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8 Lifestyle Changes That Can Help You Manage Your Psoriasis

Living Well

November 06, 2023

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Photography by andreswd/Getty Images

Photography by andreswd/Getty Images

by Stefanie Remson


Medically Reviewed by:

Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI


by Stefanie Remson


Medically Reviewed by:

Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI


Diet and medication are just two of the ways you can help relieve your symptoms. Read on to discover a wider variety of tips.

If you have psoriasis (PsO), you may already know that lifestyle changes can help you manage flares, plaques, and the disease itself. However, some methods that work well for others might not work as well for you.

Here are several angles you can take when trying to get a better handle on your condition.

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1. Mindful diet and nutrition

Since various foods can cause inflammation, being mindful of your nutritional intake is important when you have PsO.

According to a 2023 research review, consuming an anti-inflammatory diet may help with PsO. This diet emphasizes whole, plant-based foods that are rich in healthy fats and phytonutrients. It can benefit PsO by decreasing overall inflammation in your body through specific food choices.

Foods that can help decrease inflammation include:

  • berries
  • fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel
  • broccoli
  • avocados
  • green tea
  • peppers
  • mushrooms
  • grapes
  • turmeric
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • dark chocolate and cocoa
  • tomatoes
  • cherries

Foods to avoid when following an anti-inflammatory diet, since they may promote inflammation, include:

  • highly processed foods such as potato chips and fast food
  • refined, simple carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, crackers, and biscuits
  • fried foods
  • high sugar beverages such as soda, juice, sweetened teas, and sports drinks
  • processed meats such as bacon, ham, and hot dogs

A Mediterranean diet, which has many similarities to an anti-inflammatory diet, can also be PsO-friendly. Plus, this diet can help prevent heart attacks, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of premature death.

Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, healthy fats, and whole grains can bring various anti-inflammatory properties into your diet, helping to minimize your flares.

Protein-restricted diets may benefit your PsO as well. Protein restriction may suppress systemic inflammation and inhibit the development of new blood vessels, creating an environment in which PsO has fewer triggers and is more responsive to therapy.

Lastly, vitamins and other supplements can help you make sure you get the complete nutritional support you need. Supplements that may benefit PsO include:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • carotenoids, which are also known as provitamin A and plant pigments
  • flavonoids, which are also known as vitamin P, bioflavonoids, or polyphenols
  • selenium
  • vitamin D
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2. Getting some sun

If you have PsO skin plaques, you probably notice improvement after spending short periods of time in the sun. You may even notice that your skin clears up in the summer for this reason.

Data shows clinical improvement of PsO after sun exposure, which is preceded by a rapid reduction in local and systemic inflammatory markers. This suggests that sun exposure helps regulate your immune system response.

Because the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays have been found to be so effective for managing PsO and PsO-related skin plaques, a variety of artificial UV phototherapy treatment options are available in medical offices.

More research is necessary to find out the duration and amount of sun exposure that’s best for PsO, but phototherapy might be worth exploring with your doctor.

3. Reducing stress

The links between stress and PsO are complex and not entirely understood. Stress is a very commonly reported PsO trigger, and conversely, a PsO flare can cause you stress. If you’re living with PsO, you may have experienced this seemingly endless loop firsthand.

According to a 2018 research review, people with PsO report that stress is a trigger in 31–88% of cases. The authors also found a higher incidence of PsO in people who experienced a stressful event within the previous year.

Relaxation techniques and stress management may help prevent stress from making your PsO worse.

You may want to look into the following stress management approaches:

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4. Limiting alcohol

Alcohol intake may affect your PsO, and limiting your alcohol intake may actually improve your overall condition. Alcohol may trigger immune system problems that can lead to immunosuppression, putting you at an increased risk of both bacterial and viral infections.

Alcohol leads to the production of inflammatory cytokines and cell cycle activators. This can cause skin cells to regenerate excessively, which is already an issue in PsO.

Consuming excessive alcohol has also been linked to an increase in infections, including skin infections, and can affect overall skin health.

Additionally, alcohol may interfere with your body’s ability to process medications effectively and can interact with some medications used to treat PsO and other chronic conditions.

If you have PsO, you can choose to not drink at all or to drink moderately. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans define moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for females and no more than two drinks per day for males. 

5. Improving your sleep

Sleep is important for managing PsO. We know that sleep affects the immune system, and PsO is a disease of immune system dysfunction. Sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of inflammatory cytokines, which may already be elevated if you’re living with PsO.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene. This includes the following habits:

  • Be consistent with your sleep schedule, even on the weekends.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature whenever possible.
  • Remove electronics such as TVs, computers, and phones from your bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed and limit your intake throughout the day.
  • Avoid the use of tobacco and nicotine products.
  • Stay active and get regular exercise.
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6. Exercising regularly

Physical activity improves your overall health and can help improve PsO.

PsO may present some barriers to participating in regular exercise. For example, you may want to avoid situations that require a lot of skin exposure. And you might also have psoriatic arthritis, which can cause significant joint pain.

A 2022 research review found that exercise may be effective at preventing PsO and can reduce its severity in people with overweight.

Here are some tips to help you get regular exercise with PsO:

  • Start slowly and build up gradually.
  • Wear loose, cool, and comfortable clothing to avoid sweating and friction on plaques.
  • Apply a lubricant, such as petroleum jelly or talcum powder, to areas that might become irritated.
  • Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
  • Choose activities that use major muscle groups and increase your heart rate, such as brisk walking, cycling, and swimming.
  • Add resistance, or weight training, to your routine when possible.
  • Take a shower after exercising to prevent sweat from sitting on your skin.

7. Joining a support group

Know that you’re not alone! Getting involved with the PsO community, finding resources, and making connections with others can help you thrive with the condition.

The National Psoriasis Foundation has some great resources here.

You might be amazed at how beneficial it is to find a group of people who really understand what you’re going through with PsO.

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8. Sticking to your treatment plan

You most likely already know that following your treatment plan is not always easy. And your PsO likely gets worse if you don’t use medications as directed. You’re not the only one dealing with this.

The American Academy of Dermatology recognizes adherence as a hurdle in treating PsO.

In a small 2022 study involving 93 people with PsO, researchers found a 50% adherence rate for topical treatments.

Additionally, the authors of a 2022 review concluded that more research should be done on this complex issue but that compliance to biologic medication was suboptimal.

According to a 2011 review, prescribing therapy in line with patients’ treatment preferences and improving the healthcare professional-patient relationship may be key factors in improving adherence to treatment.

To best manage your PsO, it’s important to work closely with your healthcare team to express your concerns, make requests, and share details about your lifestyle.

This approach may help you follow your treatment plan and improve your skin outcomes and your quality of life.

The bottom line

Many lifestyle strategies can help you manage your PsO and keep you feeling your best.

You can talk with a healthcare professional about which treatment and management options might be best for you.

Medically reviewed on November 06, 2023

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About the author

Stefanie Remson

Ms. Stefanie Remson MSN, APRN, FNP-BC is the CEO and founder of She is a family nurse practitioner and is a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient herself. She has spent her entire life serving the community as a healthcare professional and has refused to let RA slow her down. She has worked with The Arthritis Foundation, The Lupus Foundation of America, Healthline, Grace and Able, Arthritis Life, Musculo, Aila, and HopeX. You can learn more at her website and on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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