August 21, 2015 | by Tanya Hathaway MD

Embarrassed by severely dry skin? Concerned it could be something more?

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes skin cells to multiply faster than normal and build up on the surface of the skin. This results in thick patches of severely dry skin that can be red, scaly, itchy, and even painful. Fortunately, there are many treatments available, ranging from lifestyle changes and prescription topical treatments to biologics and light therapy. Here are a few things you can do at home to help reduce psoriasis symptoms.

Keep Your Skin Moist

Frequent baths can help hydrate dry skin. Use lukewarm water and bath oils or Epsom salts, avoiding hot water and harsh soaps that can increase dryness. To hold in the moisture, use lotions and creams without excessive scents or dyes immediately after getting out of the water. Moisturizers like petroleum jelly and olive and coconut oil are usually more penetrating than regular lotions, so these oil-based solutions are recommended for particularly bad flare-ups. In cold or dry weather you might also need to apply cream or moisturizer multiple times a day.

Get Some Sun

A certain amount of controlled sunlight can significantly improve psoriasis lesions, however too much sun can worsen symptoms. When out in the sun remember to always wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30 so you don’t burn, which could dry out your skin further. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist before you begin a sunbathing or light therapy program.

Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

People who drink or smoke are more likely to have psoriasis, and see more severe symptoms. Alcohol can also decrease the effectiveness of some prescription psoriasis medications so removing alcohol from your diet altogether is advised.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that can be challenging to manage on your own. Those with psoriasis also have a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity, anxiety and depression, and inflammatory bowel disease. Talk to your primary care physician or dermatologist if you think you may have psoriasis. He or she will be able to accurately diagnose your condition and discuss the best treatment options for you.

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Written By: Tanya Hathaway MD