Advanced Nurse Practitioner and ISF Helpline Clinical Nurse Manager
Sunlight benefits people with psoriasis. However, winter exacerbates it due to reduced UV light, colder weather, hotter showers and central heating.
Psoriasis is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease characterised by red or silver scaly patches. It can affect any part of the body, but typically the elbows, knees and scalp. The cosmetic appearance and fear of social stigma can cause stress for many people. Factors that can trigger psoriasis flares include excess alcohol, smoking and stress.
Helpful tips for psoriasis management
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking
- Moisturise daily; regular use of emollients (moisturisers) decreases itch, burning, stinging and scale and increases penetration of prescribed active treatments
- Seek emollient advice from your healthcare provider or pharmacist regarding options including ointments, creams, gels, foams and aerosol sprays (some with active ingredients like urea to help descale psoriasis)
Let your healthcare professional know
if you are not responding to treatment
so that an alternative can be found.
Scalp psoriasis management steps
Scalp psoriasis affects approximately 80% of people with psoriasis and can be difficult to treat. Descaling is important to allow prescribed treatments to penetrate.
- Part hair at 1 cm intervals
- Apply tar preparation or coconut oil to parting; leave on overnight with a shower cap
- Loosen scale with a fine comb; comb upward, under the hair before shampooing
- When shampooing your hair, keep the water temperature tepid and use the cool setting on the hairdryer
If you experience inflammation, applying prescribed treatment can help. To maintain your scalp, use a treatment shampoo and lather on for 7 to 8 minutes. Apply emollient and descale regularly.
Be honest about your skin’s condition
- Let your healthcare professional know if you are not responding to treatment so that an alternative can be found. Do not suffer in silence. If your skin is getting you down, seek medical advice. There are many effective treatments for psoriasis.
The Irish Skin Foundation (ISF) is a national charity dedicated to improving the quality of life of people living with skin conditions. We operate an Ask-a-Nurse Helpline service, which provides accessible and specialist one-to-one guidance from dermatology nurses for people affected by all types of skin conditions in Ireland.