How to Control Stress Psoriasis

Psoriasis affects more than 8 million Americans.  Triggers are different for every patient that is affected by psoriasis. The most common triggers are stress, injury to the skin, medications, infection, and possibly allergens, diet and weather changes. Stress can cause psoriasis to flare up for the first time or cause a re-flare in existing psoriasis cases.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is red, inflamed plaques of skin covered with a silvery scale. These plaques usually itch, burn, and/or cause discomfort and can appear anywhere on the body. Each type may become worse or flare up due to increased levels of stress.

  • Plaque psoriasis: This is the most common type. It occurs as a red, thick plaque with silvery scale, and the most common locations on the body occur on the lower back, elbows, knees, and scalp.
  • Inverse psoriasis: This is a plaque type of psoriasis that tends to affect skin creases such as those under the arm and groin. The red plaques may also be smooth and shiny.
  • Pustular psoriasis: This type appears as small pustules spread over the body.
  • Guttate psoriasis: This type causes many teardrop-sized plaques with scale that are more prominent on the body after a strep infection or in pregnancy.

Why can stress make psoriasis worse?

Stress makes psoriasis worse, and psoriasis makes stress worse. Inflammation is the body’s way to cope with stress. The immune system responds to stressors such as injury or infection by sending out certain chemicals that cause inflammation and heal a wound. In people with psoriasis, the immune system over reacts and sends too many of those chemicals. The same over-response happens with emotional stress which is why psoriasis gets worse with stress.

The best way to combat the symptoms of this skin disease is by talking with your dermatology provider to make a treatment plan.

How do you treat stress psoriasis?

Avoiding excessive stress is easier said than done. However, you can lower your overall stress levels with techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, and taking good care of your skin. Typical treatment options for psoriasis include topical treatments, phototherapy, oral medications, or biologic medications.

During this time of uncertainty, we recognize that your psoriasis may be flaring up because of stress. Fortunately, Dermatology & Skin Cancer Surgery Center is able to provide telemedicine appointments for our patients, including those with stress psoriasis. Learn how to schedule your virtual appointment with one of our providers by clicking here.