Are you or a loved one suffering from psoriasis? This autoimmune disease affects 1-3% of Americans and is characterized by red, scaly and itchy patches of skin. Symptoms tend to go through different cycles that vary in degree of severity. While there is no cure, there are fortunately ways to manage symptoms – such as identifying psoriasis triggers and avoiding them! In this post, we’ll identify the most common psoriasis triggers to help you on your route to healing.
As mentioned, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects your skin cells. Due to an overactive immune system, skin cells reproduce every 3-4 days. This increased production of skin cells is what causes the red, flaky patches with silver scales to form in a person with psoriasis.
While the most common location for these patches to form are on the scalp, elbows, lower back, and knees, they can be found anywhere on the body.
While symptoms may vary from person to person, these are some of the most common symptoms of psoriasis to watch out for:
- Red patches
- Thick, silvery scales
- Dry or cracked Skin
- Itching or burning sensation
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
Please note that psoriasis is not contagious.
What Causes Psoriasis?
Researchers are actually not sure what causes this chronic condition. However, they know that it is linked to the immune system and genetics. That being said, it’s possible you may develop psoriasis despite having no family history of the disease.
Common Psoriasis Triggers
To avoid worsening your symptoms, it’s a good idea to avoid psoriasis triggers as much as possible. Bear in mind that triggers also vary from person to person. Here are the most common psoriasis triggers:
Alcohol: To avoid triggering your psoriasis, we recommend drinking alcohol sparingly. This is because alcohol disrupts the various pathways of the immune system, making it a trigger for autoimmune flare-ups.
Food: There’s no denying that the food you consume has an effect on the well-being of your body. The connection between diet and psoriasis is therefore important to take into consideration.
As psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, it stands to reason that you should avoid foods that trigger inflammation. These include, but are not limited to, red meat, dairy, gluten, processed foods, and refined sugars. Alternatively, you should aim to eat more anti-inflammatory foods such as colourful fruits and vegetables, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and shrimp, and heart-healthy oils like olive-oil, flaxseed oil, and coconut oil. If you’re not sure which foods are triggering your psoriasis, you might want to consider trying an elimination diet.
Stress: Stress is a trigger for many skin conditions and psoriasis is no exception. To avoid stress-induced psoriasis, it’s important to reduce your stress as much as possible. Some great ways to do this include taking up yoga, journaling, taking leisurely walks, or simply taking some much-needed time to yourself – even just 15 minutes of meditation each day can do wonders for your skin!
Extreme Temperatures: The dry, cold temperatures of winter, as well as excess sun in the warmer months can negatively affect your skin. Cold winter climates, in particular, have the ability to strip moisture from the skin and can result in a nasty flare-up.
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Infection: As psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, anything that can affect your immune system can trigger your psoriasis. For this reason, you may experience a flare-up following a bout of bronchitis, tonsillitis, or a respiratory infection. Strep throat is also known to trigger psoriasis, especially in children.