Hi all! I wanted to do a post today about self-care, but I realized I’m not sure how to do self-care, so I decided instead to discuss something I’m more familiar with: care of others. Specifically, my husband. More specifically, his psoriasis. Hubby gets psoriasis flare-ups on his legs primarily (though sometimes his arms too) that get ridiculous and out of control. I feel some pity for him, of course, but I usually end up going nuts about treating it mainly because the scratching drives me berserk.
Since he is a child and can’t Google it himself (sorry, Hubby), I end up trying to find ways for him to deal with it myself. Since I started trying to help him treat it and have found that there is no “miracle cure”, I have begun taking his psoriasis’s resistance to my efforts very personally, so now I’m on a wild vendetta to find something that works.
I’m a big fan of home therapy using natural stuff not because I’m a crunchy hippy, but because 1) it’s cheaper, and 2) it generally comes without side effects. If Hubby goes to the doctor over his psoriasis, they will typically prescribe something steroidal, which is fine, but it disrupts his sleep and can make him pretty grouchy. Last time, they gave him a little bottle of cream that cost $60. $60!! No.
I have been on the hunt for several years now for effective, cheap home treatments for psoriasis, and I feel like we’ve tried it all. I will share my knowledge in the hopes that it will help you or someone you love so you too can not have to listen to incessant scratching. Or less anyway. Or…at least feel like you’re trying. A for effort, right?
What is psoriasis?
Let’s clear the air here. My mom, bless her heart, said that if she didn’t know Hubby had psoriasis, she would think he had fleas with the way he scratches and the way his skin looks. Good news: it’s not an ongoing flea infestation, and it’s not contagious. Here’s a definition from Psoriasis.com:
“With normal skin, your body takes about 28 to 30 days to produce new skin cells and shed the old ones. When your body has plaque psoriasis, your immune system is overactive, triggering skin inflammation and causing skin cells to be produced faster than normal. New skin cells are pushed to the skin’s surface in 3 to 4 days instead of the usual 28 to 30. But your body can’t shed the new skin cells at that fast of a rate. So while new skin cells are being produced, the old, dead skin cells pile up on top of each other. As more and more new skin cells are produced rapidly, the old skin cells are pushed to the surface, forming the thick, red, itchy, flaky patches known as plaques.”
Sounds fun, right? So, the takeaway is that you can’t cure it with medicine, and you can’t cure it with home treatments. It’s a chronic condition; it’s not going to go away permanently. What you can do is treat it to ease the symptoms, and you can try to minimize the risk of flare-ups in the first place.
To minimize the risk of flare-ups in the first place…
- Reduce stress. Yes, just cut all stress out of your life and you will never get psoriasis again. Good luck! Sorry, friends, I have no good suggestions for this, but reducing stress is an important factor. Stress is a huge contributor to flare-ups, so do what you can.
- Eat healthy and exercise. I’m sure none of you have ever heard that before for any other health issue. Healthy in this case means a lot of healthy fats, fish, fruits and vegetables, etc. just like most other healthy diets. Nothing too crazy here. Just a healthy lifestyle can contribute to better immune function.
- Stay hydrated. If your skin is moist, it’s harder for it to get itchy. Drink lots of water, and use a humidifier to keep your home less dry. Hubby definitely sees an increase in psoriasis severity in the winter, and I suspect using our humidifier more religiously would help a lot.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol. Again, common sense for a healthy lifestyle.
- Avoid fragrances and dyes. This can be really tricky, and we’re not good at observing this until a flare-up actually happens. When we are thinking smart, we buy dye-free, unscented laundry detergent, unscented dryer sheets, Dial gold antibiotic soap, and a million other unscented things. I tried to convince him to use unscented deodorant once, but he drew the line. Can’t blame him. Basically, though, anything unscented is going to be better than anything with fragrance in it.
To treat a flare-up once it’s started…
- Olive oil on the skin can help to hydrate it.
- Mineral oil.
- Aquaphor, which is essentially Vaseline and mineral oil mixed together.
- Oatmeal baths can help, but…
- Hot water can make psoriasis worse, so make sure to use only lukewarm water all the time, not just for an oatmeal bath.
- Fish oil is helpful. You can take a pill, or I have been known to cut them open and have Hubby put the goo directly on his skin.
- Vitamin D has been shown to help. Vitamin D is actually my personal favorite ever because it can give a pretty good mood boost. Normally, you get vitamin D from the sun, so that ties in to…
- Light therapy. Some people swear by actually going to a tanning bed to help soothe psoriasis, but even just letting the affected skin get a little sun naturally outside seems to help Hubby quite a bit.
- Chamomile tea bags on the skin. I’m not sure how effective this really was, but we’ve tried it!
- Epsom salts in a bath.
- Body scrub. I make a mean body scrub from brown sugar, honey, and olive oil. The brown sugar provides the “scrub”, honey has some anti-inflammatory properties, and as I mentioned, olive oil is a great moisturizer. I’ve never measured it exactly, but I would estimate about a cup of brown sugar, two tablespoons of honey, and two tablespoons of olive oil.
- Pine tar soap. That stuff reeks, but it’s supposed to be great for skin conditions like psoriasis, and Hubby says it helps.
Hubby usually use a combination of all of these things before and during a flare-up. I have made some very bizarre concoctions by just throwing a whole bunch of these things together. It’s worth noting that what works for one person won’t work for another, and we even see varying success each time he uses something. One time, olive oil will knock it out; the next it can’t even touch the psoriasis. Probably once a year, Hubby’s skin does get bad enough even with all of these remedies that he has to cave and go to the doctor. There’s no shame in that; the most important thing is finding what works for relief.
So, that’s that! Do you know anyone with psoriasis? Have you ever tried any of these home remedies with (or without) success? I’d love to hear from you; drop a comment below!