Every case of psoriasis is different and so are the reasons for flares. What triggers a psoriasis flare in one person might not cause any problems for another. Even so, there are some common triggers that can trigger a flare or cause a flare to worsen. Understanding these triggers can help you find which ones cause you the most problems.
Many people find that stress can trigger or aggravate a psoriasis flare. Learning relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing can help lower stress levels and may help to reduce your flares or reduce the intensity of your flares.
Cuts, scrapes and other injuries to your skin
Any injury to your skin, including cuts, scrapes, bug bites, sunburn and vaccinations, can trigger a psoriasis flare. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon.
Some medications may trigger psoriasis, especially those that interfere with the immune system. These medications include beta-blockers forhigh blood pressure, steroidal medications, lithium, which is used to treat bipolar disorder and medications used to treat malaria:
When you have a viral or bacterial infection, your immune system reacts to help your body fight the infection. Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, any time your immune system is activated, you are at risk of having a flare.
Cold, dry weather
During the cold winter months, there is much less humidity in the air and heating systems further dry the air, causing psoriasis flares in many people. Using a humidifier can help.
Although cold weather is usually associated with psoriasis flares, some people find any extreme temperature can cause their psoriasis to flare. Extremely high temperatures during the summer months or even very hot showers might cause your psoriasis to worsen.
Drinking alcohol can worsen symptoms of psoriasis. Interestingly, a study completed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that drinking beer increased the risk of developing psoriasis (however light beer did not seem to have any affect).
You might find some of these triggers apply to you and others do not. Keep a journal to help you learn more about what triggers or worsens your symptoms. Although it is impossible to avoid every trigger and every situation that might cause your psoriasis to flare, preparation is key, for example, always make sure you have sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat to avoid sunburn or keep a humidifier on throughout the winter months. These steps might help to reduce the frequency or intensity of your psoriasis flares.
For more information on managing psoriasis:
“Psoriasis Causes and Known Triggers,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, National Psoriasis Foundation
“Psoriasis: Who Gets and Causes,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, American Academy of Dermatology
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.