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Psoriasis Dos and Don'ts

Although there is no cure for psoriasis, oral and topical medications are an invaluable tool for many people in managing the disease. In addition to topicals—applied directly to the skin to reduce itching and inflammation and improve the skin’s appearance—healthy lifestyle choices are also an effective way to manage psoriasis. Heed these dos and don’ts to make life a little easier.

Do Manage Stress

Though there is no research definitively showing that lowering stress can improve your psoriasis, many patients swear by the strategy. Lori Leyden, PhD, who has had psoriasis for 30 years and is the author of The Stress Management Handbook: Strategies for Health and Inner Peace, is one of them.

"[My psoriasis] has been under control for the last 20 years, every since I started practicing stress management."

Don't Be Overweight

Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight is critical, says Neil Korman, MD, clinical director of the Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis in Cleveland Heights, Ohio: "We do know that people who are obese are at increased risk for psoriasis, and that losing weight may help improve your psoriasis."

Do Avoid Harsh Products

Avoid harsh soaps (such as deodorant soaps) as well as scrubs, which can be very irritating, says Neil Korman, MD, PhD, clinical director of the Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis in Cleveland.

Don't OD on Junk

Small tweaks (eating more vegetables, trading white bread and rice for whole grains, eliminating processed food) can improve your health with psoriasis.

Do Sun With Care

Though UV light can be therapeutic, you don't want to get burned. Expert recommend staying in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes—long enough to get the benefit of the sun, but not long enough to get burned.

(Even a mild sunburn can trigger a psoriasis outbreak.)

Don't Dry Out

Doctors recommend that psoriasis patients keep their skin well moisturized to prevent scales and soothe dry skin.

The most moisturizing formulas are ointments (Vaseline, Aquaphor), followed by creams (Cetaphil, Nivea, CeraVe) and lotions (Aveeno).

Do Practice Scalp Care

Many psoriasis patients have lesions on their scalps. Coal-tar shampoos slow the proliferation of skin cells and reduce inflammation.

Don't Skip Conditioner

Conditioners can disguise the smell of tar shampoos and restore the moisture that shampoos take away.

Popular choices among posters on the National Psoriasis Foundation's message boards include Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Conditioner, Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Conditioner, and Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care Conditioner.

Do Choose the Right Makeup

It's safe to use makeup anytime, even if you have a breakout. Just look for makeup that says noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic.

Go for fragrance-free products, as the fragrances in cosmetics are a common source of irritation.

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