If you have psoriasis — or know someone who has — you may have noticed telltale crusts on carpets, sofas, car seats, and clothing.
“The outer layers of the skin grow faster than normal,” says David Pariser, MD, professor of dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School. “With the layers peeling off, that’s what makes all the scale.”
Psoriasis scales are very similar to dandruff. Because they come from your scalp and body, they can get everywhere.
Chips can be very embarrassing. It’s part of the disease that you can’t hide.
Over the 4 decades of living with psoriasis, John Latella estimates that he’s lost more than 300 pounds in size. Chips were a big problem when he had to travel for work.
“If I went out to dinner with someone and I walked across the table and cleaned something up, I was always afraid the scales would fall off,” he says.
In hotels, he would wake up in the morning to find the bed was full of chips.
“I was embarrassed to leave it like this because I didn’t want the maid to have to clean it up.” He says using a moisturizer regularly in both summer and winter helps keep his skin soft, supple, and less flaky.
Heavy flaking is not as common as it used to be. Treatments such as biologic medications are available to control psoriasis.
“If you have so much flaking that it’s lying all over the house, you should go back to your dermatologist,” says Caroline Jacob, MD, founder and director of the Chicago Center for Plastic Surgery and Dermatology. “Biological medicines can free your skin from the inflammation, which is causing flaking in the first place. They have completely changed the whole way to treat disease, and allow people to live normal lives so that they don’t liquor every day.”
It’s important to control inflammation, she says, not only to improve your skin, but also to prevent joint and blood vessel damage.
Latila says biology worked with him, helping to reduce his size “to practically nothing.”
If you’re taking a treat but still dealing with flakes, there are some easy ways to arrange.
1. Shoot Hoover
Jacob suggests “blank every day.”
It is the easiest way to clean psoriasis scales. It’s also important, because scales can build up in carpets and attract insects.
“The dry, flaky skin that comes on eventually is food for dust mites,” she says.
The hose with a rubber tip will catch the smallest chips. Buy a handheld model for your car and for travel. And if you’re tired of pushing the vacuum cleaner, a robot can do the work for you.
2. go deeper
Psoriasis scales can get more deeply into your carpet than your vacuum cleaner can. When Latila tore the wall-to-wall carpet in his home, he was surprised by what he found.
“The scales were making their way through the fibers of the carpet,” he says. “It was just powder underneath.”
Deep clean your carpet every 6 months to catch the scales your vacuum cleaner has missed.
3. Sweep them away
Laminate or linoleum floors make cleaning chips easier. You can simply clean it with a broom or brush. A broom with softer bristles may make it easier to pick up scales, Latila says.
4. Scrape them
Latila found his own solution to the chips that covered the bed while he slept.
“I made a hard card out of plastic. In the morning, I’d scrape the scales into a pile and throw them away.” Any hard-edged surface will help you collect the chips more easily.
5. Knock them out
Scalp psoriasis can scatter all over the shoulders of your shirt, just like dandruff. A lint brush or roller is an easy way to remove flakes that fall off your clothes.
“These scales are not sticky,” Jacob says. “They won’t stick to your clothes.”
She also suggests wearing light-colored clothing to hide any flakes that fall off.
6. Make a purchase
If your arms and legs fall off a lot, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts with buttoned cuffs when you go out. Your clothes will catch the chips before they fall off.
7. Wash them
Wash your sheets and clothes often to get rid of scale buildup, Jacob suggests. Use a gentle cleanser that does not irritate your skin.
8. Filter them
Install an air filter in your home to trap psoriasis particles. This will prevent the chips from floating in the air. Or use a vacuum cleaner with a built-in filter.