I’ve had psoriasis, to a greater or lesser extent, for over 20 years. During that time, I’ve tried lots of different prescribed topical treatments. I’ve had two courses of light therapy when my flare ups were particularly severe. And I’ve done a lot of experimenting at home to figure out what makes my skin better, and what makes it worse. I quickly realized that psoriasis can be an unpredictable condition — for example, my first pregnancy seemed to trigger flare ups, but my skin actually cleared up during my second. But what I know for sure is that there’s plenty I can do to help ease discomfort and reduce flare ups. Over the years, I’ve identified what I need to do for my skin on a daily basis to help manage the disease. Here’s what my typical daily psoriasis routine looks like.
Start the Day out Right
I often get small patches of psoriasis on my face, particularly during cold weather, so I give them some TLC as soon as I wake up. First, I apply a smoothing cleanser to dry skin, leave it a moment to work its magic, then remove it carefully with a super soft, organic bamboo face cloth. I pat my skin dry with another face cloth, then gently apply very small amounts of tea tree oil, which has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, to the affected areas with a cotton ball.
If I can get away without makeup, I’ll go bare-faced. I try to minimize the products I use on my face as much as possible to let my skin breathe and reduce the risk of irritation. But if I need some coverage, I’ll always go for something that I know won’t make my psoriasis worse. This has taken a significant amount of trial and error, but it’s worth it. I always apply my makeup with clean fingertips and take great care not to remove any scales, as this can lead to another flare up.
Depending on my schedule, I’ll try to start the day with some exercise, whether that’s yoga, a swim, or walking the kids to school. Exercise is my number one go-to for stress relief, and I know from experience the effect stress can have on psoriasis. If exercise isn’t your thing, find something that works for you — it could be knitting, meditation, baking, or deep breathing.
Stay Fueled (and Hydrated!)
There’s no scientifically proven link between diet and psoriasis, but I definitely see an improvement in my skin when I eat nutritious foods and drink lots of water. To make it easier to get my daily quota of H2O, I fill my 750 ml drink bottle and sip it throughout the morning, and do the same in the afternoon.
While scientists still haven’t pinpointed the exact cause of psoriasis, one popular theory is that it’s due to inflammation in the body, so this is always something in the back of my mind. I don’t drink alcohol, try to limit my intake of inflammatory foods, such as dairy and sugar, and base my diet on food that might reduce inflammation and ease psoriasis symptoms. My weekly shopping cart typically includes plenty of healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, eggs and dark chocolate), lots of leafy green vegetables, berries and cherries, and oily fish.
My tub of moisturizer is never too far from me throughout the day. Regular moisturizing doesn’t get rid of psoriasis, but it does help to reduce dryness, itching, and scaling. I always choose fragrance-free moisturizers, as these don’t tend to irritate my sensitive skin. I also carry small tubs of moisturizer in my bag and in my car so that I can reapply it whenever I feel the need, wherever I am.
Wind Down for the Day
I find baths really relaxing, but they sometimes increase the redness in my skin, so I tend to have a bath in the evening rather than first thing in the morning. I always add something to the water to help soothe my skin. My top choices are almond oil, which is antibacterial, packed with vitamin A, and highly emollient (meaning it helps to balance the absorption of moisture and water loss), and Dead Sea salts, which are high in magnesium. I lock the door, light a few candles, and soak in the warm water for at least 20 minutes. When I get out, I pat my skin dry with a soft towel, then it’s time for yet another application of moisturizer. I do this while my skin is still damp to help lock in moisture.
Ideally, I’ll get a least seven hours’ sleep per night. There’s no direct link between sleep — or lack of it — and psoriasis, but a lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can lead to exhaustion, and subsequently increase anxiety and stress, which are common psoriasis triggers.
Each of these small steps makes it easier to manage my psoriasis on a daily basis. As an added bonus, they all benefit my wider health in numerous ways. And the healthier I feel, the better equipped I am, both physically and mentally, to cope with whatever my skin decides to throw at me.