Psoriasis flare-ups are never convenient, and they seem to pop at the worst times. Knowing your personal psoriasis triggers can make your condition a little more predictable, so outbreaks don’t catch you off guard. You may even be able to prevent flare-ups by avoiding conditions that aggravate psoriasis.
Here, our team at Easton Dermatology Associates in Easton, Stevensville, and Salisbury, Maryland, offer some insight into the most common psoriasis triggers and explain the effective treatments we use to help you manage your symptoms.
Psoriasis causes vs. triggers
Although the terms cause and trigger have similar meanings, the difference is important.
What causes psoriasis?
The jury is still out on the exact cause of psoriasis. Many researchers believe it’s a genetics issue. Some point to certain environmental factors that alter immune system functions.
Whatever the cause, the result is the same: Your immune system sends bogus signals that ramp up the growth rate of your skin cells. The new growth outpaces your ability to slough them off, so they stack up on the surface and form thickened, raised, scaly patches.
What triggers psoriasis?
Once you have psoriasis, you may enjoy periods of time when your skin is relatively calm. But certain conditions can set off a flare-up — we call these triggers.
Common psoriasis triggers
You may have one trigger or many. Keeping a journal can help you identify what triggers your psoriasis. Here are some things to watch for.
Stress is a double-edged sword: Stress can trigger a flare-up, and a flare-up can trigger stress. If you get caught in this frustrating cycle, you can break it by practicing relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, stress management, meditation, yoga, and exercise.
Physical stress can aggravate psoriasis, too, so when your immune system is under attack, you may notice your psoriasis gets worse. Strep throat is a common culprit, as are other systemic infections, such as colds, flu, and bronchitis. Skin infections may also set off your psoriasis symptoms.
Skin injuries like cuts, scrapes, bug bites, and sunburns can trigger psoriasis. Even needle sticks can be the source of the problem, so injections and tattoos may be on your trigger list.
These breaches in your skin cause the development of new symptoms on previously healthy skin, and they often form a straight line. This is called the Koebner phenomenon.
When you have psoriasis, your tissues become inflamed for no apparent reason, which confuses your immune system. The last thing you want to do is create more inflammation.
Alcohol consumption and smoking both create excess inflammation in your body, which may trigger your psoriasis symptoms.
Vitamin D deficiency
Studies haveshow a link between vitamin D deficiency and psoriasis. Because it plays an essential role in regulating your immune system and inflammation levels, if you don’t get enough vitamin D, it may be one of the reasons behind your psoriasis.
Certain medications may set off your psoriasis symptoms. For example, beta blockers that help to slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure, lithium used to treat some mental health conditions, and antimalarial drugs to prevent malaria are among the several medications that may trigger psoriasis as a side effect.
If you take any of these medications and suspect it may trigger your psoriasis symptoms, talk to your doctor about the possibility of changing medications.
Some people report that changes in the weather, particularly when the climate turns chilly, can trigger their psoriasis symptoms. Cold, windy days and dry indoor air can irritate your skin. Seek warmer, more humid climates when your psoriasis acts up.
At Easton Dermatology Associates, we customize your psoriasis treatment plan to meet your unique set of symptoms. Our team works with you to identify your triggers and help you manage your skin condition to keep flare-ups to a minimum.
We also offer the most effective psoriasis treatments available.
Topical treatments are simply medications you apply directly to your skin to help slow down skin cell production. They also control inflammation. We may recommend a steroidal or nonsteroidal treatment, which may also contain extra vitamin D.
Systemics are medications that work from the inside out as they flow through your entire system. Some systemic medications are taken orally, in liquid or pill form; others can be administered intravenously or by injection.
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, exposes your skin to ultraviolet B light to reduce the rate of skin cell growth.
There’s no cure for psoriasis yet, but there are ways to keep your flare-ups to a minimum. Call any of our three Maryland offices to schedule an appointment with our specialists, and find out how to live more comfortably with psoriasis.