Psoriasis is a condition of the immune system that affects your skin. Currently, there is no known cure, but if you remain aware of the common psoriasis triggers, you have a chance to minimize the number of outbreaks that you experience.
Psoriasis happens when your immune system thinks that a normal skin cell is a pathogen and responds by sending out a call for the production of new skin cells. These build up on the skin, making an unsightly pile of cells. The most common type, plaque psoriasis, appears as scaly patches of white and red on the top layer of the skin.
While it is not known what causes different people to come down with psoriasis, it is possible to manage common psoriasis triggers so that your condition does not flare up. The first known trigger is stress. When you undergo stress, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure skyrockets, and your body starts producing chemicals like cortisol in response. It is not known which stress response leads to a psoriasis breakout, but when you do feel stress, the breakouts are more likely to occur. There are many different ways to manage stress, such as making sure that you get enough sleep each night, developing a regular fitness regimen, and meditating on a frequent basis. Making lifestyle changes to make your life less stressful is also a recommendation. Either way, the fewer stressful experiences that you have, fewer outbreaks of psoriasis you are likely to have.
Points of physical injury are also common psoriasis triggers. If someone has a surgical procedure that involves an incision, psoriasis can break out along the scar line. This manifestation of psoriasis is called the Koebner phenomenon and can also occur after sunburns, bug bites, cuts or vaccinations. As many as 50 percent of those who already have psoriasis experience this manifestation from time to time. If you have psoriasis and spend a great deal of time outdoors, particularly during the summer, you definitely want to protect your skin, both through sunscreen and protective clothing.
Infection sites are also a place where psoriasis breakouts can occur. If you think about the fact that psoriasis involves the immune system, then it makes sense that infections would create a particular vulnerability to further breakouts. If you do get an infection in a cut, be certain to treat it quickly with isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, followed by a triple antibiotic ointment. Even if you get a smaller outbreak because of the cut, the more you do to combat the infection, treating the infection aggressively helps you combat the size of that outbreak.
Internal infections, such as strep throat, also can lead to psoriasis breakouts. This is more likely in young patients than in older ones, but once you start an antibiotic regimen to treat the internal infection, you should also see an improvement in the psoriasis symptoms as well.
There are also some medications that are known to be common psoriasis triggers. Lithium, commonly used with some psychiatric conditions, also makes an outbreak of psoriasis more likely. Medicines that are designed to treat malaria also make you susceptible to active psoriasis. Quinidine and inderal, as well as other heart or high blood pressure medications, can also lead to an outbreak. Finally, taking the non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug indometacin is another one of the common psoriasis triggers.
There are some environmental factors that are also common psoriasis triggers. Smoking and heavy consumption of alcohol can set psoriasis off, perhaps because of their interactions with the immune system. Weather that is extraordinarily dry can set off changes in the skin chemistry that lead to an outbreak. Some allergies and diet choices have also been linked with outbreaks.
When you have your first psoriasis outbreak, the results can be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. The good news is that it is not contagious, so you cannot pass it on to other people. Schedule an appointment with your general practitioner to get a referral to a dermatologist to find out the best ways to manage your psoriasis. While there are many common psoriasis triggers, you can learn to manage your lifestyle so that you can minimize your own discomfort and keep your condition latent.