Winter tips for managing psoriasis

Cold weather can wreak havoc on your skin. If you are living with psoriasis-a chronic, non contagious disease of the immune system that causes the skin to crack,itch and bleed- winter is the most challenging season.
Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the US appearing most frequently on the scalp,knees,elbows and torso. Dry air, decreased sunlight and colder temperatures contribute to psoriasis flares. Additionally,holiday stress and winter illness such as flu and strep throat can trigger psoriasis.
Following these tips may help you deal with an outbreak.
1. Moisturize to reduce redness and itching
Creams and ointments are thicker and more hydrating than lotions,and they lock in more moisture to the skin. Aim for fragrance free products or those designed for sensitive skin to avoid irritation. Experts say its best to apply moisturizers to damp skin immediately after a shower.

2. Bathe or shower in lukewarm ,not hot water
Hot water dries out skin and can worsen itching. If possible try to limit yourself to one shower a day and use soap for sensitive skin. Products with oil, oatmeal, Dead Sea salts or Epson salts can help remove psoriasis plaques.

3. Ease stress
Stress is a known trigger for psoriasis. Find something that relaxes you like meditation, yoga,reading a good book , taking a long walk or you can talk to your doctor about any alternative treatments.

3. Consider phototherapy
Phototherapy or light therapy,may be helpful in the winter. It exposes the skin to ultra violent light B (UVB),which is beneficial. Treatments are done in a doctor’s office or with a home phototherapy unit prescribed by a dermatologist.

4. Wear soft layers
People with psoriasis often experience itching and discomfort with certain clothing. A layer of silk or cotton as an undergarment beneath uncomfortable garments can help relieve itching and protect your clothing from messy psoriasis treatments such as topical ointments. In addition to that try to avoid wool and synthetic fibers that can irritate skin.

5. Improve your treatment plan
Talk to your doctor if your psoriasis worsens in the winter.

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