Psoriasis Management: What Your Dermatologist Wishes You Knew

Patient Expert

The relationship you have with your dermatologist is a pretty important one when you've got a chronic disease like psoriasis. While you may go months without seeing your doctor, a flare or other change in your health could mean more frequent visits to discuss treatment options.

But even if you feel super good about working with your dermatologist to manage your psoriasis, maybe you've wondered if there's more you could know and do when it comes to treatment. I decided to tap into my own dermatologist's expertise and experience working well with patients to learn what he thinks those of us with psoriasis should be aware of and consider incorporating into our psoriasis management. Consider it a primer on what our dermatologists wish we knew...

It's more than just skin deep. "Take good care of your health," says Dr. Ray Dean, my longtime dermatologist in Traverse City, Mich. "I wish people knew that heavy alcohol consumption and heavy stress can make your psoriasis worse." Living out a healthy, active lifestyle can only help your psoriasis, he says. "Try to get plenty of rest and stay well hydrated."

Consider trying simple DIY remedies. In addition to any medication your doctor may prescribe for your psoriasis, explore complementary do-it-yourself options that are known to help some psoriasis patients. For example, Dean says, "If I had psoriasis, I'd try to get a little sunlight on my skin every day." Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids or taking vitamins containing these are other good ideas, he says. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae and krill, some plants and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

There's no cure - yet. It's heartbreaking, but true: there's no cure for psoriasis, and Dean has found he's had to explain this time and again to patients. Still, he's encouraged by the ever-increasing kinds of treatments available and research advancements being made.

Be patient, trust that you'll find a treatment that works for you. "It can take a lot of time to find what fits well for you," Dean says. "Some people get light therapy but it doesn't work well, and for others, it does." Together with your dermatologist, you can hopefully experiment and find a treatment that works well for your skin.

Stay as positive as possible. Dean sees it plenty: patients who let the disease get them down. He can understand why this happens. "It really can drive you batty. Just when you think things are going well, it smacks you upside the head," he says of psoriasis. But stay strong and don't let your psoriasis define you. "Don't let the disease defeat you." This may mean incorporating into your life a regular exercise routine, more time spent with close family and friends, or a new hobby or work project. Find fulfillment in these areas and you're sure to not be down about your psoriasis for too long.