We take a look at the most common psoriasis triggers, what causes psoriasis flare ups & what makes psoriasis worse
Psoriasis is an auto immune condition, which means that the immune system attacks normal tissues. In the case of psoriasis this results in the speeded up production of skin cells that results in areas of scaly, red dry raised ‘disks’ of skin. It’s also a genetic condition passed on through genes.
Psoriasis often skips a generation and passes from grandparent to grandchild, although sometimes is also passes from parent to child. It may remain as a dormant underlying condition for many years but can be triggered at any age, usually due to some kind of emotional or physical trauma or illness. Once psoriasis appears, it usually stays for many years if not a lifetime, re-emerging in cycles of severity.
Some people manage to get it under control so it hardly effects their skin while others continue to experience flare ups, sometimes with long periods of time between them while others can experience flare ups almost continuously. Once psoriasis appears, there is no-one stop cure to getting rid of it. Successful treatments revolve around medications, products and lifestyle changes that help manage flare ups, help with longer periods between flare ups and dilute their severity when they do appear.
Here are 10 factors that can trigger psoriasis ;
Psoriasis trigger 1 - Cold and dry weather
Winter's cold, dry weather can make psoriasis worse as the dry cold air zaps moisture from the skin and can cause flaking and chapping which can weaken skin and trigger a psoriasis flare. It’s important to use extra moisturisation on winter skin, avoid fragranced skin care products and use products specifically designed for skin prone to psoriasis during the dry and cold winter months. Turning down central heating and using a humidifier at night can also help to prevent skin from becoming too dry.
Psoriasis trigger 2 - Stress
Stress causes the body’s immunity to lower and also causes a surge in hormonal changes. Research has found that both these factors can trigger a psoriasis flare. Many people experience their first psoriasis flare as a result of extreme emotional stress such as divorce or bereavement or economic difficulties
Psoriasis trigger 3 - Infections
Colds, flu and any bacterial or viral infections that reduce the body’s immunity can trigger a psoriasis flare. Psoriasis flares are often triggered by any form of inflammation in the body.
Research shows that people with psoriasis are more likely to have a large number of inflammatory mast cells, the kind that trigger allergic reactions like swelling and itching. So, if you are prone to allergies such as hay fever, asthma or contact dermatitis then flares of these condition may also trigger a psoriasis flare.
Psoriasis trigger 4 - Obesity
Recent studies found that obesity and high abdominal fat mass doubled the risk of psoriasis. These studies suggest that preventing weight gain, promoting maintenance of a normal body weight, and reduction of body mass may reduce incidence of psoriasis.
Psoriasis trigger 5 - Smoking
There is little doubt according to wide spread research that smoking increases the risk of psoriasis and makes flare ups worse and more frequent. Research has found that nicotine alters the immune system, which may partially explain the link between psoriasis and smoking.
Some research also suggests that ingredients in tobacco smoke may also cause a type of cell damage called oxidative damage, which may also explain why smoking makes psoriasis worse. For people who also have psoriatic arthritis, the effects of smoking can be even more pronounced.
Psoriasis trigger 6 - Medications
Some medicines used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, and mental disorders can trigger psoriasis. Common drugs like ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and lithium can cause flare-ups. So can malaria pills like Plaquenil and hydroxychloroquine, and NSAIDs. Steroid pills can help control flares in the short term, but they may make the condition worse after long-term use.
Psoriasis trigger 7 - Sun burn
Sun in small doses can actually significantly help improve psoriasis as an increase in vitamin D benefits skin prone to psoriasis. However if the skin becomes at all sun burned and damaged from sun, like any trauma to the skin, this can trigger a psoriasis flare.
Psoriasis trigger 8 - Hormones
Psoriasis can start at any age in both men and women. But it seems to peak in people between teens – 30’s and between 50 and 60 more in women. Puberty, pregnancy and menopause are linked to psoriasis flares which have lead scientists to make the link between hormones and psoriasis.
Stress also alters hormonal balances and stress is a major trigger for psoriasis flares, which leads to further evidence that hormonal changes can trigger psoriasis flares.
Psoriasis trigger 9 - Jewellery
Skin prone to psoriasis tends to be very sensitive and so cheap costume jewellery can often cause contact allergies that can trigger a psoriasis flare. Cheap metal earrings and watches are particular culprits of causing localised psoriasis flares.
Psoriasis trigger 10 - Beauty and skin care products
Chemicals, detergents, ani microbial agents and perfumes present in many normal beauty products and hair care products and cosmetics can cause irritation to skin prone to psoriasis. Once the skin is irritated and inflamed this is a danger zone for a psoriasis flare.
While it’s very important to always use extra moisturisation on skin prone to psoriasis, it is crucial to avoid fragranced skin care products and use products specifically designed for skin prone to psoriasis. Daily skin care management of skin prone to psoriasis with products that not only moisturise skin but also calm down skin cell production is crucial for managing the condition and keeping flare ups to a minimum.
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