Psoriasis is a chronic disease that affects the skin when the immune system malfunctions and speeds the growth cycle of skin cells. While psoriasis is not contagious, it can make people feel unattractive. The most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, which accounts for about 80 percent of psoriasis cases. It is characterized by raised, inflamed, red patches covered by a silvery white scale that typically appear on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back, though it can appear on any part of the body.

Psoriasis is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic factors and environmental "triggers" that cause flare-ups, such as:

  • Stress
  • Skin injuries
  • Certain medications
  • Allergies
  • Diet
  • Weather
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption

Not everyone who has psoriasis is affected by all of the above triggers and they may have their own unique set of conditions that cause their skin to react.

Psoriasis often does not clear completely, Craig Kraffert, MD, a dermatologist in Redding, California. "Flare-ups of psoriasis are not like those of rosacea and the course of psoriasis is usually not one of great fluctuations in disease activity."

So what are the best ways to deal with the physical effects of psoriasis to feel as beautiful as possible? While Kraffert says the best way to deal with psoriasis is to seek optimized medical treatment, there are additional steps you can take to reduce symptoms.

1. Moisturize regularly

Your doctor may prescribe a specific moisturizing skin cream or lotion or may recommend you try over-the-counter products. Keeping your skin well-moisturized will help heal flare-ups, reduce inflammation, and help prevent new outbreaks from occurring. It will also make the dry, scaly patches appear less "angry." You can treat hard patches over night by applying moisturizer or olive oil to your skin or scalp, wrap the area in plastic wrap or in a shower cap and wash it off in the morning.

2. Take baths instead of showers

Even better than a daily shower, taking a bath in warm (not too hot) water every day will help soften scales, soothe skin and promote healing. If your doctor says it's OK, you can exfoliate patches gently with a washcloth to remove dead skin cells.

3. Apply concealer and foundation

As long as your patches aren't cracked, painful or bleeding, using a foundation makeup and/or concealer is a great way to cover up the redness. Ask your doctor for recommendations of products that are safe for psoriatic skin. If redness is very prominent, you might find your best coverage with makeup specifically formulated to cover burns and scars.

4. Play up your best features

The best way to distract attention from one area is to play up and highlight others. For example, carefully apply make-up to accentuate your beautiful eyes or perfect lips. Have a stylist who is familiar with psoriasis help you find your perfect hairstyle. Invest in a stylish wardrobe and wear beautiful jewelry or other accessories. When you spend time on the rest of your appearance, your confidence and natural beauty will shine through.

Craig Kraffert, MD, reviewed this article.



National Psoriasis Foundation

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Questions and Answers about Psoriasis.