Studies have shown stress can worsen psoriasis. When you're stressed, your body reacts. And while stress is known to make psoriasis worse, psoriasis can make you more stressed out.
Breathe deep and count to 10. Take a relaxing soak in the tub. Call up a friend to vent. Meditate. Focus on the positive and incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine. All are ways to bust stress and perhaps help keep psoriasis flares at bay.
Are psoriasis and allergies linked? The immune system appears to play a key role in both.
Researchers have found that people with psoriasis are more likely to have a greater number of inflammatory mast cells (see left) -- the kind that trigger allergic reactions, such as swelling and itching -- than people without it. Although psoriasis may be a reaction of the immune system, it is not proven to be an allergic reaction. Studies have found no link between allergens and psoriasis.
Many lifestyle choices can affect psoriasis. Drinking alcohol has been associated with psoriasis and its severity. While more research is needed, it's believed that heavy drinking can trigger flares in some people. Doctors say avoid alcohol altogether to help prevent psoriasis flare-ups.
Another reason to put down your drink? Some psoriasis medications and drinking don't mix.
Instead, try a nonalcoholic thirst-quencher like iced tea. Or walk around the block to unwind. Getting exercise and up to 20 minutes of sunlight a day can soothe psoriasis.
Cold or Dry Weather
Winter can be especially hard on those who live with psoriasis. Cold, dry weather can worsen psoriasis, while warm, sunny climates may help alleviate it.
Keep your skin well moisturized. Use thick, creamy lotions after showers and baths and throughout the day. Look for lotions and soaps that are fragrance-free and designed for sensitive skin to help reduce irritation.
You can also use a humidifier in your home during dry months to help keep your skin moist. Keeping the skin moist can help reduce itching and tenderness.
Tattoos can look cool, but to psoriatic skin the tattooing process can be a nightmare. Repeatedly piercing the skin and injecting it with dyes is a major trauma. Trauma to the skin can cause new lesions to appear, often 10 to 14 days later.
Tattoos can also lead to infection -- another psoriasis trigger.
Treat your skin with care. Avoid tattoos and acupuncture, and talk with your doctor about shots.
Some drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, and psychiatric disorders can trigger psoriasis.
ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and lithium are common offenders that can cause psoriasis flare-ups as well as malaria drugs, such as Plaquenil and hydroxychloroquine, and NSAIDs. Oral steroids such as prednisone work to control flares but may cause a worsening of the condition after coming off long-term use.
Talk to your doctor if your medication is worsening your psoriasis.
Common infections are doubly difficult for people with psoriasis. Yeast infections, thrush, strep throat, respiratory infections, and staph infections are all known psoriasis triggers.
The good news? Once you treat the infection, your psoriasis flare may also calm down.
Cuts and Bruises
Slice your hand in the kitchen or scrape a knee and -- pow! -- new lesions may appear where you were injured. This is called Koebner's phenomenon.
Avoid skin injury and trauma when you can.
Wear gloves while working in the garden. Prevent bug bites and sunburn. And use care when trimming nails and shaving.
Research shows smoking is directly linked to the severity of your psoriasis. The more you smoke, the worse your flare-ups, with outbreaks most often appearing on the hands and feet.
Kicking the habit may reduce the number of psoriasis flares and, for some, end them.
You don't have to take on the challenge alone. Ask your doctor about ways to smooth the transition to becoming smoke-free.
Psoriasis can start at any age in both men and women. But it seems to peak in people between the ages of 20 and 30 as well as those between the ages of 50 and 60. Both puberty and menopause also seem to trigger psoriasis patches. Hormones are often thought to be the link.
Interestingly, one study found that high levels of estrogen during pregnancy seemed to improve psoriasis in some women.
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