If your symptoms continue to flare even after you see a dermatologist, it’s important to keep using any treatments that your dermatologist has prescribed for you while you reach out to them about reassessing your regimen.
2. Consider light therapy.
Light therapy is one of the most common, effective psoriasis treatments for people with mild to moderate psoriasis. There are many different types of light therapy available, like narrow-band UVB therapy, broad-band UVB therapy, and laser treatments. Depending on your symptoms and what type of psoriasis you have, your doctor may recommend you try just one type of light therapy or a combination of them.
The exact reason that light therapy effectively treats psoriasis is not very well understood, but researchers believe it suppresses cells in the skin related to the immune response, ultimately calming down inflammation. There are likely multiple intricate processes going on in the body that create this effect.
If your doctor recommends light therapy, you’ll likely need to visit their office about three times each week, for 10 to 15 minutes per session, Dr. Ferris says. Over time, you probably won’t need to go in for treatment as frequently. “I have some patients who come maybe once a week, and that really maintains them,” Dr. Ferris says, adding that other people do well coming in just once every two weeks.
3. Try to keep stress levels low.
“Managing stress as much as possible is always ideal,” Dr. Burris says. This is true for anyone, but especially for someone with psoriasis. “We don’t really know why stress causes [psoriasis and other] skin diseases to flare, but it really does,” Dr. Ferris says.2
If you’re not sure how to relieve stress, consider yoga, meditation, journaling, exercise, sharing your feelings with a friend, or making an appointment with a therapist or other mental health professional. These stress-relieving activities and grounding exercises are a good place to start too.
4. Steer clear of hot showers.
A hot shower or bath in the winter might feel great at the time, but in the long run, it isn’t doing you any favors. In fact, hot water can seriously dry out your skin and strip it of nourishing oils. The AAD recommends keeping showers and baths to 10 minutes or less and showering or bathing in warm water rather than hot water.
5. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Dry skin is rampant in the winter, and all the more so if you have psoriasis. The Mayo Clinic recommends that people with psoriasis use a moisturizer every day—or even more than once a day if it helps your skin symptoms. Get in the habit of moisturizing right after you shower, and reapply lotion during the day if your skin feels dry and uncomfortable. The AAD also recommends sticking to fragrance-free creams and ointments to avoid irritating sensitive skin.
Dr. Ferris says that over-the-counter moisturizers containing salicylic acid can be helpful because they help get rid of dry skin and thin or soften psoriasis plaques, making it easier for topical medications to access the skin, which could make them more effective. Dr. Ferris notes that most over-the-counter moisturizers and shampoos with salicylic acid contain such low concentrations (2–6%) that it’s not typically irritating, especially when it’s in a cream or ointment.
6. Sleep with a humidifier.
A humidifier adds moisture back into the air, which can be helpful if your skin tends to be dry, cracked, or painful during the winter. Dr. Burris recommends using a humidifier at night during the cold, dry winter months to reduce dryness and the urge to scratch—which just makes things worse. “Dry skin is itchy skin, and the less one scratches, the less likely they will experience a flare in their underlying psoriasis or even eczema,” she says.
7. Take precautions to avoid getting sick.
As we know, infections and illnesses can trigger psoriasis flares. That becomes a much bigger risk during cold and flu (and COVID and RSV) season, when viral illnesses are more common, Dr. Burris says.