium supplementation can be helpful too.

A caution about treating psoriasis at home

While, for the most part, it is completely possible to manage psoriasis at home, there are a number of things to look out for:

  • Be vigilant for medicine reactions. “Certain medicines can trigger psoriasis or make symptoms worse,” cautions Dr Gantsho.
  • Many oral medicines used to treat psoriasis aren't safe during pregnancy, she warns. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor before taking any medicines.
  • Ultraviolet light-induced carcinomas are also a worry. Be sure to do your climatotherapy schedule under medical supervision.

Regular visits to a medical professional are always recommended. They can help gauge the efficacy of your current treatments, and keep you abreast of any new medical developments.

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com