Here are a few ideas from folks with psoriasis to help you feel great. Troyce, Heather and Deirdre share how they keep flares at bay and feel terrific year-round!
Shine the light
Come wintertime, Heather Durocher’s skin takes a beating as the temperatures dip. “That’s why I use in-home light therapy,” the Saginaw, MI, resident says. “I invested in a 6-foot-tall light box seven years ago. It helps during the months we go without a lot of sunshine for days and it’s so cold.” The National Psoriasis Foundation says ultraviolet B (UVB) light units (which require a prescription) can be an effective treatment for psoriasis; UVB light (which is present in sunlight) penetrates the skin and slows the growth of affected skin cells.
Find calm each day
Despite busy days teaching and working on instructional DVDs, Troyce makes sure to maintain a sense of “calm” in her life. “I take walks through nature when I can, and I always opt for the most natural setting. If it’s a choice between pavement or a dirt path, I take the dirt path. No headphones. I like to listen to nature — the sounds of the ocean and of birds.”
Open up to new activities!
A devoted runner, Heather didn’t expect to like road biking or swimming—until she tried them. “I had to go out of my comfort zone to give these two sports a try since I wanted to get into triathlons,” she says. “It feels good to work my muscles in different ways — and these are two more ways I can maintain a strong body and strong mind as I live with a chronic disease.”
Try tai chi
“Tai chi clears my mind and calms me,” says Troyce Thome, of San Clemente, CA. “It’s comforting on a deep level and it alleviates stress—which has reduced the frequency, intensity and severity of my psoriasis flares,” says Troyce, who began studying tai chi, sometimes referred to as “moving meditation,” 20 years ago. She hasn’t experienced a flare since! (While she does get an occasional spot or two on her legs, they disappear quickly without treatment.) Now she teaches tai chi! “It loosens stiff muscles, which create tension in the body. When it’s too cold to go out or the weather is bad, I practice tai chi at home. You need only a very small space — and no equipment.”
Find a de-stressor
For Deirdre Earls, a registered dietitian and author of Your Healing Diet (yourhealingdiet.com), it’s walking her dog, Santiago, in the park each day. Santiago gets his exercise and Deirdre gets “sunshine, fresh air, quiet — and also peace of mind!” Banishing stress and anxiety helps tamper inflammation in the gut and skin, she says.
with your dermatologist,” says Heather, who’s thrilled to have found a great doctor with whom she feels comfortable. “He’s helped me find the right medication… and he’s just very supportive and helpful. That makes a world of difference.”
Moisturize before you head outdoors
“This time of year, when I’m outdoors playing with my kids and husband, or training for a spring marathon, my skin needs extra TLC,” says Heather. “I make sure I moisturize well, especially the areas of my body where psoriasis pops up (for me, that’s my lower legs). My skin is so incredibly sensitive, especially my face, so I use lotions and creams that are for sensitive skin (no dyes).”
Visualize your body detoxing
Whether she’s running, teaching tai chi or taking a walk at sunset, Troyce visualizes her blood “getting rid of the toxins and gunk.” She explains: “The Chinese have the idea you can purify the blood through any kind of exercise that gets the blood moving.” By boosting her mood, diminishing stress and reducing inflammation, visualizing while exercising can deliver a one-two punch against psoriasis.
“Find a moisturizer that works for your skin,” says Heather, who’s identified a few products she relies on to keep her skin soft, smooth and hydrated. Since that can take some experimenting, buy the smallest size tube or jar possible — or a trial size, if that’s available. As Heather has found, “What works for one person with psoriasis doesn’t necessarily work for another individual with this condition.”
to track your progress So you’ve switched medications or implemented some new lifestyle change, but you’re still waiting for the results to show up? Try taking pictures, suggests Deirdre. Subtle changes are easier to spot if you have “before” and “after” pictures to compare. “It can be easy to quit when healing isn’t quick,” says Deirdre, adding that the snapshots kept her motivated.