When a flare-up is serious, don’t put off seeking professional advice or treatment
Get medical advice when it’s needed— soon. When you get in touch with your healthcare provider to set up an appointment, don’t just ask them for their next available time slot. Tell them you’re calling because of an unusual or severe flare.
Even if they’re booked solid with normal appointments, they’ll usually be able to find time to care for a regular patient who is dealing with an urgent situation.
When you experience a psoriasis flare, there are things you can do for yourself to help get it under control, but you don’t have to do it alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for the care and advice you need, so you have every resource and opportunity available to take care of yourself.
Your vital role in care
Psoriasis flare-ups are unpredictable, inconvenient, uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful to deal with. A lot of the factors that influence them are outside of our control, and causes differ from person to person, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do. There are many things you can do to get them under control and get help when they occur.
Identify stress triggers and do what you can to reduce or eliminate them
Fear and uncertainty, unpredictable events and major life changes, demands at home or in the workplace, and even social situations can evoke stressful feelings that can lead to a psoriasis or vitiligo flare-up. Be mindful of the presence of these things in your life when they appear, and set aside some time to enjoy a hobby, take a relaxing bath, or even just breathe slowly for a while.
Dealing with a chronic skin condition such as psoriasis or vitiligo is stressful in itself. Take an honest look at the things you’ve committed to do and decide which ones matter most to you—and practice saying no to some of the things that don’t really matter more to you than taking care of your own health and wellbeing.
Photograph your flares
Document affected areas with photos so that even if your condition changes before you can schedule a visit with your physician, there’s a visual reference for what was happening at the point when you felt it was necessary to schedule your appointment.
With psoriasis, vitiligo and other chronic skin conditions, a photo record can also help asses your response to treatment. The more information you gather about your skin condition, the better equipped your doctor will be to make informed decisions about your best treatment options.
Eliminate soaps, detergents, and other non-prescription products with fragrances or dyes
Fragrance, dyes, and other ingredients used in soaps, detergents, lotions, and creams may cause irritation that leads to flare-ups. Even when they don’t cause flare-ups, they can make the irritation worse once they come in contact with the affected skin.
This isn’t always the case, but when you’re dealing with a flare-up, it helps to eliminate as many potential contributing factors as possible to get it under control.
Reduce the length and temperature of your baths or showers
Since baths are great stress relievers and also soften the skin, this advice may seem misguided. However, since hot water increases blood flow to the skin, long hot baths or showers can cause the skin to become more red and irritated than it was before the flare. Drying off with your towel once you’re done can irritate it further, so pat your skin softly to get the water off instead of rubbing it.
Cigarettes and cigarette smoke are known to have a negative impact on healing, reducing the amount of oxygen available to cells in your body.
Eat healthy foods
By healthy foods, it’s the usual suspects: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources. If you have known allergies to certain foods, avoid them. Whenever possible avoid refined sugar, preservatives, food dyes, and other ingredients that can provoke an allergic response in some people.
Dietary change does not have to happen overnight. To start, try keeping a record of all of the foods you eat and do a little research on each one to find out if it may contain ingredients that are affecting you negatively. If a frequently consumed food or drink might cause problems, choose healthier foods that you can introduce into your diet.
Get plenty of sleep
When you’re in a deep sleep, your skin heals itself by flushing out waste water, rehydrating, and replacing old cells with new ones. Not getting enough sleep short circuits this process by depriving you of the time you need for these healing activities to take place.
If you have trouble getting enough sleep, try setting an alarm to remind you when it’s time to start getting ready for bed, so you can give your skin the time it needs to heal.
Psoriasis, vitiligo and other chronic skin conditions can be managed best when you work in partnership with your doctor; recognize the vital role you play in your own care.