Last reviewed Tue 15 January 2019 By Lana Burgess Reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, COI
1. Wrap up warm in cold, dry weather
Cold, dry weather can trigger psoriasis flare-ups, and people tend to have more of these in the winter.
Scientists do not fully understand why psoriasis flares are more likely in wintry weather, but some research suggests that it is because cold, dark, and low-humidity conditions can cause the skin to thicken and become inflamed.
Moving to sunnier climes may not be practical for everyone, but people can wrap up warm to reduce the skin’s exposure to cold, dry weather. By doing this, they may prevent many winter flare-ups from happening.
2. Keep the skin moisturized
Keeping the skin moisturized is a vital psoriasis prevention measure. Dry skin can trigger psoriasis flares. It can also make skin scaling more severe and cause the skin to crack and bleed.
A 2016 review notes that moisturizers containing mineral oils, such as liquid paraffin and petrolatum, may be particularly suitable for psoriasis management.
3. Keep the scalp moisturized
People who get psoriasis on their scalp can help prevent flares by keeping the skin on this part of the body moisturized.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, tar shampoos and salicylic acid can help people manage scalp psoriasis.
4. Use a humidifier
People with psoriasis can also keep their skin moist and reduce symptoms by using a home humidifier. This device can be particularly useful in winter when the air inside the home is likely to be cold and dry.
6. Avoid sunburn
Warmer, humid conditions and sunlight may improve psoriasis, but this does not mean that spending extended periods in the sun is good for this skin condition.
Skin damage, including sunburn, is a common cause of psoriasis flares. People can prevent such flares by wearing sunscreen and limiting the exposure of their skin to the sun during the hottest part of the day.
7. Supplement with Vitamin D
Therefore, although additional studies are necessary to confirm this link, it is possible that maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D may help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. People can get more vitamin D from:
- natural sunlight
- certain foods, such as salmon, milk, and fortified cereals
- vitamin D supplements
8. Prevent skin injuries
Skin injuries can trigger the development of psoriasis lesions in areas of the body where people usually do not get them. This aspect of psoriasis is called the Koebner phenomenon.
Avoiding skin injuries where possible may help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. People can reduce the likelihood of skin injuries by:
- taking care when cutting nails or shaving
- avoiding tattoos or piercings
- protecting against insect bites
- taking care when preparing food
- wearing gloves when doing gardening
- avoiding dangerous activities and sports
9. Reduce stress
Taking measures to reduce stress may help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. For example:
- avoiding stressful situations where possible
- practicing yoga, meditation, or mindfulness
- seeing a therapist or talking through problems with friends
10. Improve the diet
As with many areas of health, diet may play a role in psoriasis management.
A 2018 review found that dietary interventions can reduce the severity of people’s psoriasis.
11. Avoid certain medications
Some medications may trigger psoriasis flares. People with psoriasis may wish to visit a doctor to discuss whether or not their other medications can cause psoriasis flares.
Tips for managing flares
Using the treatments and lifestyle changes above can help prevent psoriasis flares from arising. However, it may not be possible to avoid all flare-ups.
Knowing how to manage flare-ups when they do happen is important. The following treatments may help:
- regular moisturizing
- UV light therapy
- medicated creams
- oral tablets
- systemic or biologic medications
Psoriasis is a long-term autoimmune skin condition, the symptoms of which may come and go throughout a person’s lifetime.
There is no cure, but people can prevent and manage psoriasis flares using certain remedies, treatments, and lifestyle methods. These include avoiding cold, dry environments, moisturizing regularly, and eating an anti-inflammatory diet.
Several different environmental and lifestyle factors may trigger psoriasis flare-ups in some people. Understanding potential triggers and taking steps to avoid or manage them can help improve people’s psoriasis symptoms, making it easier to live with the condition.