Understanding Your Psoriasis Triggers

If you have been diagnosed with psoriasis, you understand all too well the frustration that accompanies the disease.  Whether your flare-ups are minor or large-scale, seasonal or largely unpredictable, dealing with these inflamed patches of skin can become a source of embarrassment and aggravation.  They come in many forms and can take on different characteristics in appearance.  However, regardless of type, it is important to note that no form of psoriasis is contagious and all cases evolve from a faulty immune system. 

While there is no way to predict or cure psoriasis, patients do have treatment options such as topical creams or prescription medications like Humira.  It is also helpful to identify triggers that may commonly result in a flare-up of psoriasis.  When these triggers are known, patients can take care to avoid them and help keep their skin calm.  Here are some of the most common:

Stress as a Psoriasis Trigger

Stress is a prevalent trigger for psoriasis flare-ups amongst patients.  Likewise, the appearance of psoriasis tends to exacerbate stress, so patients often find themselves caught in a vicious cycle.  Not only this, but science is finding strong connections between patients with psoriasis and those suffering from mental health disorders such as depression or PTSD.  In fact, patients with psoriasis have been found to have a 39 percent increase in their risk for depression and a 31 percent increase in their risk for anxiety over the general population, making mental health care key for many patients with the disease.

Koebner Phenomenon and Psoriasis Flare-ups

If getting a shot, a sunburn, or any other injury to your skin results in a psoriasis flare-up, you are likely among the 1 in 4 psoriasis patients dealing with Koebner Phenomenon.  In this condition, the skin reacts to any form of injury by producing plaques in the injured area, even if it is somewhere that has never previously been affected by psoriasis.  These plaques may show up in as little as a few days or up to years after the injury.  Some patients will experience these flares with something as small as a mosquito bite, whereas others only see them with more severe injuries.  Treatment for Koebner Phenomenon is the same as all other normal psoriasis flares.

Medications as Psoriasis Triggers

It is an unfortunate reality that some medications prescribed for other, seemingly unrelated, health conditions can actually make psoriasis worse.  These can include prescriptions taken for blood pressure, mental health, the heart, or even psoriatic arthritis.  Of course, you cannot allow other aspects of your health to suffer for the benefit of psoriasis.  If you are on any medications that seem to be making your flare-ups worse, speak with your physician about alternative medication options that may still be able to help without the negative impact on your skin.

Seasonal Psoriasis Triggers

Many psoriasis patients find that the dry air and lower levels of exposure to ultraviolet rays in the fall and winter worsens their symptoms.  Likewise, the increased prevalence of illnesses and infections such as colds and the flu amp up your immune system’s activity and may therefore worsen your psoriasis as well.  In order to combat these seasonal triggers, patients would be well-advised to receive a flu shot and to speak with their doctor about how they may safely receive light therapy if needed.

Millions of Americans suffer from psoriasis, but its many forms and triggers make it vary widely from one person to the next.  Understanding your own condition, its triggers, and the best treatment methods are key to keeping the impact of psoriasis on your skin and life to a minimum.  To learn more about your condition and all related factors, contact Dermasurgery Center and request an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists.

Chad Prather, M.D.