Tips to help avoid psoriasis triggers and flare-ups

Published on Jan 18, 2019
Authored by Pfizer Medical Team

You've already read about the underlying causes of psoriasis and some of the common triggers.

The next step is working out what triggers your psoriasis or makes it worse. Because what triggers one person's psoriasis might not trigger another's.

You might like to keep track of likely triggers in a diary, notebook or on your phone. Once you have some more clues about your triggers, you may be able to find ways to avoid them in the future so you can help prevent flare-ups.

Stress

Stress is a common psoriasis trigger – and a psoriasis flare can also cause stress. Research also suggests that stress may play a role in triggering the condition for the first time. Finding ways to reduce stress in your life and manage stress better is an important life skill for everyone, and especially when you have psoriasis.

What you can do to help

Meditation can be a helpful way to take time out, slow down your mind and relieve stress. Have a search for meditation podcasts and download some you like onto your phone, or search for meditation classes near you. Try to find time to practise meditation every day.

Exercise is important for our general health and wellbeing and increases your brain's production of feel-good chemicals. Being active also helps to reduce anxiety and improve sleep – both good things when you are living with psoriasis.  Find enjoyable ways to be active on most or all days of the week. Check with your doctor first if you haven't been active for some time.

Consider joining a support group for people with psoriasis, or you might like to talk to a counsellor or psychologist. Ask your doctor for recommendations or a referral.

Skin injuries

Skin injuries like cuts, scratches, bumps, bites, sunburn and vaccinations can cause a flare of symptoms in the place that's injured. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon.

What you can do to help

Be careful when shaving, use sunscreen to protect against sunburn and do your best to prevent insect bites. Avoid acupuncture or tattoos that could injure your skin.

If you have already injured your skin, ask your doctor what to do to prevent a flare by taking early action.

Infections

Infections affect the immune system and can therefore trigger psoriasis. Having strep throat or a virus is one of the common triggers for guttate psoriasis. You might find that your psoriasis flares after you have other types of infections too.

What you can do to help

Look after your immune system by following a healthy eating plan with lots of fresh veggies and fruit, being physically active, getting plenty of sleep and managing your stress levels.

Medicines

Certain medicines are known to trigger psoriasis.

What you can do to help

Tell your doctor about all medicines you are taking, including any that have been prescribed by other doctors and medicines that you buy over the counter without a prescription.

Your doctor can help you to work out if any medicines may be triggering your psoriasis and if there may be a different medicine you can take instead. It's important not to change or stop taking any medicine without your doctor's advice.

Alcohol

People who drink large amounts of alcohol appear to have a higher risk of psoriasis. Alcohol can also interfere with some treatments for psoriasis.

What you can do to help

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. There are many new and interesting non-alcoholic drinks available in supermarkets, bars and cafes. Start experimenting and find some non-alcoholic alternatives that you really enjoy.

Smoking

Smoking can double your risk of developing psoriasis and also makes symptoms more difficult to manage.

What you can do to help
Chat to your doctor to come up with a quit plan to help you stop smoking for good.

What else can I do to prevent flares?

As well as avoiding your triggers, it's important to follow your doctor's management plan for psoriasis. This will include using daily moisturising lotions and prescribed medicines.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

References

  • 1. National Psoriasis Foundation (US). Causes and Triggers. Accessed 14 November 2018.
  • 2. National Psoriasis Foundation (US). Stress and psoriatic disease. Accessed 15 November 2018.
  • 3. Rousset L, Halioua B (2018). Stress and psoriasis. Int J Dermatol Oct;57(10):1165-1172. Accessed 14 November 2018.
  • 4. WebMD. 10 Tips to Prevent Psoriasis Flare-Ups. Accessed 15 November 2018.
  • 5. WebMD. 12 Psoriasis Causes and Risk Factors. Accessed 15 November 2018.
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