Best Shower Tips for Psoriasis

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My evening routine for psoriasis is simple: shower, moisturize, apply topical medication. But when I went to bed one night recently, I kept scratching, let alone falling asleep. That’s when I thought about changing the way I shower.

One of my easier said than done tips for psoriasis is to take short, lukewarm showers. It’s not that hard to do in the summer, but as the season changes and the temperatures drop, it’s a tough proposition. One chilly night, I couldn’t resist turning up the hot water.

I knew it was a risky thing to do, but after a long day at work and an evening jog, I longed for the relaxation of a hot shower. I figured if I moisturized immediately after toweling off, my skin would be fine.

I could tell right away it was a mistake. Before I even went to bed, my skin was starting to get dry and itchy.

Do everything but is not enough

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) lists eight ways to prevent baths and showers from making your psoriasis worse. “Psoriasis makes your skin dry and easily irritated,” the AAD states on its website. “Baths and showers can increase dryness and irritation.”

I generally follow most AAD advice:

  • I only take one bath a day, a habit since college.
  • I take quick showers under five minutes, use a moisture-rich cleanser, and gently pat my skin dry with a towel rather than rubbing.
  • I don’t use a loofah or washcloths.
  • I moisturize with a cream within five minutes of showering. (A dermatologist told me that creams and ointments are better than lighter, lotion-based moisturizers at preventing evaporation during winter months.)
  • Do I rinse off the soap gently and thoroughly? To verify. (Note that the AAD uses the word “gently” four times on this list of tips.)

But then there’s this advice: “Use lukewarm – NOT hot – water every time.” The capital “no” and the word “all” make this advice unequivocal.

I had to admit that doing everything right but ignoring that last tip is NOT enough.

Hot showers are my little rebellion

Sometimes I don’t like to follow instructions, thinking I’m going to put together that new piece of furniture just fine without looking at the instructions or cooking a dish without checking the recipe.

When it comes to my psoriasis care, however, I generally strive to follow my doctor’s orders and skin care advice from other trusted sources.

Still, I just couldn’t give up the hot showers. A lukewarm shower on a cold day seems counterintuitive and uncomfortable on a winter night. The temptation to raise the temperature prevails over my will.

I wonder if one of the reasons I like to take hot showers is to indulge myself. I admit it’s not the most mature approach to healthy living, but I feel like managing psoriasis already comes with so much routine, discipline, and boundaries that there are there are times when I just want to do what I want to do, regardless of the consequences.

The best choice for my skin

I recently read a psychology today article that examined the implications of the average person making 35,000 decisions in one day. Obviously, a daily decision for me is the temperature of the water I use while showering. I have come to recognize that it is a choice.

So I made the difficult decision to lower the heat to a level I could just barely tolerate. Once my body adjusted to the colder water, I felt some relief on the most inflamed parts of my skin. I’m glad I consulted with my dermatologist first about my plan (always a good idea when considering changing your psoriasis treatment), and she was supportive.

After a few weeks of lukewarm showers, I felt less irritation and slept better. my wife noticed it too. Although I miss the calming effect of hot showers, the improvement in my psoriasis relaxes both my skin and my mind.

Now the prospect of a lukewarm shower isn’t as off-putting as it used to be.

Life is full of choices, and it’s not always easy to choose actions that are good for your health and psoriasis. I’m glad I made at least one decision this winter that helps me sleep better at night.

You can read more about my experiences on my website, PsoHoward.

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