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Say so long to psoriasis itch

Say So Long to Psoriasis Itch

July 13, 2019

If you have psoriasis and can’t seem to get relief from itching, don’t let it get under your skin. Kelsey-Seybold dermatologist Isabella Gyening, MD, provides tips to follow during a psoriasis breakout.

“The first step is to make sure the skin is well moisturized,” says Dr. Gyening. “Regular use of a moisturizer, particularly after bathing, can help reduce the itching associated with psoriasis.”

She also offers the following advice to minimize flare-ups:

  • Don’t let skin get too dry, especially during cooler weather when the humidity is low. This makes psoriasis worse. After bathing, pat dry with a towel. When skin is still a little moist, slather on a heavy moisturizer to help seal in moisture. Using a moisturizer twice daily or every few hours also can help reduce “scales” and itching.
  • Don’t smoke. It dries out skin and may aggravate existing psoriasis.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol. It dehydrates and prematurely ages the skin.
  • Tame stress, which can make psoriasis flare up in 40% to 80% of people with the skin condition. Try reducing stress with meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
  • If your scalp is scaly, avoid wearing your hair pulled or pinned back, as this may irritate your skin. Skip blow-drying, which makes the scalp even drier. An over-the-counter shampoo with coal tar or salicylic acid may help. Prescription foam also is available for the scalp. Ask your dermatologist.
  • Ask your doctor if any medicines you take could make your skin worse. Some over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, and medicines that treat depression and high blood pressure may be culprits. Also, ask about creams or lotions that may ease your symptoms. Oral medicines and other treatments, such as light therapy, can help more severe psoriasis. Your dermatologist may recommend a cream, lotion, or other product with coal tar. Be aware that these can stain fabrics. It’s probably best to apply at nighttime with old pajamas and sheets.
  • If you have an outbreak in the middle of the night, avoid the urge to scratch. Try using an ice pack to help calm the itching. Or soak for 15 minutes in a bath filled with Epsom salt, Dead Sea salt, or a soothing oatmeal product.
Headshot of Isabella Gyening, MD

About the Author

Dr. Isabella Gyening is a dermatologist at Kelsey-Seybold's Main Campus and Downtown at the Shops Clinic. Dr. Gyening’s clinical interests include general and cosmetic dermatology. " I am passionate about giving patients information about their condition and treatment. I believe that when patients are involved in the care process, outcomes are better."

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