People have been traveling to the Dead Sea in Israel for centuries, hoping to take advantage of its therapeutic properties, which are said to improve skin conditions such as psoriasis. Doctors believe the secret to the treatment is a combination of the sunlight and the high concentration of minerals in the Dead Sea salts. But you donâ€™t have to travel that far to find relief from psoriasis.
A do-it-yourself spa experience in your own home can help ease stress and soothe itchy symptoms â€” no plane ticket required. â€œYouâ€™re not going to cure psoriasis with a home spa,â€ says Colby Evans, MD, a dermatologist in Austin, Texas, and the chairman of the board of trustees for the National Psoriasis Foundation, â€œbut it can make you feel better.â€
One of the reasons that spa treatments are beneficial to people with psoriasis is the relaxation they provide. â€œStress plays a large role in worsening people's flares,â€ Dr. Evans says.
Make the Time
Pick a time when you can relax and soak in a warm bath uninterrupted. You canâ€™t stay in the tub too long because water can remove natural skin oils and actually worsen drying, but you should use whatever time you have to decompress in peace.
Try Sea Salts
Fill your bathtub with warm water, which is better for your skin than hot water. For best results, add Dead Sea salts to the water. You can usually find them at a bath or health-food store, or online. They wonâ€™t be as effective as the Dead Sea salts you get when you go to the Dead Sea, Evans says, but if you enjoy it and it feels nice, go for it! Soak in the tub for about 10 minutes â€” 20 minutes tops. When your skin starts to prune, itâ€™s time to get out.
Make an Oatmeal Bath
If you canâ€™t find Dead Sea salts, you can soothe your dry, flaky skin with an oatmeal bath instead. Drugstores and health-food stores often sell oatmeal bath mixtures already made, but you can also make your own from ground oats, which are a little more effective than whole oats. Just place the oats in a food processor and grind them to a powder to add to your home spa bath.
Soothe Your Skin With Baby Oil
Another less-expensive option for your bath is baby oil. Added to the water, it can soothe psoriasis just as well as some of the more expensive store-bought concoctions. Be careful, though, because adding oil can make the tub slippery. Some people prefer to apply the oil directly to their skin after bathing.
Relax With Aromatherapy
You may also want to set the mood by lighting a few aromatherapy candles. Some people find that certain smells help them to relax and enjoy a home spa feeling.
â€œYou donâ€™t want to use scented products directly on your skin, because they can be irritating,â€ Evans warns. â€œBut filling the air with pleasant smells, like lavender, is not a problem.â€ Aromatherapy candles often are intended to promote different moods: relaxing, romantic, or tranquil. You may need to experiment to find the one you like best.
After your bath, pat â€” donâ€™t rub â€” your skin partially dry with a towel. Apply moisturizer within two to three minutes of getting out of the tub. Itâ€™s important that you seal the water in your skin before it can evaporate. When choosing a moisturizer, think thick. â€œThe greasier something is, the more it moisturizes,â€ Evans says. â€œBut everyone has to find a moisturizer that is acceptable to them.â€
Meditate to Relieve Stress
If you really want to reap the benefits of a spa retreat, try meditating to help you relax after your bath. Meditation focuses your attention away from the thoughts and worries of your day.
Other stress-relief techniques include yoga, tai chi, and aerobic exercise. You may even want to work out before your bath, Evans says. It could make your spa experience that much more relaxing.
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