How I Manage My Psoriasis Scarring

People with psoriasis sometimes have flare-ups that cause raised, itchy, and red patches on their face, body, arms, or legs. This can happen even when they follow their doctors’ advice to manage the condition. 

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. It causes skin cells to grow more quickly, which may cause thick or scaly patches, or plaques, to form. When these fade, some people get discoloration of the skin in the form of dark spots, white spots, or scars where the patches appeared.

Different treatments, including prescription medication and light therapy, may help to control flares and gradually improve the look of the skin.  But some people camouflage large affected areas if they don’t want the first thing that others notice to be their scars or discolorations.

“Before I got my biological treatment that cleared a huge percentage of my psoriasis, I had about 60 percent of my skin covered,” says Anna Karsten, of Salt Lake City, who blogs about psoriasis. “Plaques are easier to cover with makeup because they were bigger spots in random places, but little red dots were basically all over, [so] I’ve learned to live with some spots.”

These strategies work for real people with psoriasis.

Using Makeup as Concealer

Mike Miller of Sheridan, Wyoming, tends to get psoriasis patches at his hairline and behind his ears. He often covers them with foundation, concealer and primer.

“It wasn’t until I met my wife that I discovered the power of makeup,” Miller says. “I’ve learned all there is to know about makeup primers. They sit on your skin, rather than being absorbed, and they do a decent job at covering flaky skin.”

The right tools help Miller achieve the look that he wants.

“One thing that has absolutely changed my camouflaging game is the so-called beauty blender,” Miller says. “It does a way better job at covering flakes and patches than fingers or a brush would. Plus, it’s much gentler on the skin, so there’s less of a chance of irritating lesions.”

You can apply makeup to any body part, not just the face. Miller sometimes uses primer and foundation on his knees during the summer. Karsten uses Dermablend makeup on different body parts.

“I [heard about it] through a makeup artist who told me that’s the product that’s often been used to cover up tattoos on actors on sets,” Karsten says. “Once it dries up, it doesn’t leave marks on anything and lasts for a full day, so it’s very convenient.”

If you apply makeup to conceal scars or dark spots, being too rough when you remove it may damage your skin. 

Moisturizing the Skin

If you use makeup to cover scars or dark areas, moisturize first for a smoother surface.

For extra moisture, Miller massages coconut oil into his hairline and neck at night.

“This helps to both soften scaly patches of skin, as well as remove them,” Miller says. “In my case, they’re gone in about two to three days of scalp massaging.”

Getting Manicures

Some people with psoriasis get ridges, pitting, or scaly patches on the fingernails or toenails. Karsten doesn’t like the look of her hands when her nails are affected.

“Quite often, I do acrylic nails,” Karsten says. “As psoriasis affects nails and that part is mostly untreatable, the only way to have nice nails is … by having acrylic nails.”

Being Creative with Clothing

Many psoriasis plaques that appear on the body are easily covered by shirts and pants.

“It usually appears around my armpits and on my lower back and knees, so most of the time, clothes can hide it pretty well,” Miller says.

However, when it’s hot outside, you may not feel like wearing long sleeves and pants. Karsten has used different techniques to manage areas on her arms and legs.

“I was often wearing fishnet tights for the summer when it was too hot to wear regular tights — [they were] a distraction from the red spots,” Karsten says. “On sunny summer days, I replaced [long sleeves] with long, fingerless gloves. I think many people did think it’s a style, but for me it was just a way to avoid questions.”

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