Triggers such as stress, skin injury, and cold weather can cause or worsen psoriasis flares. Avoiding triggers, keeping skin moisturized, and working with a doctor can help a person manage and treat worsening psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the skin, causing plaques that may be raised or itchy. The exact appearance of psoriasis lesions may depend on a person’s skin color and the type of psoriasis they have.
People with psoriasis may also experience worsening symptoms after a triggering event such as stress or illness.
This article explains why psoriasis flares may occur, how to manage worsening psoriasis, and when to contact a doctor.
Psoriasis is a chronic, lifelong condition. Some people with psoriasis may go into remission and have no symptoms. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), periods of remission typically last less than 1 year.
When someone comes into contact with a trigger, they may develop a psoriasis flare that begins as a small patch and eventually spreads. Psoriasis triggers can vary from person to person. However, common triggers include the following.
Stress and anxiety
A 2018 review of studies investigating the link between psoriasis and stress indicates that
According to some older studies cited in a 2019 research review,
Physical traumas that may cause a psoriasis flare include:
- cuts and scrapes
- bug bites
- vaccinations or injections
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), certain illnesses, including the following, can lead to a psoriasis flare:
Infections resulting from Streptococcus bacteria, such as strep throat, are
The NPF suggests this occurs because warm weather provides natural sunlight and more humidity, whereas people are more likely to experience illness and drier indoor air during winter.
A person should speak with their doctor if they notice their psoriasis worsening after they start a new medication.
Smoking and alcohol
Other possible triggers
According to a
- red meat
- simple sugars
- saturated fatty acids
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, doctors
- Topical medications: These are typically the first-line treatment for mild to moderate psoriasis. Topical options include corticosteroids, coal tar, retinoids, vitamin D analog, Zoryve, Vtama, and dithranol.
- Phototherapy: This treatment is also called ultraviolet light therapy. It uses ultraviolet light to target psoriasis lesions and typically works best to treat guttate psoriasis.
- Systemic medications: Systemic drugs such as methotrexate and cyclosporine may help treat extensive psoriasis.
- Biologics: Doctors may prescribe biologic agents if people’s symptoms do not respond to other treatments. Biologics target cells in the immune system that cause psoriatic inflammation.
According to the AAD, the following lifestyle strategies may also help a person manage worsening psoriasis symptoms:
- reducing alcohol consumption
- quitting smoking, if applicable
- making efforts to maintain a healthy weight
- eating a nutritious, balanced diet
- exercising regularly
- finding healthy ways to manage or reduce stress
- scheduling and attending regular dermatology appointments
Keeping skin moisturized and avoiding psoriasis triggers, when possible, may also help people manage their psoriasis flares.
- a person’s symptoms are worsening
- treatments are not relieving symptoms
- the person wishes to try an alternative treatment
Here are some common questions about psoriasis and how to manage flare-ups.
Does psoriasis get worse with age?
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that
How long do psoriasis flares last?
Why does psoriasis spread so fast?
Psoriasis may spread in response to certain triggers, which can vary for each person with the condition. Exposure to triggers such as stress, alcohol, and cold, dry weather may worsen psoriasis.
Psoriasis flares can also cause stress, contributing to a potentially ongoing loop of worsening symptoms.
There is no cure for psoriasis, and every person with this condition may experience flares. However, avoiding psoriasis triggers and working with a healthcare professional can help a person manage their symptoms.
If a person experiences a flare-up or has worsening symptoms, they can talk with a specialist, such as a dermatologist, who can create a personalized treatment plan.
Sticking to a treatment plan and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help a person reduce the severity of their symptoms and potentially enter remission.