Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease that affects your skin and has no cure. But changing one’s daily routine can help.
Here are five lifestyle changes to help keep psoriasis in check so you can perform daily activities with less discomfort.
1. Manage stress through meditation
The link between stress and psoriasis is undeniable — stress is seen as a likely cause of inflammation in the body, which in turn results in skin flare-ups.
It is important to take steps to alleviate stress, starting with meditation, which has been touted as one of the most effective (and cost-effective) methods to do so. In fact, studies have shown that daily meditation can relieve stress and ease anxiety.
A study published in Frontiers in Immunology concluded that meditation, which includes yoga and tai chi, is capable of altering a person’s DNA.
Researchers also found that those who consistently practise exercises involving the mind and body as part of their lifestyle produce fewer cytokines (proteins that can cause inflammation). This results in a reduced risk of psoriasis as well as cancer and depression.
2. Reevaluate eating habits
Taking baby steps today can result in giant strides towards better health tomorrow. While this may be a general belief on maintaining good health, it particularly rings true for individuals with psoriasis. Making small tweaks to your diet can help subdue the skin disease and its symptoms.
These proven methods include eating more vegetables, replacing white bread and rice with whole grains or doing away with processed foods altogether. Avoiding foods that contain saturated fats, trans-fatty acids and excessive amounts of salt can also help prevent inflammation in your body.
Alternatively, following a diet focused on weight loss is beneficial for keeping psoriasis under control. Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, apart from reducing the effectiveness of medications.
Eating more fish, lean meat, fruit, and vegetables and consuming fat-free or low-fat dairy products, coupled with a disciplined fitness routine as part of one’s lifestyle, will encourage weight loss as well as ease life with psoriasis, boosting the effectiveness of your medicines and lowering the risk of heart disease.
3. Sweat your way to better psoriasis control
Regular exercise, which particularly incorporates aerobic workouts, is considered one of the best ways to alleviate the stress that can contribute to the onset of psoriasis.
Be it a dance class or the practice of yoga flow, an aerobic workout has been proven to provide immediate positive mental benefits to the body.
It can be difficult for individuals suffering from psoriasis to incorporate exercise in their lifestyle, given that visible plaques, scaly and flaky skin can be uncomfortable and make one self-conscious, especially in the gym.
The only motivation needed to make this a daily priority is to understand its role in improving one’s overall mood, lowering stress and controlling one’s weight.
Regular exercise also reduces the risk of other diseases associated with psoriasis, such as Crohn’s disease, liver, kidney and heart problems.
And, if going to the gym is too uncomfortable, there are plenty of other ways to get a good workout — go on a trail run, cycle around the neighbourhood or even follow a workout video routine at home.
4. Choose the right body and skincare products
For those with psoriasis, certain types of skincare products may do more harm than good. These include deodorant soaps and body scrubs, which should be avoided at all cost.
Others you should avoid include those with fragrances, dyes and chemicals as they can dry out the skin, causing a burning sensation and redness. Opt for natural bath products such as Epsom salts or moisturising ointments, which can help alleviate scaly skin and itching.
When applying makeup, always ensure the products used are labelled “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic”.
Non-comedogenic refers to products that will not clog the pores upon application, while non-acnegenic refers to products that will not cause acne for those with acne-prone skin.
Using alcohol-free, fragrance-free and hypoallergenic skincare products is also good for individuals with psoriasis as they tend to be less irritating to the skin than their more abrasive counterparts.
5. Quit smoking
Cigarette smoking has been associated with psoriasis as nicotine is seen as the link between the two.
Nicotine alters the immune system, increasing the risk of it attacking and killing normal tissue instead of foreign invaders, resulting in chronic inflammation that leads to psoriasis.
It is said that other ingredients contained in cigarettes cause “oxidative” cell damage that can worsen psoriasis.
Quitting smoking offers a host of benefits when it comes to keeping psoriasis in check. It enables increased responsiveness in certain individuals to medications used to treat psoriasis.
It reduces the risk of developing other diseases associated with psoriasis, such as Crohn’s disease, or illnesses that affect the heart, liver and gums. It helps increase the number of psoriasis remission periods during which there are little or no skin flare-ups.
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that can come and go at any time during an individual’s lifetime.
And while a number of different environmental and lifestyle factors can trigger a flare-up, gaining an understanding of these and making the necessary lifestyle changes can help improve your symptoms, making it easier to live with the condition.
This article first appeared on Hello Doktor and was medically reviewed by Dr Joseph Tan. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.