Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis. It affects the body's immune system and produces excessive skin cells. These extra cells build up on the skin, causing a scaly rash.
Living with psoriasis can negatively affect your self-image and skin. Douglass Forsha, MD, and his team at Jordan Valley Dermatology Center in South Jordan, Utah, treat plaque psoriasis to help reduce your symptoms and recognize triggers.
Winter can trigger psoriasis flares, but there are many ways to counteract the drying effects of cold weather and indoor heating.
Plaque psoriasis basics
Psoriasis is a skin condition in which skin cells multiply up to 10 times faster than they should, causing an excess buildup of skin cells. Plaque psoriasis appears as raised and red patches covered with a silvery buildup of dead skin cells or scales. The scaly patches can heal and return throughout your life. It’s not contagious and usually appears in adulthood.
Plaque psoriasis triggers
Plaque psoriasis patches can appear anywhere on your body but are most often found on your knees, elbows, scalp, and lower back.
Common triggers for plaque psoriasis include:
- Skin injury
- Certain medications
- Starting or stopping medicines
- Tobacco or alcohol use
- Cold weather
- Dry air
Psoriasis plaques are generally symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body simultaneously.
Managing symptoms in the winter
As winter approaches in Utah, psoriasis symptoms can worsen for some people, but you don’t have to wait for warmer weather for relief. These tips can help you stay comfortable during the cold, dry months.
Use a humidifier
Prevent plaque psoriasis flare-ups by keeping the indoor air moist. Using a humidifier, especially at night, can counter the drying effects of indoor heating.
Keep skin moist
Keep your skin moist to reduce itching and redness and heal psoriasis patches. Thick creams and ointments lock moisture into your skin. After bathing, showering, or washing your hands, apply moisturizing soap and lotion. Avoid allergic reactions by choosing fragrance-free products.
Avoid hot showers
Rather than taking a hot shower, enjoy a soothing bath. You lose moisture from your skin when you take a long shower in hot water. Wash with warm water for just a few minutes and then rinse off. Or, fill the bathtub with warm water and add oil, finely ground oatmeal, or Epsom salts to soothe itching, slough off scales, and unwind.
Soak for about 15 minutes. To lock the water in, apply a moisturizing cream or lotion immediately after your soak.
Wear appropriate clothing
The cold weather and wind can irritate your skin and trigger flare-ups. Cover yourself with a soft scarf, hat, and gloves to protect your exposed skin when you walk outside this winter.
Wear layers that you can remove to avoid overheating because perspiration can aggravate psoriasis. Wear fabrics made of cotton instead of wool, denim, and other materials that could irritate your skin.
Create a treatment plan
Managing plaque psoriasis any time of year is challenging, but winter can be especially difficult.
To help you feel better, Dr. Forsha and our staff at Jordan Valley Dermatology Center create customized psoriasis management plans. While some therapies work by stopping your skin cells from reproducing too quickly, others help eliminate scales and lessen flare-ups.
Our team might recommend the following:
- Sunlight exposure therapy
- Artificial UV light therapy
- Salicylic acid
- Excimer laser therapy
With prescription medications and clinical treatment, Dr. Forsha might also encourage home care like moisturizing, baths, and uncovering and eliminating your unique triggers.
You don’t have to be itchy and uncomfortable this winter. Our skin experts can help.
Call Jordan Valley Dermatology Center to learn more about the various psoriasis treatment plans we can create for you.