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Practical tips

KID 084
Building a positive plan

Be proactive

It can sometimes be very difficult to decide how to deal with a small area of skin that is itchy or a joint that is causing some irritation and you may feel that it is not worth bothering your doctor. In all cases, if you have symptoms that worry you, always consult a suitably qualified professional, but it may be worth trying some of the following practical tips, until such a time when you can make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

Tips for psoriasis

A common issue with psoriasis is that as the skin builds up and becomes dry, people have an urge to scratch. Try to avoid this, although you may feel it provides a very quick solution it will make the skin feel sore and possibly bleed too, which could then allow it to become infected. A tip is to use an emollient, these are creams that are applied to the skin (topical) and will soften the skin and make it less sore, so if you have the urge to scratch, rub in an emollient instead. For very mild psoriasis the use of an emollient might be sufficient to calm the skin.

If you have scratched your psoriasis and made your skin bleed, make sure you keep the area clean to avoid bacteria entering the exposed area and cover with a light dressing. This will also stop the blood transferring to clothing and bedding. If have a tendency to scratch at night in bed, try wearing cotton gloves as this might prevent your nails causing damage to your skin, but always make sure your hands and nails are clean, as transfer of dirt, viruses and bacteria into a wound and vice versa could occur. See NHS washing hands guidance.

Tips for psoriatic arthritis

With psoriatic arthritis a very common symptom is feeling stiff after rest, this may be on waking in the morning or after a period of time, perhaps siting at a desk or watching television. Whatever the cause you may find some simple stretching exercises useful our psoriatic arthritis physiotherapy and exercise page offers some tips, this is also available as a free online programme called iPhysio.

Gently stretching and moving around might also be sufficient to ease stiffness, particularity if it is impractical to carryout a fuller exercise routine. Work out what is best for you and your situation. 

For pain relief simple over-the-counter medication might be helpful, but always follow dosage recommendations and read the in-pack leaflet, particularly if you are taking any other medications or have other medical conditions. Your local pharmacist is a good source of advice and will be able to advise you on what is most suitable for your own circumstances.

Being proactive and understanding what helps you when you have a symptom and how to manage those symptoms can help you to be in control. Of course you should never ignore a rash or pain and always seek the reassurance of someone who is qualified, but simple steps and following recommendations such as those provided by the NHS 111 are a good start.