It’s sometimes itchy and painful, and there’s no cure for it. We’re talking about psoriasis, an autoimmune skin disorder that causes skin cells to multiply up to 10 times faster than usual. In its most common form, psoriasis results in red patches of skin with silver or while scales.

“While there’s no cure for psoriasis, there are many ways to improve and control this scaly rash,” said Geisinger dermatologist Christen Mowad, MD, FAAD.

1. Keep skin moisturized

You’re more likely to have flare-ups when your skin is dry. Try to use moisturizing creams, not lotions. Regular use of a moisturizing cream will help keep the skin hydrated. The type of climate in which you live can also affect the dryness of your skin. Cold climates, in particular, can cause your skin to dry out.

2. Pay attention to medications you take

There are many medications that help treat your psoriasis, but there are also medications that can cause your psoriasis to flare up. Lithium, which is commonly used to treat psychiatric disorders; propranolol, commonly prescribed for heart conditions; and quinidine, commonly used for heart arrhythmias, have been known to worsen psoriasis.

“Talk with your doctor about medications you take to see if they might interfere with your psoriasis,” said Dr. Mowad. “She might be able to prescribe an alternative that doesn’t cause outbreaks.”

3. Keep calm

Stress, including anxiety, also might cause psoriasis flare-ups. If there’s anything stressful going on in your personal life or at work, take measures to reduce it — exercise, practice meditation or yoga or take some deep, relaxing breaths. If you’re feelings of stress are prolonged, talk to your doctor about other coping strategies.

4. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is believed to worsen psoriasis symptoms and may prevent medications for psoriasis from being effective or being used. 

5. Stay out of the sun

While a little bit of natural sunlight every day can prevent flare-ups, too much can cause or worsen symptoms. Certain types of psoriasis medications could also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so make sure to check with your doctor.

6. Maintain an overall healthy lifestyle

“Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the strongest preventive measures you can take against almost any type of ailment, including psoriasis,” said Dr. Mowad.

7. Avoid injury to the skin

injury to the skin can cause flare-ups in the area of trauma. Things like bug bites or Irritation from sources such as shaving, acupuncture and getting tattoos can also cause flare-ups.