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What to Do When You Wake Up with a New Psoriasis Flare: A Step-by-Step Guide

By EmpowHER
 
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The big day is finally here. You’re excited or nervous about what’s ahead and wake up with a psoriasis flare. This could feel like a setback. What do you do?

Treating psoriasis the day of an important event can be hard, especially because the condition doesn’t just “go away” after a simple treatment. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that you must manage constantly. While there’s no magic cure for this day-of dilemma, you can take several steps to help your flare.

Here is what you want to keep in mind when evaluating and treating psoriasis for an important event:

  • You may be concerned about the look of your flare, but you have a medical condition that requires care and attention. There are ways to minimize the scales and other symptoms, but they aren’t likely to go away altogether in a single day.
  • You may experience pain and discomfort from the flare. You’ll want to try to soothe the skin and soften the scale. You may also be interested in taking a pain-relieving medication.
  • You need to manage the itch and avoid any urge to scratch the flare. Scratching the affected area will make it more irritated.

The following steps can help you calm a psoriasis flare. Keep in mind that everyone’s psoriasis is different, and you may require different care.

1. Think about your management plan

Before you do anything, go to your management plan for treating psoriasis. Have you and your doctor discussed ways you can treat a flare? Is there something you missed in the last few days that would help on the day of a special event?

It may not help right now, but note anything about your treatment plan that should be revised in the future. Psoriasis symptoms and triggers are unique to each person, so make sure to consider reasons you may be experiencing this flare. You can take this information to your next doctor’s appointment to modify your management plan. This may help any future psoriasis outbreaks.

2. Calm down

Stress can cause inflammation and activate your immune system, resulting in a psoriasis flare. Make sure the current flare doesn’t get worse due to more stress. This will just create a vicious cycle.

Take a moment to consider how you can relax. Is there a meditation or a short yoga routine you could do? Do you de-stress by watching a TV show, reading a good book, or going for a run? What about calling a friend or family member to talk through the situation? Bottling up the stress you’re feeling won’t make your big day any easier.

3. Shower and bathe

Taking a shower or bath may help your psoriasis. A warm bath may relax you. Don’t use hot water because it’ll dry out your skin and could irritate it even more. If you’re in pain from the psoriasis outbreak, try a cold shower. This may soothe your skin. Showers should be no more than 10 minutes.

Make sure to avoid bathing products that contain fragrance, as this can irritate your skin.

Try a bath diluted with Epsom salts, oil, or oatmeal. This may soften and remove scale caused by the flare. These methods may also soothe your skin and help with your urge to scratch. Soaking for about 15 minutes may be all you need to feel better.

4. Apply lotions and creams to calm your skin

After bathing or showering, you need to moisturize your skin. You should use fragrance-free, gentle products. You may just need a thin layer of lotion or a thicker cream or ointment.

If your psoriasis is very painful and inflamed, put your moisturizer in the refrigerator and apply it when it cools.

After you apply the emollient, consider whether you should try occlusion. This process covers moisturizers so they can be better absorbed by your body. Items that can occlude your moisturizer include plastic wrap and waterproof bandages.

5. Consider whether you need an over-the-counter product to calm the inflamed area

Depending on the severity of your flare, you may need to apply an over-the-counter product to treat the psoriasis. Several options are available. You should follow the instructions on the package of the products or consult your doctor before using them because they may have strong side effects. Some of these products include:

  • Keratolytics, such as salicylic acid, lift the scale from your skin.
  • Tar may help restore your skin after a flare. It may also help with itching, scales, and inflammation.
  • Hydrocortisone is a very mild steroid available over the counter. It targets the inflammation and redness caused by the flare. However, keep in mind it likely won’t be strong enough to clear your skin.

6. Take necessary medications

Make sure to take the medications prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor may recommend a regular oral medication to combat moderate or severe psoriasis, or a stronger topical medication to help with flares.

Your doctor may also recommend a good over-the-counter pain reliever or antihistamine to relieve psoriasis symptoms.

7. Get out in the sun

Sunshine may help calm your psoriasis. Light therapy is a common treatment for more serious psoriasis, and a dose of natural light could help the flare. However, limit exposure of your skin to about 10 minutes. In addition, be aware that sun exposure can increase your risk for skin cancer, and any light therapy should be done in conjunction with your doctor.

8. Contact your doctor

If your psoriasis flare is causing a great deal of distress, pain, or discomfort, call your doctor. Your doctor may be able to provide useful tips for getting through your important day.

Read more in Psoriasis Resources
Frequently asked questions: Psoriasis spring, summer, fall and winter. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/faqs/weather Khoury, L. R., Skov, L., & Moller, T. (2016, December 29). Facing the dilemma of patient-centered psoriasis care: A qualitative study identifying patient needs in dermatological outpatient clinics [Abstract]. British Journal of Dermatology. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjd.15292/full Managing itch. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/managing-itch National Psoriasis Foundation. (n.d.). Topical treatments for psoriasis. Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/sites/default/files/topicals_booklet.pdf Over the counter, not over your head. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/topicals/over-the-counter Psoriasis: Treatments. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/psoriasis-an-overview/psoriasis-treatment Stress and psoriatic disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/stress Topical treatments. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/topicals

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