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Psoriasis: Treatment and Tips During the Holidays

The holidays bring joy, but also cold weather and stress.

Alcohol May Worsen Psoriasis

“Alcohol binges have been associated with a worsening of psoriasis,” Lebwohl tells WebMD. Additionally, alcohol may alter the effectiveness of certain medications used to treat psoriasis, so be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before you drink.

Cigarettes Trigger Psoriasis

If you tend to smoke when you drink alcohol, it’s important to recognize that cigarettes are a known psoriasis trigger. Studies have found that people who smoke tend to have more severe psoriasis than non-smokers, with people who smoke heavily faring worse than light smokers.

What About Foods and Psoriasis?

“Some people even say certain foods cause flares, though this hasn’t been proven scientifically,” says Melissa Magliocco, the acting chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “But, by avoiding these foods, some patients say their symptoms improve a little bit.”

If you notice that certain foods or overeating tend to worsen your psoriasis symptom, ask your doctor about modifying your diet to see whether your skin condition improves.

(Keep in mind, psoriasis experts agree that it’s important to follow a healthy lifestyle year-round, including during the holiday season. Eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise will help keep your body in top shape and may make psoriasis treatments more effective.)

Taking care of yourself during the holiday season may also bolster your immune system, making it less likely you’ll catch a cold or the flu. Since psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, anything that dampens your immune system, such as a virus, can cause your skin condition to worsen as well.

Psoriasis Treatment Tips for Wintry Weather

When the weather outside is frightful, your psoriasis symptoms may worsen.

“Weather changes can be psoriasis triggers for some people, especially changes from warm to cold weather,” Magliocco tells WebMD.

The cold, hard truth is that dry air and limited UV rays from the sun are psoriasis triggers for many people with the condition. Psoriasis experts say that ultraviolet light rays suppress skin cells that multiply too rapidly in patients with psoriasis.

  • If you’re stuck in a wintry locale where your skin won’t see the sun for weeks or months on end, ask your doctor whether phototherapy might be right for you. This psoriasis treatment uses medically supervised exposure to UV light to treat psoriasis, either alone or in conjunction with certain medications. 
  • It’s also especially important for you to be diligent about moisturizing your skin during the winter months. Try using a gentle moisturizer daily after you shower to seal hydration into your skin. 
  • If you have certain areas where your psoriasis plaques are particularly troublesome, ask your doctor about occlusion. This technique consists of applying moisturizer to your skin, covering it with plastic wrap and leaving it on overnight. The plastic will intensify the effect of the moisturizing and in the morning you can gently exfoliate the area with a towel.
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