A psoriasis flare-up is when your skin condition worsens. Learn what a flare-up looks like, what causes it, and what you can do to try to prevent one.

right mark

Copied to Clipboard

wrong mark

Psoriasis Flare-Ups: Symptoms, Triggers, And Prevention

07/29/20228 min read

Just when you think you finally have your psoriasis under control, it comes back with a vengeance. These psoriasis flare-ups can be frustrating since they often take you by surprise

To help you better understand when — and why — your skin condition might worsen, it's essential to understand your symptoms and what may trigger them. Once you know what to look for, you can take steps to prevent future psoriasis flare-ups.

Table Of Contents

What Is A Psoriasis Flare-Up?

Woman with a psoriasis flare-up behind her ear and on the back of her neck

A psoriasis flare-up is when your psoriasis suddenly worsens. The symptoms can vary depending on the type you have. But, generally, it will cause your skin to become red, inflamed, and covered in scaly patches.

Flare-ups can last for a few days or several weeks. However, they can also come and go sporadically, without any clear pattern. This can make them hard to predict and manage.

To help identify patterns, consider keeping a journal to crack the code on your skin. Write down when flare-ups occur and as much additional information as possible about your diet, the environment, and other factors.

Symptoms During A Flare-Up

There are several types of psoriasis, each with its own unique symptoms. However, plaque psoriasis is the most common. This condition causes your skin to form raised, red patches covered in white or silver scales.

Other types of psoriasis include guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic.

No matter what kind you have, a flare-up causes your original symptoms to worsen, and your skin might become:

  • Red and inflamed
  • Covered in scaly patches
  • Itchy
  • Sore or painful
  • Flaky
  • Bleeding
  • Covered in fluid-filled blisters

Symptoms can also occur anywhere on your body, including places where you've never had trouble before.

What Triggers A Flare-Up?

Several things are thought to make your psoriasis worse. To help you find the culprit in your life, let's look at some of the most common triggers and what might help.

Stress

Stressed-out woman sitting at a computer

The connection between your skin and your stress levels is intense. In fact, one study found that psychological stress may trigger or worsen psoriasis in over half of all people with the condition.

Stress can also lead to changes in your immune system. Since your condition is already taxing your body, adding more stress to your life can worsen your psoriasis symptoms and lead to a flare-up.

Consider adding some relaxation techniques to your routine to manage your stress levels. This can include things like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.

Taking time out for yourself each day can help keep your stress levels in check so your skin stays healthy.

Certain Medications

Some medications can make your psoriasis worse, too. This includes beta-blockers, often used to treat high blood pressure, and lithium, which doctors sometimes prescribe for bipolar disorder.

If you're taking any medication and notice a change in your skin, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider. They may be able to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication.

Weather Changes

Woman walking in the snow

For many people with psoriasis, the weather is a trigger. Wear appropriate clothing, like hats and gloves, to help protect vulnerable areas, such as your hands and scalp.

Consider adding a humidifier to your home to protect your skin in the winter. This will keep the air moist, preventing your skin from drying out too much. You should also take shorter showers and avoid using hot water, which can strip your skin of its natural oils.

In addition, use a moisturizing cleanser, such as our Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash, each time you shower. Its unique blend of ingredients locks in moisture and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.

Winter isn’t the only season when you might notice changes in your skin. In the summer, the hot weather can make you sweat more, which can make your symptoms worse.

To keep cool and protect your skin, stay out of the sun as much as possible. Wear sunscreen and loose, breathable clothing if you go out in the elements.

Infections

An infection, such as strep throat, can also trigger a psoriasis flare-up because your immune system goes into overdrive. When this happens, it can cause your psoriasis symptoms to worsen.

If you think you may have an infection, make an appointment with your doctor right away. They can prescribe antibiotics to treat the problem quickly and prevent additional issues.

Dry Skin

Man scratching dry patches of skin on his hands

Dry skin can also make existing skin conditions, including psoriasis, worse. It can lead to new symptoms, such as itching, cracking, and bleeding.

If you have psoriasis, be sure to moisturize regularly to keep your skin hydrated. Our Psoriasis Calming Cream combines moisturizing ingredients with powerful salicylic acid, which can help improve your symptoms over time.

Smoking

In addition to extreme weather and lack of hydration, smoking can worsen your symptoms and make it harder for treatments to work. Quitting this habit can be one of the best things for your skin.

Certain Foods

For some people, certain foods can trigger a psoriasis flare-up. The most common triggers are alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, and gluten. While pinpointing your specific triggers can take trial and error, there are a few general tips you can follow to prevent diet-related flare-ups.

First, eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. These nutrients give your body what it needs to heal your skin.

Second, avoid processed foods and sugary drinks. These foods often fill you up without providing any nutritional value and can also trigger inflammation.

Third, if you think gluten may trigger your psoriasis, talk to your doctor about going on a gluten-free diet. They can also run tests to determine if it’s just a food sensitivity or something more serious, like celiac.

Finally, limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol can worsen your psoriasis symptoms, so the more you drink, the more trouble you may have with your skin. If you do drink, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

If you think your diet may play a role in your psoriasis flare-up, we recommend making an appointment with a dietitian. They can help you figure out which foods may trigger your symptoms and create a plan to avoid them in the future.

Psoriasis Flare-Up Prevention

Person applying cream to a psoriasis flare-up on their hand

If you have psoriasis, you want to do everything possible to prevent a flare-up. While there's no guaranteed way to do this, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of your symptoms coming back.

Avoid Triggers

Once you've identified your triggers, avoid them whenever you can. For example, keep your stress levels low, avoid extreme temperature changes, and stay out of the sun.

Moisturize Regularly

As we mentioned earlier, it's important to keep your skin hydrated. Moisturize regularly, drink plenty of water, and use a humidifier in your home to prevent your body from drying out.

In addition, check the ingredients in your skincare products. Many contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your skin or remove moisture.

At Bodewell, we offer a specific line of psoriasis products. They’re formulated moisturizers to help your skin heal itself. The proprietary blend of 22 botanical ingredients helps promote healthier and clearer-looking skin over time.

Make Lifestyle Changes

While making changes, you’ll also want to ensure your lifestyle choices work for your skin. Quit smoking, eat a healthy diet with plenty of omega-3s, and exercise regularly. These things can help improve your skin's overall condition and reduce the chances of experiencing a flare-up.

Making these changes can be difficult, but they're essential for keeping your psoriasis under control. If it feels overwhelming, try changing only one thing at a time. This will make it less stressful and easier to pinpoint exactly what’s making your skin irritated.

If you're having trouble managing your psoriasis, talk to your primary care physician or a dermatologist to find the best treatment for your individual needs and get support along the way.

For example, you may need topical steroids or a stronger medication to provide relief instead of natural remedies or lifestyle changes. Without a doctor's help, you won't have access to prescription-strength treatment options.

Taking Control Of Your Psoriasis

A person with a psoriasis flare-up on their legs and knee

A psoriasis flare-up can be incredibly frustrating to deal with. The good news is that you can reduce the risk of a flare-up by understanding what triggers your condition and taking steps to avoid those things.

Our line of psoriasis products at Bodewell can also help. Our Psoriasis Soothing Spray or Psoriasis Calming Cream are both great options for managing your condition.

Take control of your skin and fight psoriasis flare-ups head-on. With the right treatment, you can reduce your symptoms and live life with better skin days!

Sources

National Library of Medicine

Shop Bodewell