Psoriasis can cause stress for someone with the condition due to difficulties managing symptoms, physical discomfort, or feelings of social embarrassment. Conversely, stress can also trigger psoriasis flares. Practicing self-care to improve mental health and reduce stress can help to reduce the chance of stress triggering further flares.

Psoriasis and stress share a symbiotic relationship of sorts, where each can cause and worsen the symptoms of the other.

Psoriasis is a type of immune-mediated disease where the immune system causes inflammation throughout the body.

While many people may associate the condition with scaly patches of skin, it can also cause issues in other areas of the body.

In addition, living with psoriasis can also affect a person’s mental health. It may cause a person to feel stress relating to showing their skin, social situations, or caring for the condition.

Stress can then trigger a psoriasis flare or a worsening of symptoms. As a result, people living with psoriasis often benefit from managing both their physical and mental health.

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Psoriasis can cause stress, and stress can cause psoriasis symptoms to worsen.

A 2018 review of studies looking at the link between psoriasis and stress notes that anywhere from 31–88% of people living with psoriasis report stress as a trigger for their symptoms.

It also noted that, in addition to triggering flares, stress may also trigger the development of the condition itself in people predisposed to developing psoriasis.

How stress influences psoriasis is still not fully understood. According to an older study, one hypothesis, called the neurogenic inflammation hypothesis, states that psoriasis causes the release of neuropeptides, such as substance P (SP) and nerve growth factor (NGF).

These substances then cause local inflammation and result in the formation of psoriasis plaques. The hypothesis notes that stress releases high amounts of SP, which could then trigger the onset of the condition or flares.

When psoriasis plaques occur, it can cause stress for the person. The stress may relate to issues of embarrassment, the challenges of dealing with symptoms, discomfort, or a combination of different emotions.

The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends that all people living with psoriasis take steps to manage their stress as part of their treatment plan. They recommend a person:

  • asks for or seeks outside help from support groups or counseling
  • practices meditation
  • engages in physical activities

According to a 2019 study, there is a link between alcohol intake and an increase in anxiety and depression. Therefore, a person may consider limiting their alcohol consumption to help minimize stress.

Before starting any new exercise programs, a person should talk with a doctor about what activities will be safe for them to perform.

Psoriasis is a lifelong condition characterized by periods of flares and remission. When treating psoriasis, a doctor will often suggest a combination of medications, therapies, mental health support, and lifestyle changes to help keep the condition under control.

Medical treatments may include:

  • prescription and over-the-counter topicals
  • phototherapy, or light therapy
  • systemic medications such as biologics and other oral treatments

Doctors may also recommend lifestyle changes that help manage symptoms and triggers. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends a person take some steps to help manage their psoriasis at home:

  • working with a doctor or healthcare professional to find a suitable treatment plan
  • avoiding getting sunburn — even a mild case can cause new psoriasis or worsening symptoms
  • trying to avoid skin injuries, such as nicks and cuts, and protecting against bug bites
  • trying to avoid skin damage from scratching affected areas. To help prevent scratching, individuals can use:

In addition, a person should take measures to learn and avoid triggers. Triggers can vary from person to person but can include stress and weather changes.

By managing stress, a person may be able to help reduce psoriasis flares.

A person can consider the following general tips for managing stress, including:

  • practicing effective time management
  • using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing
  • taking regular exercise
  • finding out about and minimizing their potential triggers
  • seeking counseling or finding someone to talk with
  • eating a balanced, healthy diet
  • getting the recommended hours of sleep
  • taking time for themselves doing an activity they enjoy

Psoriasis triggers can vary from person to person. It is important for an individual to understand their triggers so that they can take steps to avoid them.

Some common triggers of psoriasis include:

  • stress
  • illness
  • skin injuries, including bug bites, cuts, scraps, and other minor injuries
  • changes in weather, such as warm and dry indoor temperatures or cold
  • eating certain foods
  • allergies
  • alcohol
  • other environmental factors

Psoriasis and stress share a link — both conditions can trigger the other.

Mental health treatment, including lifestyle changes such as physical exercise, can help prevent stress from triggering flares.

It can also help a person cope with the stress and other emotions that often accompany living with psoriasis.