Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes skin cells to renew faster than normal resulting in the build of skin plaques. Psoriasis is a genetic condition, though the first flare up and subsequent flares can be triggered by non-genetic factors such as illness, medications, emotional trauma or stress.

Once psoriasis has been triggered the first time, subsequent flare ups are forever a risk and they can come frequently or infrequently. Therefore, treating psoriasis successfully is more about managing and reducing flare ups that trying to find an ultimate cure.

There are several common habits that can make psoriasis flare ups occur more frequently and perhaps with more severity.


Here are 5 habits that could be making psoriasis worse;


#1 Bad habit - Smoking

Widespread research suggests 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 indicates that 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.


#2 Bad habit – Over styling

Scalp psoriasis in one of the most common places for psoriasis to occur and is also very uncomfortable and highly visible.

One of the reasons cited by skin experts on the rise and prevalence of scalp psoriasis is the over-use of hair styling products. Hair products that contain sticky or clay like ingredients as well as hair dyes can all cause additional bacteria to get into and stick to the scalp, which can trigger psoriasis flare ups as the bacteria causes inflammation which can then trigger a psoriasis flare.

Dyes and perfumes in hair products as well as detergents to remove grease can also cause the already sensitive scalp of psoriasis sufferers to become hyper-sensitive and inflamed which can trigger a flare up.

Regular blow drying and blow-drying products can also add to the dryness of the scalp. Psoriasis typically results in very dry raised plaques of skin that cause damage to skin barrier function and blow drying only adds to this and can cause chronic skin flaking and cracking.

Using non-chemical hair products designed specifically for scalps prone to psoriasis with anti - inflammatory properties as well as those that help repair skin barrier function can help prevent scalp psoriasis flare ups and when they do come keep them to a minimum.


#3 Bad Habit – Tight jeans

Both sweat build up and skin chaffing can trigger psoriasis flares which is why psoriasis tends to be worse in the body’s cracks and crevices.

Wearing tight clothing can do both but in particular tight jeans (which are especially abrasive to sensitive skin), heavy material or synthetic material tight trousers can trigger psoriasis in problematic areas such as behind the knees, in the groin area and between the buttock cheeks. Heavy nylon tights also cause the same problems as tight trousers.

Looser trousers or trousers in lighter and more breathable material or skirts help keep psoriasis flares to a minimum. When its cold its better to wear a pair of cotton long johns or light leggings under a pair of lighter outer trousers or cotton tights under a longer skirt than wearing a pair of tight heavy jeans or nylon tights.


#4 Bad Habit – Staying in

UV light in small doses is actually a treatment for improving psoriasis so the more psoriasis prone skin is outside in the sunlight or just the daylight the better it is for preventing psoriasis flare ups, especially in the winter months when psoriasis often gets worse due to lack of UV exposure.

It’s important during the winter months to try and expose skin as much as possible to UV. Obviously in summer when the sun is stronger, exposure should be reduced as getting sunburned is far more detrimental than the benefits of UV light for psoriasis. However regular daily exposure to UV light during the winter months, even if its cloudy, is hugely beneficial for helping reduce and prevent psoriasis flare ups.

Getting skin out in the fresh air is daunting when it’s cold weather but the benefits to psoriasis prone skin are worth putting up with the chill. Try to wear warm shorts and have arms exposed out in the daylight, even if it’s just for half an hour. Wear a warm gilet and a scarf and warm socks but try to expose arms, legs and head to UV light for at least an hour a day, even if it’s in small bursts of 15-20 minutes.


#5 Bad Habit – Irregular showering

Sweat, in particular old sweat, attracts bad skin bacteria which then gets into areas of vulnerable skin and causes inflammation and can trigger a psoriasis flare up.

So regular showering is important to skin prone to psoriasis. Skipping a shower until morning after a long day is tempting when tiredness hits and its late but showing off the sweat and bacteria build up from the day will help stave off the risk of a psoriasis flare up.

Showering does not have to involve a lot of soaps or shower gels. In fact, the less washing products used the better. Natural soap is sufficient. The key is to just gently wash off the old or dry sweat. If excessive sweating has taken place such as after exercise then showering a soon as possible afterwards if hugely beneficial.

However regular showering can lead to drier skin so it’s essential after showering to always get into the habit of applying a non-chemical and psoriasis specific moisturising cream or serum immediately after showering to make sure skin does not become dry.