pSo Facts

Psoriasis Triggers: Plaque Attack!

What kinds of things could trigger a psoriasis flare-up?

Psoriasis tends to comes in waves, subsiding for a while until it is aggravated causing an outbreak of psoriasis patches or plaques - this is known as a flare-up. Flare-ups can be unpredictable, and triggers are not the same for everyone. Some commonly reported triggers include:

Infections

  • As there is a link between the immune system and psoriasis, infections, viruses or upper respiratory bacteria can be a trigger for flare-ups.
  • For example, in some people, the first onset can happen a few days after they developed strep throat.

“Psoriasis tends to comes in waves, subsiding for a while until it is aggravated causing an outbreak of psoriasis patches or plaques - this is known as a flare-up.”

Stress

  • Stress is commonly believed to trigger psoriasis flares, or worsen current flares.
  • Physical stress (from illness or sleeplessness for example) could be a trigger.

Injury to skin

  • If you have psoriasis, you probably already know that scratching at plaques makes it worse.
  • Any type of injury to the skin – from sunburn to scrapes or cuts, to dryness and chafing can trigger psoriasis.

Medications

  • Some medications can increase the likelihood of a flare-up (e.g., certain blood pressure medications and arthritis medication).
  • So talk with your healthcare provider about all your medications – and don’t forget any natural health products, vitamins, or supplements you take as well.

Diet

  • Many individuals have reported that changing the foods they eat has reduced inflammation and other symptoms of psoriasis.
  • Weight management is a factor, too, since obesity is linked to higher levels of systemic inflammation and because psoriasis is more common in overweight people.
  • Studies suggest that weight-loss, for people who are overweight, will help improve both psoriasis symptoms and treatment effectiveness. To determine if you are overweight, you can refer to Health Canada’s Body Mass Index (BMI) Chart.
  • More research is needed to discover how much of a link there is between diet-related inflammation and psoriasis.
  • Some people with psoriasis benefit from a gluten-free diet.

Winter weather

  • Dry, cold conditions dry out the skin and cause irritation, which is a trigger for psoriasis.
  • If you are getting less sunlight in winter, this is a factor as well since sunlight (in moderate amounts) can help with psoriasis symptoms.

Tobacco and alcohol

  • Tobacco and alcohol consumption have been linked to psoriasis flare-ups.
    • Heavy drinking can also interfere with how well your treatment works, or whether you are able to take certain medications as some have contraindications with alcohol use.
  • Tobacco and alcohol consumption are sometimes used to cope with stress and anxiety, which can be brought on, or enhanced by, a psoriatic flare-up. Don’t feed the cycle! There are many ways to decompress which can help reduce the flare-up rather than worsen it.

Again, these are just some of the more common ones. Everyone is different, so get to know your triggers so you can better manage your health.

Anything you’ve noticed that affects your psoriasis? What makes it better? Worse? I'd love to hear your story

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