If you have itchy or scaly patches on your skin caused by psoriasis, you may be able to reduce how often you have flare-ups by avoiding known triggers of your disease.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. Researchers believe that approximately 10 percent of all people inherit at least one gene that could lead to psoriasis, but only 2-3 percent of people actually develop the disease.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, most cases of psoriasis begin when someone with the “right” genes is exposed to known triggers that put the disease into action.
Be aware of these psoriasis triggers so you can avoid them:
In addition to all the other things in life that can put the pressure on, psoriasis itself can be a cause of stress. Pain from the condition, extra expenses for medications and doctor’s visits, as well as concerns about the appearance of your skin, can all increase your stress levels.
Practices such as meditation or yoga work well for some people to lower their overall stress.
Some medications, including lithium for bipolar disorder, beta-blockers used to treat heart conditions, and drugs to treat malaria, can all trigger psoriasis flare-ups.
Be sure any doctor prescribing medication for you knows that you have psoriasis. Also be aware that over-the-counter pain medications known as NSAIDs that are used to reduce inflammation may also trigger a flare-up.
Some infections, including strep throat, thrush or upper respiratory infections can also trigger psoriasis flare-ups. Get treated right away if you develop this kind of infection. HIV can also worsen psoriasis symptoms.
Cold and dry weather can leave your skin parched, and make psoriasis symptoms worse. In addition, dry heat used in very cold climates can exacerbate your condition.
At the other end of the weather spectrum, hot or sunny weather may reduce psoriasis symptoms, as long as you take care to protect your skin. But getting a sunburn can turn a sunny day into a flare-up.
Anything that causes trauma to your skin, such as a cut, burn or scratch can trigger a psoriasis flare-up at that location. Even the use of needles, including vaccinations, shots and tattoos, can cause flare-ups on the skin.
Drinking alcohol may cause psoriasis flare-ups, especially in men. One study from Brigham and Women's Hospital specifically noted an increase in flare-ups in people who drank non-light beer.
Smoking cigarettes can increase your risk of flare-ups.
While it isn’t always possible to avoid flare-ups of psoriasis, you can reduce your risks by being aware of what specific triggers are worst for you.
If you have questions about psoriasis or how to reduce flare-ups, talk to your health care provider.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriasis Causes and Known Triggers. Web. August 28, 2015.
WebMD. Seven Psoriasis Triggers. Web. August 28, 2015.
Healthline. 7 Psoriasis Triggers to Avoid. Leigh Reason. Web. August 28, 2015.
eMedicine Health. Psoriasis: Causes and Risk Factors. Web. August 28, 2015.
Reviewed August 28, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith