4 Ways to Treat Psoriasis
There are good days and bad days, and if you’re troubled with psoriasis you know the difference only too well.
Find out what you can do to treat this skin condition.
On good days, you hardly need to pay any attention to what your skin is doing. On bad ones, those red itchy patches are crying for attention. Here are some ways to make the good days better and the bad days more bearable.
If itching is your problem, a bath – with certain ingredients added – may be just what the doctor ordered. Here are some tried-and-true soothers to add to your bathwater.
• Bicarbonate of soda: Bicarb is an excellent remedy for itchy skin, as you may already know. If your child has chickenpox, add 1⁄2 cup bicarb to a shallow bath or 1 full cup to a deep bath to soothe itching.
• Herbal help: Since ancient times, fresh and dried herbs have been added to bathwater to provide healing benefits for mind and body. A luxurious blend of camomile and rose petals soothes dry skin. Use 3 tablespoons of each, placed in the centre of a double-folded square of muslin, tie securely and toss into the bath. Squeeze the wet bag to release the fragrant oils into the water.
• Oatmeal: For relief from skin rashes or itchy sunburn, run a lukewarm bath and add a few tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal (which is finely powdered so it remains suspended in the water), such as Aveeno, sold in pharmacies. If you don’t have colloidal oatmeal to hand, simply tip a cupful or so of plain porridge oats in an old nylon stocking, tie the top and float it in the bathwater while you soak. Oatmeal makes the bath very slippery, so be extra careful when getting out of the bath.
• Vinegar: Plain old vinegar is another substance that can tame itching. It works by acidifying the skin. To relieve itchy sunburn or psoriasis, have a cool bath to which you have added about 2 cups of vinegar before getting in.
Spend Time Outdoors
• Sunlight is an excellent remedy for psoriasis. Every day, spend 15 to 30 minutes outdoors and you should see results in less than six weeks. Research shows that sunlight decreases the activity of the skin’s T cells. These are specialised cells that produce substances called cytokines, which initiate a cycle of inflammation. When T cells are exposed to sunlight, it suppresses their activity, breaking the cycle.
• Protect yourself from burning by wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on healthy areas of skin.
• Take a good, long soak in warm water… then add some vegetable oil. The reason is that, while a long bath can soften scaly patches and soothe itching, it can also dry your skin and make itching worse. So lie in the water for about 10 minutes, letting your skin get thoroughly soaked. Then, about 5 minutes before you get out, add 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the water to help seal the moisture into your skin. But be careful getting out as the oil will make the bath surface very slippery.
• To relieve itching, try a cool bath, adding vinegar to the bathwater. Many people find that vinegar helps psoriasis, though doctors aren’t sure why. What’s known is that the acetic acid in vinegar kills bacteria – and one theory suggests that psoriasis is made worse by bacteria.
• Finely ground oats are another good ingredient for itch relief. You can sprinkle in an oatmeal product specially made for baths, such as Aveeno (available from pharmacies). Or put ordinary porridge oats into a blender, grind them until they turn into a fine powder, then sprinkle them into the water.
Apply Plenty of Moisturizer
• As soon as you get out of the bath, smooth on moisturiser to lock in your skin’s natural moisture. Make sure that you add an extra thick layer to the psoriasis patches, which will help prevent cracking. It is best to avoid runny lotions, which dry up too quickly, and instead choose a heavy cream or ointment. Among the effective brands are DermaDrate, Eulactol or Calmurid, which contain urea to help loosen scales on the skin’s surface.
• Try a cream that contains camomile. This plant has long been reputed to reduce inflammation and soothe flaky skin. Ask for it in your local health food shop.
• Rub a few drops of tea-tree oil into psoriasis patches several times a day. It relieves itching and softens affected skin, especially if you have a mild case. However, test it first on a small patch of skin. It is also worth remembering that skin coated in tea-tree oil may be extra sensitive to sunlight.
• To soften skin and remove scaly patches, you can also use petroleum jelly. Apply it as often as necessary.