by Elizabeth Simmons

Psoriasis can be a painful, and in some cases embarrassing, skin condition. For those who have it, proper care of their skin is the number one way to alleviate some of the discomfort that they experience. The American Academy of Dermatologists has offered some tips to help psoriasis patients get welcome relief.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition believed to be caused by an interaction of multiple genes, the immune system and the environment. It is characterized by raised, red and scaly plaques on the skin, occurring in either specific areas like the scalp, or over the entire body. Symptoms include flaking, inflammation and thick patches of skin. While many of the most effective treatments for psoriasis are prescribed medications and treatments, there are some at-home remedies that have been proven to relieve symptoms.  Also it is smart to measure and track your pain on a painscale.

According to board-certified dermatologist Stephen P. Stone, MD, FAAD, professor of dermatology and director of clinical research at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, one of the most effective ways to stop the itch that accompanies psoriasis is to treat the psoriasis itself. While waiting for the itch to disappear, people should avoid scratching since that can actually make psoriasis worse. Instead, Dr. Stone suggests alleviating the itch by applying a cold compress, applying dermatologist directed medication and moisturizing every day.

Moisturizing the affected skin is an important part of psoriasis treatment. For the best results, apply a heavy, ointment-based moisturizer immediately after bathing while the skin is still moist. If you have extremely dry skin, oils may work better than creams or lotions as their moisturizing effects last longer and are slower to evaporate from the skin. During cold, dry weather moisturizer may need to be applied several times a day. In addition to lotion or oils, people with psoriasis need to be especially vigilant about wearing sunscreen.

It’s good advice for anyone, but psoriasis patients in particular should avoid exposing their skin to excessive amounts of sunlight. “It’s extremely important for people with psoriasis to protect their skin from excessive sun,” said Dr. Stone. “Being exposed to the sun for too long can worsen existing psoriasis and cause new psoriasis to form.” That said, some exposure to sunlight can help reduce psoriasis in most people. Your best bet is to keep sun exposure down to short periods of time.

If you have psoriasis, your best bet for relief is to consult with your doctor and determine which treatments work for you. Once you have found the system that is right for your individual case, take a look at some at-home treatments to find additional relief.