September 18, 2014
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Avoiding psoriasis triggers

Psoriasis triggers are things or situations that cause symptoms to occur or that worsen existing symptoms (called a flare-up). Sometimes, triggers can even lead to the development of psoriasis and the first symptoms. Knowing how to protect your skin effectively is important to prevent psoriasis flare-ups and worsening.

Psoriasis triggers include skin injury such as sunburn, infection, stress, cold weather, certain medications, alcohol, and smoking.

Knowing your psoriasis triggers is important in managing your psoriasis. Once you know your triggers, you can find ways to avoid the triggers or reduce your exposure to them.

Here are some tips to help you avoid psoriasis triggers:

  • Avoid sunburns. Since sunburn can trigger a psoriasis flare-up, make sure you generously apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 before going outside. Avoid scented sunscreens because these can irritate the skin.
  • Reduce the risk of skin injury such as insect bites, nicks, and cuts:
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when you're doing outdoor activities (e.g., gardening, hiking) to avoid being scraped by trees and bushes.
    • Prevent bug bites: Apply an insect repellent with a low percentage of DEET, stay indoors at dusk, and use citronella candles if you are outdoors.
    • Don't pick at insect bites or scabs.
    • If you do get an injury that breaks the skin, treat it as soon as possible.
  • See your doctor to treat infections as soon as possible.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether any medications you are taking can trigger psoriasis and, if so, whether it is possible to switch medications.
  • Find ways to cope with stress:
    • Join a support group.
    • Try relaxation techniques such as meditation.
    • Exercise.
  • Keep your skin hydrated in cold weather. Moisturize frequently and use a humidifier.
  • Quit smoking, avoid secondhand smoke, and limit your alcohol intake.
  • Nurses who work in psoriasis clinics may have very practical and effective tips about triggers and your daily life.

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