Coping With Plaque Psoriasis in Daily Life

Take a holistic approach to your psoriasis care

Living Well with Plaque Psoriasis
Living Well with Plaque Psoriasis. Portra Images/Getty Images

Chronic plaque psoriasis goes way deeper than the skin. In fact, the psychological toll of psoriasis can be more burdensome on a daily basis than the skin irritation itself.

Soothing Psoriasis Itch

The "itch" of a psoriasis plaque is commonly described as burning and almost painful. It can be incessant, driving a person crazy with scratching. But unfortunately, scratching can further irritate the skin, making the problem worse.

To soothe your psoriasis itch, speak with your dermatologist about the best moisturizing ointment and cream to use on a daily basis. Be sure to apply it right after bathing to ensure you are trapping moisture into your skin. Consider keeping your moisturizer in the refrigerator—a cool cream on the skin feels good and can help soothe any itchiness.

In addition, talk with your dermatologist about on-the-skin treatments that can help remove the scaling, flaky part of your psoriasis plaque. These topical treatments can calm the itch and allow moisturizers to better penetrate the skin.    

Communicate With Your Dermatologist

While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are lots of options to treat it. But it does require a trusting relationship with a dermatologist and continued resiliency on your part to find the treatment regimen that is right for you. Be sure to communicate regularly with your dermatologist and/or his or her nurse.

Also, it's not a good idea to stop your psoriasis medications without your doctor's guidance. Stopping it suddenly can worsen your psoriasis or cause it to turn into a different type of psoriasis. Whether the medications are too expensive or you are experiencing an unpleasant side effect, your dermatologist  has likely heard your concern before, and he or she can help you.

Consider Mind-Body Therapies

Mind-body therapies allow you to take a more active role in your skin and overall health.  These therapies can help ease the emotional effects of your psoriasis, helping you combat daily feelings like anger, frustration, fear, or embarrassment. If anything, these calming mind-body therapies can simply make you feel good, something you deserve.

Examples of mind-body therapies include:

In addition, these therapies can help reduce stress, and we know stress can actually worsen your psoriasis, creating an unpleasant cycle. In fact, research suggests that stress can serve as a barrier to how a person responds to their psoriasis treatment. So consider starting off each day with a short session of yoga, meditation, or whatever invigorates you, so you can feel good and start off the day on a low key, positive note.

Get Support

If you or your loved one suffers from psoriasis, do not feel alone. Psoriasis is actually quite common, affecting up to three percent of the population, but the good news is that there are a number of ways to reach out to others with psoriasis—when you are ready.

Social media groups, like psoriasis facebook pages, or an online community called TalkPsoriasis.org, are engaging, highly utilized online resources for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The nice aspect of online groups is that they allow you to share information from the comforts of your own home.

That being said, if you prefer something more face-to-face, you can consider events hosted by your city's National Psoriasis Foundation chapter or ask your dermatologist if he or she knows of a local support group.

While becoming involved in a community of people who share the same condition can be highly therapeutic for some, how you use your support network is your call. Whether you like to swap tips for treating or covering plaques, share your ups and downs, or use the group as a bridge to form friendships (you can certainly talk about other things besides psoriasis), meeting others who share your same worries and vulnerabilities may help you cope well.

Be Mindful of Your Mood

Depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditions may co-occur with plaque psoriasis. If you are experiencing a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed and/or an overall low mood nearly everyday, it's important to see your doctor. Hopelessness, guilt, or outbursts of anger or irritability may also be a sign of an underlying mood disorder.

You may benefit from seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist who has experience working with people with psoriasis. You may also benefit from taking an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

Of course, if you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please seek emergent medical attention. Suicide is more common in those with psoriasis than in those who do not have psoriasis.

A Word from Verywell

Caring for your plaque psoriasis requires a holistic approach. This means treating not only your skin, but the rest of your body and mind too.

It's true that living with psoriasis can be a tough, daily journey. But be reassured that with the right medication and coping strategies, you can live a fulfilling life with it.

Sources:

American Academy of Dermatology. Psoriasis: Tips for Managing.

Kurd SK, Gelfand JM. The prevalence of previously diagnosed and undiagnosed psoriasis in US adults: results from NHANES 2003-2004. J Am Scad Dermatol. 2009 Feb;60(2):218-24.

Kurd SK, Troxel AB, Crits-Christoph P, Gelfand JM. The risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidality in patients with psoriasis: A population-based cohort study. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Aug;146(8):891-95.

National Psoriasis Foundation. Managing Itch.

Noormohammadpour P. Evaluation of some psychological factors in psoriatic patients. Iran J Psychiatry. 2015;10(1):37-42.

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