We're very pleased to welcome psoriasis campaigner Jude Duncan to Balmonds, to talk about her experience of managing psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a complex disease that can be tough to treat. If you have psoriasis, you’ll know all too well that keeping it under control is easier said than done.
Triggers are as individual to a psoriasis warrior as the condition itself. No two people are the same.
Below I outline some of my key triggers and what I do to keep my skin and myself calm during a flare - well, as calm as anyone can be!
Triggers – take them personally
What triggers your psoriasis is individual to you. Though triggers may fall under the same heading - stress, for example - each person reacts differently. With stress, whether you flare or not will depend on the level and kind of stress your body is under.
Personally, I tend to flare when my body is under stress, but I’m oblivious to it; it’s when I’m sub-consciously stressed. Stress is the number one reason that I flare and it affects everything for me; from flared skin to flared PsA, not sleeping to scratching like mad, it can be a pain (literally!).
I also find that my diet is so important when it comes to flaring up. I don’t deny myself anything – I won’t let psoriasis rule my life! - but I would be lying if I said that too much eating out and alcoholic drinks didn’t affect my skin. If I’m going through a bad flare, I make sure I’m watching what I eat. Giving my body the nutrients it needs helps ease the symptoms of a flare-up and reduces the accompanying irritation.
So I know that stress and diet are my main triggers. Here’s how I ensure that I’m keeping myself in check day-to-day.
Have a holistic plan
When treating psoriasis it’s best to have a holistic plan as well as the medical plan you make with your doctor. Your holistic plan will take exercise, diet and meditation into consideration; these are really important in helping you take control of your psoriasis. (I've written an article about making a holistic plan here.)
As well as a holistic plan, it’s important that you practise good self-care! Make sure to keep your work hours under control, ensuring you have a good work/life balance, so you can keep up healthy routines at home. Exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep every night, and meal planning (so you can be sure you’re eating well in the office) all require good time management.
Staying hydrated inside and out is so important, especially if you have psoriasis or a dry skin condition! Ensuring you get the recommended amount of water each will help your skin stay hydrated from inside out.
It’s also critical to keep your skin hydrated on the outside by regular moisturising! Knowing what moisturiser is right for your own particular skin is a simple and easy way of taking control of your psoriasis and making your skin feel smoother.
Baths and showers are a good way of hydrating your skin too – but be careful! Using water that’s too hot can irritate your skin and make redder. Also, using bubble bath might irritate your psoriasis and cause it to worsen.
When I need a relaxing night, I run a warm bath with Dead Sea salts instead of bubble bath. Dead Sea salts can really relieve the itchiness, scaling, and inflammation caused by psoriasis. This helps me relax and feel more in control! I only stay in the bath for around 15 minutes: any longer and my skin gets irritated, which is exactly what I’m trying to avoid!
The more you know about this auto-immune disease, the better you’ll be able to manage your condition. If you understand how psoriasis affects your body, you’ll learn what your triggers are, and can avoid the things that make your condition worse.
Learning more about psoriasis will also help with doctors’ appointments; you’ll have a better understanding of what the doctor’s talking about, and what medications or options for treatment there are to keep your psoriasis under control.
I hope these tips will help you to take more control of your psoriasis, and inspire you to find your own ways of managing your condition!
Remember, psoriasis is individual to each person, so make sure you are doing what works for you!