Psoriasis is a condition of the skin which causes red, itchy and scaly patches to appear. When you have psoriasis, your skin cells multiply at a rate 10 times faster than normal. It is a long-term condition with no cure but there are effective treatments to keep it under control. It has been observed that certain factors trigger psoriasis flare-up episodes in those predisposed to the condition.
Here are the most common triggers for psoriasis:
Stress as a trigger for psoriasis
Those with psoriasis must keep stress — a major trigger — under control at any cost. But this can be difficult because psoriasis flare-ups can also cause stress. Some common relaxation and stress-management techniques include listening to music, meditating, exercising and journaling.
Injury to skin
When the skin is injured with wounds, cuts or scratches, it can trigger psoriasis in the affected area. This is why people with psoriasis who are around animals need to be careful of being scratched. They should avoid injuries to the skin in general.
Also, if you have psoriasis, you should avoid getting tattoos since the process of getting inked causes damage to the skin and can trigger flare-ups. If you do want to get a tattoo, talk to your doctor first. They may suggest a way to prevent or control a flare-up.
Smoking triggers psoriasis
A number of studies prove that smoking can lead to the development of psoriasis in those predisposed to the condition. Smoking can also increase the severity of the condition and make it harder to treat.
A study published in March 2012 in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that long-term smokers have almost double the risk of developing psoriasis compared with people who have never smoked.
Alcohol consumption, even in moderation, can set off a psoriasis flare-up. It can also increase the severity of your condition and reduce the effectiveness of treatments.
A higher than average alcohol consumption has been found to be common among people with psoriasis.
If you notice that your psoriasis gets worse every time you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor and figure out if it is a trigger for you. If it is, you should avoid consumption of alcohol as much as possible. Cutting down on alcohol can also reduce your likelihood of developing heart disease and cancer, so it will be a sacrifice with many rewards.
Catching certain infections, such as strep throat or tonsillitis, can trigger or worsen the symptoms of psoriasis two to three weeks later. Psoriasis may also be triggered or worsened by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
If you have psoriasis, you should actively avoid catching any type of infection, particularly skin infections. Using protection is one way to avoid catching STIs. Regular testing can help detect an STI in its early stage before it does too much damage to your skin and health. You can also use anti-bacterial soap to avoid catching skin infections.
Dry and cold weather
Dry and cold weather can absorb moisture from your skin, making it dry. Dry skin increases the likelihood of having a psoriasis flare-up. One way to counter this effect is by regularly applying moisturizer.
The fact that dry and cold weather can be a trigger for psoriasis should be considered by those with the condition while they are making decisions regarding moving to a new city or town.
Excess sun exposure
Exposure to sunlight in brief durations through the day can help reduce inflammation and scaling that comes with psoriasis. But intense exposure for long periods of time can damage your skin. This will have the opposite effect and trigger or worsen the symptoms of psoriasis.
If you have psoriasis, gradually increase your exposure to the sun, to allow your skin to adapt without getting burnt.
Certain food substances such as red meat, dairy, gluten, processed foods and nightshade plants (like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant) can trigger psoriasis flare-ups in some people.
But it is important to remember that what may be a trigger for one person with psoriasis may not be so for another person. Take note of what foods you consumed before psoriasis flare-ups and talk to your doctor to identify what foods are acting as triggers.
Foods that you should consume when you have psoriasis include fruits and vegetables, fatty vegetables and healthy oils like olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil and safflower oil. These are anti-inflammatory in nature and will reduce the severity and frequency of psoriasis breakouts.
Psoriasis can be a very painful condition for which no cause and no cure has yet been found. But certain factors have been found to trigger or worsen psoriasis symptoms, and by keeping these factors in check in your life, you can keep your psoriasis under control.