The 4 Most Common Psoriasis Triggers

Aug 30, 2022
 The 4 Most Common Psoriasis Triggers
Red, itchy patches of skin are typical with psoriasis — and sometimes, those symptoms can suddenly get worse. Knowing these four common triggers can help you avoid them to minimize your risk of “flare-ups.”

More than 8 million Americans have psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that causes scaly, red patches of skin that can itch, burn, and ooze. While there’s no cure for psoriasis, there are things you can do to manage and minimize its symptoms, including understanding the common triggers that cause symptoms to flare up. 

At Dr. Malouf Dermatology, Peter J. Malouf, DO, and his team offers custom psoriasis treatment plans tailored to the individual needs of patients at his practices in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Cleburne, Texas. In recognition of Psoriasis Action Month, Dr. Malouf and his team offer this quick review of four of the most common triggers of psoriasis flare-ups to help you understand what makes your symptoms worse.

1. Stress

Most of us know that chronic stress — feeling anxious, worried, or just a little “overwhelmed” — contributes to many health issues, including headaches, sleep problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, and gastrointestinal problems. But did you know it can make your psoriasis worse, too?

Data show stress can exacerbate many chronic inflammatory diseases, including psoriasis. Don’t have psoriasis? Stress can also trigger the disease, especially in people predisposed to it. Good news: Stress management could help reduce flares and improve your overall health.

2. Environmental factors

Getting outdoors and enjoying some fresh air and sunshine offer abundant benefits for your health and wellness. But if you have psoriasis, some types of weather can have the opposite effect.

Some people find their symptoms are worse when the air is cold and dry, while others find the hot summer weather brings them on, especially if it’s humid or you wind up sweating a lot. Plenty of people are affected by cold and hot weather, which means if you’re one of them, you must adopt a balancing act.

In the winter, slather on plenty of moisturizers and avoid taking hot baths and showers, which can dissolve your skin’s natural protective oil barrier. In the summertime, aim to be outdoors early in the morning or late in the evening to minimize your sun exposure. Use air conditioning to alleviate humidity — but be sure it doesn’t dry your skin too much.

Fumes, air pollution, and even tiny spores during allergy season can make your symptoms worse. In the summer, you might want to dip in the pool to cool off — but be aware that chlorine can trigger psoriasis symptoms, too.

3. Illness

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning this occurrence happens when your immune system “acts up” and attacks your skin. Since illnesses also involve immune system activity, it’s no surprise that getting sick also affects your psoriasis symptoms. 

An ear infection, sinus infection, cold, or a bout with the flu can make your psoriasis “act up.” Some viruses, including strep throat, can trigger a unique type of psoriasis called guttate psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis causes tiny red spots raised on your skin, and typically occurs in kids and younger adults. Some types of medication, including beta blockers, can also cause guttate psoriasis symptoms.

4. Skin damage

General illnesses and infections can trigger psoriasis, and so can any injury to your skin. Minor cuts and scratches, burns, even a bug bite or a vaccine — all these tiny injuries can trigger the abnormal immune response that causes your psoriasis symptoms to worsen. 

This type of skin reaction is so common that there’s a name for it — the Koebner phenomenon, and it affects about a quarter of those with psoriasis. Any time your skin is injured — outside or inside — the Koebner response causes an increase in psoriasis symptoms. Worse news: People who exhibit the Keobner phenomenon are also more likely to have psoriatic arthritis in a nearby joint.

Get help for your psoriasis

Researchers are working on a cure for psoriasis, but until then, regular dermatology appointments and an individualized skin routine are the best ways to manage your symptoms and reduce flare-ups. Our team uses a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and other therapies for each treatment plan, carefully tailored and based on your symptoms and responses.

If you have psoriasis, Psoriasis Action Month is a great time to take control of your symptoms. To learn how we can customize a psoriasis treatment plan for you, call 817-205-3075 or book an appointment online with Dr. Malouf Dermatology today.