A psoriasis flare can be a challenging experience. You have to manage psoriasis throughout your life, and at times the condition may erupt and cause new skin lesions to appear on your skin along with other pain and discomfort. Psoriasis can flare even if you’re doing your best to manage the condition with the help of your doctor.
Psoriasis reacts differently for each person. You could find that particular behaviors or situations cause your psoriasis to flare, even for something that’s not well recognized as a trigger.
Another reason you may have a flare is because your current treatment plan needs to be reevaluated. Psoriasis is a chronic condition that requires regular care. Your treatment needs may change with time.
Psoriasis and your body
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes your skin cells to grow too quickly. This results in lesions on your skin. Moderate and severe psoriasis requires treatment of not only your skin, but also your immune system.
Researchers are trying to determine the genes that cause psoriasis in hopes of getting insight into the immune system, how it causes psoriasis, and how to treat it more effectively. Until these genes are better understood, your doctor will recommend current courses of action that will minimize your psoriasis symptoms. These treatments can include:
- Topical creams and medications
- Oral medications and injectable biologic immunomodulators
- Light therapy
Psoriasis triggers and management
It’s likely that a trigger kicked your immune system into overdrive and caused your psoriasis to flare. The immune system is sensitive to certain triggers, and these triggers are unique to each person. You may or may not know what triggers caused your psoriasis based on your history with the condition. Determining the cause of your flare-up will help you manage your psoriasis better.
Consider the following triggers when evaluating your most recent psoriasis flare-up:
Stress may be the trigger for your psoriasis flare-up. Have you been working long hours or juggling a family illness? What about overbooking your calendar without making time for rest and exercise? Experiencing stress can result in inflammation and may put your immune system into gear, causing an overproduction of skin cells.
Learning how to manage stress is key to living with psoriasis. You should try to eliminate the stressors in your life as well as practice activities that can help you relax. Yoga, meditation, exercise, and adequate sleep may help your stress levels. If you aren’t able to de-stress on your own, talk to a health professional. You should make sure to take care of your mental health, as psoriasis can lead to anxiety and depression.
You may become sick with an infection that leads to a psoriasis flare. Your immune system may overrespond to certain infections or illnesses and trigger your psoriasis. One of the most common infections that impacts psoriasis is strep throat. You may have strep throat with no obvious signs. If you experience a flare that doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything else, ask your doctor about testing you for strep throat.
Other infections may impact your psoriasis as well. You should watch your symptoms carefully if you have an infection and contact your doctor if you suspect an infection has triggered your psoriasis.
Check your body to determine whether a skin injury may be the source of your psoriasis flare. Skin injuries as significant as a serious sunburn or as minor as a small cut or scrape may be the source. The appearance of a new skin lesion as a result of a skin injury is known as the Koebner phenomenon. This may require the attention of your doctor.
Medications you take that are unrelated to your psoriasis could be a trigger. Have you started a new medication for another condition? Some medications that can lead to psoriasis flare-ups include:
- beta blockers
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
It’s essential that you provide a list of medications you take to your doctor when discussing your psoriasis. If you see a different doctor for other conditions and are prescribed a new medication, make sure to mention your psoriasis, even if it is under control.
Cold weather in the winter months may be another reason your psoriasis flares. Cold weather has a more significant impact on psoriasis than more mild or hot weather. This is because the air is drier and you are less exposed to sunlight, which can help psoriasis.
You should make an effort to combat cold weather factors. This includes using a humidifier and applying moisturizer multiple times a day, especially after showering or bathing.
The importance of a treatment plan
Treating psoriasis is key to keeping your symptoms under control. You need to see a doctor regularly to discuss treatment plans. A recent trend in psoriasis management is the concept of “treat to target.” This allows you to work with your doctor to develop treatment goals and assess outcomes of the treatment after a designated period of time. This will help you understand how your body is reacting to psoriasis flares and determine if your lifestyle and treatment plan is working.
Prevention of future flares
Living with psoriasis requires you to be in tune with your body, practice healthy habits, and treat your condition as recommended by your doctor. Notice what triggers your psoriasis and take action to avoid their negative effects. Psoriasis can be managed, but it’s up to you to stay on top of the condition.Read more in Psoriasis Resources
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