10 Tips for Your Big Day When You Have Psoriasis
Whether it’s your wedding, engagement party, special anniversary, birthday, your kid’s graduation, or an important work event—when it’s a big occasion, you naturally want to dress up and have your full attention on the happenings of the day, not your psoriasis. Sometimes though, your psoriasis has other ideas. We reached out to the experts to get a few stress-free tips to set you up for success for that special calendar occasion—and what you can do if plaques pop up around that date.
Plan at Least Three Months Out
The best way to ensure a plaque-free day is to schedule a dermatologist appointment before your event with plenty of time for wiggle room, says dermatologist Leon Kircik, M.D., a professor of dermatology for Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NY, and Indiana Medical Center in Indianapolis. Treatments often take weeks to see results, and in the case of biologics like Humira and Enbrel, “sometimes insurance has to approve them, which can take a good amount of time.” Another reason to start early: It allows your doctor to tweak your treatment if needed.
Eat Your Veggies (and Other Healthy Things)
Seeing a nutritionist in the months leading up is also a good idea. “Diet is important in a couple ways,” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D., assistant clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “First, food contains nutrients we need to fight and kill bad bacteria. Without them, the skin feels threatened and becomes inflamed. Second, diets rich in antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, and healthy fats support healthy skin cell turnover.” Since inflammation and cell turnover are elements of psoriasis, that’s key.
Schedule ‘Me Time’ Into Your Planning
Stress—especially the emotional kind—is considered a top trigger for psoriasis flares. “Certainly stress has a negative impact on the hormones and the cytokines, especially on the inflammatory side,” says Dr. Kircik. “So you don’t want to increase those levels.” And since anxiety can spike before a big event, doing what you can to find your bliss, so to speak, is a good idea. A few suggestions from the National Psoriasis Foundation: meditation, exercise, and getting outside.
Count on Special Shampoo
Dr. Kircik’s recommended shower product: a salicylic acid shampoo. The gentle astringent ingredient, he says, “will help take the scales off” by sloughing dead skin cells—so much so that multiple studies show it to be “beneficial in inducing a more rapid onset of action as well as a reduction of severity parameters and the area affected.” And you don’t actually have to use it on your locks. “You want to make sure it gets on your scalp, but you can use your favorite shampoo for your hair!” Try Neutrogena T/Sal Shampoo, $6, walmart.com.
Keep a Soothing Moisturizer on Hand
To prevent plaques and help minimize the appearance of ones that surface, moisturization is crucial. Dr. Engleman explains: “The more pliable your skin is, the less likely it will be to crack or tear.” Look for emollients, coal tar, salicylic acid, and vitamin D , which Dr. Engleman calls “mainstays of psoriasis treatments.” She also recommends actives that support the protective skin barrier, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and niacinamides, which nourish without irritation. And tuck it in your bag the day-of to hydrate any plaques!
Take Soothing Baths
Baths spiked with a scoop of magnesium-rich salts like Epsom or those from the Dead Sea are often recommended as a psoriasis treatment—in fact, one study in Frontiers in Medicine found that four weeks of therapy in the Dead Sea lead to an average 88% reduction in psoriasis plaque size and severity. Dr. Engleman says the magic of these is the magnesium, which “reduces inflammation in the endothelial layer of the skin … improving its health, function, and appearance.” Bonus: If you schedule one the night before your event, it doubles as a mind-centering treat!
Plug in Your Humidifier
A humidifier is a great tool to support the skin barrier. “It functions by keeping bacteria and pathogens out, while keeping moisture in,” Dr. Engleman says. “That’s important, because dryness, cracking, and flaking occur when there is not enough moisture and puts the skin at risk of infection, irritation, or breakouts where these portals of entry occur.” And since irritation is a psoriasis trigger, eliminating it in every way you can is key in plaque prevention. When to incorporate this into your care? As soon as possible to hold off flares before they start.
Try an Occlusive Dressing
To supercharge your topical treatments in the weeks leading up to your big day, Dr. Kircik suggests adding an occlusive dressing (those water-tight bandages found at your local pharmacy) on top. A go-to in psoriasis treatment, research has shown it to be effective—in one study, adding a dressing over a dose of 0.1% mapracorat ointment (an anti-inflammatory drug) helped the cream work more effectively and faster, showing improvement in two weeks. Note: Check with your doctor to determine exactly how to—or if you should—apply a dressing for the specific ingredients you’re using.
Put Those Makeup Skills to Use
For flares that show on visible places like your face, arms, or legs on your big day, concealer and foundation can act like a bit of a temporary eraser. Dr. Kircik says “if you’re allergic to certain products, you certainly want to avoid those,” but otherwise it’s perfectly safe to use on unbroken skin. Use a gentle hand to apply it and remove it so as not to irritate sensitive skin, and, of course, do not use it on any open lesions.
Cover Your Lesions—or Don’t!
If having a shawl or jacket on hand as an option to hide plaques makes you feel more confident on your big day, go for it. Or forget that and just flaunt it! It is a natural part of you, and after all, as Dallas, TX-based psoriasis warrior Lori-Ann Holbrook told us, it can be an opportunity to create awareness for your condition. Her advice: “Try not to shy away from that.”
- Salicylic Acid and Scalp: Dermatology and Therapy. (2015.) “Keratolytics and Emollients and Their Role in the Therapy of Psoriasis: a Systematic Review.” link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13555-015-0068-3
- Dead Sea Palt and Psoriasis: Frontiers in Medicine. (2020.) “Effect of Dead Sea Climatotherapy on Psoriasis; A Prospective Cohort Study.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7093374/
- Occlusive Dressing: Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. (2017.) “Comparison of Occlusive and Open Application in a Psoriasis Plaque Test Design, Exemplarily Using Investigations of Mapracorat 0.1% Ointment versus Vehicle and Reference Drugs.” karger.com/Article/Fulltext/458415#