5 habits that could be making your skin worse

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If you suffer from psoriasis, you know how frustrating this disease can be. The telltale plaques — thick, reddish patches of skin with silvery scales — can appear at any time and stay for months. For the 7.5 million Americans who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseasean overactive immune system accelerates the growth of skin cells, resulting in itchy or painful patches of skin.

Your genes may put you at risk for psoriasis, but environmental factors, including lifestyle changes, can make symptoms worse. Here are six habits you’ll want to break for the sake of your skin.

Habit #1: Take a shower once in a while

If the lockdown has loosened up your grooming habits — say, you’re skipping showers or sitting in sweaty gear after a ride — getting back on track is key. “Regular showers help soften the plaques and remove excess dead skin,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell New York-Presbyterian Medical Center. It is especially important to rinse off after training. “Sweat contains salt, which can dry out and irritate existing plaques.”

To minimize irritation, opt for lukewarm rather than hot showers and avoid abrasive scrubs. Apply a moisturizer immediately after bathing to rehydrate and protect the skin. Dr. Garshick likes formulas containing salicylic acid, lactic acid, or urea, which act as keratolytic agents to help reduce plaque thickness. “They allow topical treatments to penetrate more easily,” she explains.

Although thicker creams and ointments may be more effective than lighter lotions in combating itchy and flaky skin, it’s all a matter of preference, she says. “At the end of the day, it’s about finding a product that you love and will actually use.”

Habit #2: Run away from the sun

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When it comes to curbing psoriasis flare-ups, it seems like a little sunshine is better than nothing. “UV exposure has a naturally immunosuppressive effect,” says Garshick. In fact, it’s so powerful in relieving symptoms that dermatologists often prescribe phototherapy treatments, in which artificial UVB rays are emitted through a light box or hand-held excimer laser.

If you choose to catch certain rays outside of a controlled setting, consult your doctor first. “Certain topical and systemic medications can increase photosensitivity,” she says. Then adopt safe sun behavior, applying adequate sun protection to areas not affected by psoriasis and limiting your exposure to 10 minutes. Don’t overdo it, warns Garshick. Sunburn increases the risk of skin cancers and, in some patients, causes the development or worsening of psoriatic lesions.

Habit #3: Adopting a diet high in sugar

Scientists have long known that obesity and psoriasis go hand in hand. But even if your BMI is in a healthy range, the foods you eat may not help. Even a short-term spurt of a diet high in saturated fats and simple sugars can trigger psoriasis-like inflammation in the body, suggests a 2020 study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatologythere. Although there is no definitive diet plan for psoriasis, many people with psoriasis find relief with a balanced diet full of anti-inflammatory foods, such as salmon, broccoli, berries and lemon. ‘attorney.

Habit #4: Stress

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Traffic jams and 12-hour workdays don’t just hurt your mood, they mess with your skin too. “There is a clear connection between mind and body,” says Dr. Garshick. “Some people find that their psoriasis causes them stress, while others notice that it flares up during times of stress.”

You know exercise when it comes to stress relief. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, and consider adding meditation or yoga to your daily routine. Finally, set aside time each day to do something you enjoy, whether it’s running or playing your guitar. It might mean saying no to a commitment, but meeting your needs is one of the best ways to control tension and keep it from showing up on your skin.

Habit #5: Lighting up

Aside from all the obvious unhealthy reasons, smoking increases your risk of psoriasis and can make flare-ups worse. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that long-time smokers had almost twice the risk of developing psoriasis than non-smokers.

The chemicals in regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes restrict blood flow, which puts the body in a state of stress that can inflame the skin. Nicotine also harms the immune system, causing skin cells to build up too quickly. Bottom line: It’s as bad for your skin as it is for the rest of you.

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