One or more triggers could be at fault if your psoriasis flares up. Psoriasis can be triggered by everyday factors like stress, insect bites, or chilly temperatures. You can better control your psoriasis and reduce the frequency of flare-ups by identifying your triggers and learning how to deal with them. To find yours, you’ll have to do a bit of detective work. A good place to start is by looking at this list of the typical triggers, which also provides you with clues suggesting that it could be a trigger for you.
Check out the video on types of Psoriasis and triggering factors
Psoriasis flare-ups can be caused by a variety of factors.
Do you have flare-ups when you're anxious or overwhelmed? A common trigger is stress.
To reduce the risk of flare-ups from stress:
- Even if you're feeling fine, find a strategy to control your stress and practice it. Yoga, meditation, and support groups are all popular stress relievers.
- Write down three things you're grateful for before going to bed. Do this daily.
- Take a deep breath, hold it, then slowly release when you start to feel agitated.
You'll develop a flare-up near (or in the same location as) the injury or bite if this activates your psoriasis. This may occur 10 to 14 days after the injury.
After a cut, scrape, sunburn, scratch, poison ivy outbreak, bruise, or bug bite, flare-ups occur.
To reduce the risk of flare-ups from a skin injury:
- If you hurt your skin, get immediate care.
- Calm the itch if your skin itches.
- Scratching can set off an allergic reaction, so avoid this to your best ability!
- Use insect repellent and stay indoors when bugs are most active to avoid getting bitten (At dusk and dawn, bugs are most active).
Drinking frequently or in excess
If you drink every day or consume more than two drinks each day, your psoriasis medication may have little or no effect. Even if you receive treatment that appears to be helping, you may still experience flare-ups.
To reduce the risk of flare-ups from drinking:
- Stop consuming alcohol.
- If you must continue to drink, keep your daily intake to a minimum. After one drink, women should stop. Men should have no more than two drinks per day.
- If you drink alcohol, make sure to tell your dermatologist. Some psoriasis treatments, such as methotrexate, can be dangerous if you drink.
If you smoke or spend time with people who smoke, your psoriasis flare unexpectedly.
To reduce the risk of flare-ups from smoking:
- Quit smoking. Because this can be difficult, seek assistance from your dermatologist or primary care physician.
- Before you attempt a nicotine patch, consult your dermatologist to see if it will aggravate your psoriasis.
- Avoid being in the company of smokers.
Dry, cold weather
This is likely a trigger for you if your psoriasis worsens when the humidity or temperature drops, such as in the winter or fall.
To reduce the risk of flare-ups from dry, cold weather:
- Psoriasis should be treated.
- Showers and baths should be limited to 10 minutes, and warm water should be used rather than hot.
- Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing, preferably a fragrance-free ointment or cream rather than a lotion.
- Instead of soap, use a soft, hydrating cleanser.
- When your skin feels dry, apply moisturizer throughout the day.
- When the air in your home feels dry, turn on a humidifier.
- Wear a helmet, gloves, waterproof boots, and a winter jacket outside to keep warm and protect your skin from the elements.
- Sit far enough away from a fireplace, radiator, or other heat sources so the heat does not affect your skin.
- When you come in from the cold, take off your damp clothes and shoes.
Sunshine, warm weather
If you have psoriasis, it can flare up in the summer.
To reduce the risk of flare-ups during warm weather:
- Apply moisturizer immediately after washing or getting out of a bath if you spend time in the air conditioning.
- Apply moisturizer throughout the day if your skin is still dry after being in the air conditioning.
- Wear sunscreen to avoid getting sunburned. You should apply sunscreen to skin that is not covered by clothing and is free of psoriasis. Use sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30 or higher, and water resistance to obtain the protection you need.
After strep throat, earaches, bronchitis, or another infection, psoriasis might flare up for 2 to 6 weeks. This is especially prevalent among children.
To reduce the risk of flare-ups due to infection:
- Infection should be treated. This can help to reduce or eliminate psoriasis.
- If you have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), tell your dermatologist since some psoriasis therapies can be dangerous.
Some drugs can trigger an attack. You'll flare 2 to 3 weeks after starting a drug if it's a trigger for you.
To reduce the risk of flare-ups from medication:
- DO NOT quit taking medication you believe to be a trigger until you inquire with the doctor who recommended it. If it's possible, see if you can switch medications.
- Before starting a new medication, ask the doctor administering it if it could make your psoriasis flare up. Lithium, malaria prevention meds, strong corticosteroids like prednisone (if you abruptly stop taking it instead of gradually tapering down), treatment for high blood pressure and heart problems, and various arthritis medications are all known to cause psoriasis.
Tattoos and piercings
You damage your skin when you get a tattoo or piercing. Psoriasis can flare up whenever your skin is injured.
To reduce the risk of flare-ups from tattoos and piercings:
- If you have psoriasis, stay away from tattoos and other forms of body art.
- Speak with your dermatologist before getting any sort of body art. Your dermatologist may be able to give you some advice on how to prevent flare-ups.
If you cut yourself while shaving, you may detect fresh psoriasis in the area where you cut yourself 10 to 14 days later.
To reduce your risk of flare-ups from shaving:
- When shaving, take care not to cut yourself.
- Apply moisturizer and then shaving gel before shaving to avoid cuts and nicks, according to dermatologists.
Reference: “Are Triggers Causing Your Psoriasis Flare-Ups?” Are Triggers Causing Your Psoriasis Flare-Ups?, www.aad.org, https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/triggers/flares. Accessed 9 May 2022.