How Does Stress Affect Psoriasis?

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, stress is a common trigger for psoriasis flare-ups. To make matters worse, dealing with a psoriasis flare-up can heighten your stress, creating a vicious cycle. If you’re suffering from the painful and sometimes embarrassing symptoms of psoriasis, we can help. Nathaniel Neal, MD, Rebekah Neal-Kraal, MD, Michelle Pratt, MSN, FNP-BC, and the team at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center offer several treatment options to reduce inflammation and relieve your symptoms. 

Stress and psoriasis

What comes first: the stress or the psoriasis? While plenty of people experience stress but don’t develop psoriasis, it’s a common trigger for outbreaks. When you have psoriasis, your immune system responds to a trigger as it would to an illness or infection. In this case, the result is a buildup of skin cells that turn into the red, dry, scaly, itchy, and sometimes painful patches on the surface of the skin. 

Stress can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to inflammation and a host of illnesses and health problems, including infections and cardiovascular disease. In fact, infections like strep throat are also common triggers for a psoriasis flare-up. 

Tips for keeping your stress in check

While avoiding stress altogether is impossible, developing healthy coping mechanisms and tools is the key to controlling stressful events and protecting your mental and physical health. And if you smoke and drink alcohol, you may want to abstain or practice moderation, especially during periods of high stress, as both are also known triggers for psoriasis outbreaks.  

Identifying your triggers is the first step towards managing your psoriasis. Whether it’s stress or a combination of other triggers, there are several lifestyle modifications you can make to lower your risk of a flare-up. Here are a few simple stress management tools and activities you can incorporate into your routine:

Get regular exercise

Whether you like to go to the gym for a spin class or prefer to spend time hiking, running, or even just walking outside, staying active and getting regular exercise is essential for a healthy mind and body. Just remember to keep your skin (and scalp) protected from the elements when you’re outside. 

Eat a healthy diet

A food journal can help you keep track of what you eat, and how your diet affects your stress levels and psoriasis flare-ups. Drink enough water to stay hydrated to avoid dry skin and make sure to get plenty of fruits and vegetables. 

Practice self-care

Self-care and stress relief is different for everyone. Some people enjoy and benefit from practicing meditation and yoga, while others may find that cooking and enjoying a meal with family and friends. For others, reading a novel will do the trick. Experiment (and have a little fun) to find activities and practices that help you relax and keep stress and anxiety at bay.

For more information about lifestyle modifications you can make to lower your risk of psoriasis flare-ups, contact our Los Alamitos, California, office today by calling 562-294-6533 or you can book an appointment online.

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