Two methods for taking care of psoriasis-prone skin.

“Psoriasis is a common, chronic and relapsing skin disease typically characterised by red scaly lesions on the elbows, knees, scalp and skin folds,” explains Dr. Davindra Singh, MD, FRCSC, head dermatologist at Avantderm in Toronto’s Distillery District. In some cases the nails and joints are also affected. The causes of psoriasis are complex: environmental factors play a role, including smoking, stress, alcohol and infection. However in many cases it is a result of an “abnormality or malfunction in the immune system where T-cells, a type of white blood cell, attack and overgrow an area of the skin,” says Karen Bayliss, director of Laser and Fraxel at Skin Vitality Medical Clinics.

At Home: Taking regular baths, applying a mild moisturizer and avoiding stress help to alleviate milder cases. Wear cotton, which is natural and more soothing on the skin. Depending on the severity and the level of discomfort experienced there are several treatment options to choose from. “Topical treatments, light therapy or oral medications help to normalize the immune system,” says Dr. Singh.

Try: Ucerin Calming Crème, $11.76, at Shoppers Drug Mart

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In office: “For psoriasis the best light therapy is UVB light therapy, which penetrates the skin and slows down the growth of affected cells. Several treatments are required, and the areas may worsen before improvement is seen.
Cost: Covered by health care.