Published on | by redblob14
Psoriasis Triggers That Make Your Skin Erupt
Dealing with psoriasis can often feel like walking through a minefield. You have a few fried snacks at a party, and boom, there’s flakes pouring out of your ears! Make another wrong move, and now its your scalp starts mass producing skin like a factory. There are some psoriasis triggers that are personal (i.e. frustrating wives), but there are also other ones, below, that seem to affect everyone.
Stress is the nuclear bomb of psoriasis triggers!
Stress is one of the biggest psoriasis triggers out there, and in fact, many people can trace the beginning of their psoriasis to a particularly nerve-racking period in their life. I know I can; my skin started going off on tantrums when I was in 10th grade, stressing out about all of “LIFE’S BIGGEST PROBLEMS”, and to this day, it tends to get more inflamed than usual when I am stressing over work, deadline or other worries.
The reason is simple, when you’re stressed, your body reacts in ways that increase inflammation. Studies have been done that link stress and general anxiety to psoriasis flare-ups, but this won’t probably come as a surprise to you.
The biggest challenge is that its a catch-22 situation: psoriasis makes you stressed and stressing makes psoriasis worse. So how do you deal with it? I’m not going to sprout crap like “breathe deep and count to 10 when your house is getting repossessed”, but I will say that you need to watch all the other little things that can go hand-in-hand with stress, such as slugging gallons of coffee and eating fast food, as all those things combined will make your skin weep little flakelets.
Smoking is a bad idea if you have psoriasis, because the more you light up, the worse it gets! Studies have demonstrated this time and time again, and my personal experience goes along with their results.
I smoked quite heavily during my first year of uni and my skin looked like someone had taken a grater to a baboon’s ass.
The good news is that reducing the amount you smoke, or kicking the habit if you can, will often have a very significant effect on your psoriasis. Some have even found that their psoriasis disappeared – like a wisp of smoke – when they stopped.
Studies have also been done that show smokers are more likely to develop palmoplantar psoriasis (the pus filled kind), and this is because nicotine binds with T-cells in your immune system. They essentially tell your skin cells to hurry up and flake already! And you don’t want that unless you’re a skin pervert.
Alcohol is another one of those universal psoriasis triggers that tips everyone over the edge. So if you’re wondering if you should do that line of 10 tequila shots, the answer is: you will pay, boy.
One study from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that psoriasis was really exacerbated when people drank non-light beer in particular. However, others say that most alcohol is off-limits, except for minuscule amounts of red wine and the like.
I won’t tell you to stop drinking, because that would be hypocritical. I also drink to make the pain of 21st century living go away, and my recommendation is that you should slug a pool-sized amount of water and take a couple of high strength painkillers before you pass out. And don’t mix, mixing leads to horrid flare-ups.
Skin cuts and other injuries
People with psoriasis really need to watch themselves when it comes to scrapes and bruises, because instead of healing, they can often magically transform into brand new patches of psoriasis.
This phenomenon was first described by Heinrich Koebner in 1872 after he noticed that one of his patients with psoriasis had it spread to his arm when a horse bit it. This relationship between skin injury and new psoriatic lesions has been observed to occur in up to 50% of patients.
The types of skin trauma which can cause new lesions to pop up are far and wide, including cuts, burns, scratches, tattoos, shaving, harsh chemicals and more. I even read a case in the New England Journal of Medicine about a 73 year old man that developed new psoriasis patches when he was getting acupuncture!
As a clumsy person who hurts himself on a daily basis, I can attest to this. Just last week I burned myself cooking eggs and the area is turning suspiciously red and verging on flaking.
There are some who say that certain infections can worsen psoriasis. Thrush, strep throat and yeast infections are the common ones that will make your epidermic volcano erupt flakes, but other, less known ones include boils (yes, it didn’t die out in the Middle Ages) and some upper-respiratory infections.
Personally, I used to get colds quite often in the past, and my psoriasis always went downhill whenever I did. The good news is that most infections are quite easy and quick to treat with antibiotics, and flare-ups normally calm down quickly when they’re gone. It’s not one of the universal psoriasis triggers, but it is quite common.
Cold and dry weather
Winter is the worst season in the psoriasis calendar. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about – I used to live in a country where I turned into a walking, human popsicle every time it came around. I’m talking about -60°C temperatures, when most things on Earth shrivel up and die.
The biggest problem is that cold weather is dry weather, which strips your skin of essential moisture, leaving it a ragtag collection of flakes. Those big, coin sized pieces that are so fun to pull off and yet so bad to look at. The other negative is that cold weather means that most people will have their central heating systems and radiators on full blast, further drying up your skin.
Your only weapon is nice, warm fur and plenty of moisturiser. Moisturise your body within an inch of your life, until your skin can’t take any more. And then moisturise some more!
What other psoriasis triggers would you add to the list? Add it below and I’ll make sure to include it!