Concerns About Psoriasis Treatment
Some people worry about how psoriasis treatment might affect their risk of developing COVID-19.
Healthcare professionals often treat moderate to severe cases of psoriasis with systemic therapies, including biologic drugs and other injected or oral medications.
Many systemic treatments affect the immune system, which has raised concerns about how they might affect a persons ability to ward off COVID-19.
Although research remains limited, results from a small 2021 survey of Americans with psoriasis suggest that systemic treatments for psoriasis do not increase the risk or severity of COVID-19. However, some people with psoriasis may still have concerns and experts must perform more research on the topic.
A 2021 global study looking at people with psoriasis who potentially had COVID-19 found that those on biologics had a lower risk of hospitalization than those on nonbiologic drugs.
In the international survey mentioned earlier, 18.5% of people with psoriasis had not taken systemic treatments as prescribed during the pandemic. Many expressed concern about how the treatments might affect their risk of developing COVID-19.
Those who had not followed their prescribed treatment plan were more likely to say their psoriasis had worsened.
In the 2021 survey of American adults with psoriasis, people who took biologics expressed more concern than others that their treatment might raise their risk of developing COVID-19.
Other Effects Of Stress
The effects of psoriasis are one of many health issues that can pop up after a bout of intense or long-term stress. Stress can affect every system in your body, including your:
- Musculoskeletal system. The tense muscles you experience during stress are your bodys way of putting its guard up against injury and pain. Somewhat counterproductively, this can trigger migraine episodes and tension headaches.
- Respiratory system.Asthma and panic attacks arent uncommon when dealing with stress, as it can constrict your airways.
- Cardiovascular system. Blood vessels actually get larger under stress. This pumps way more blood into important organs and may contribute to high blood pressure. Also, your heart works harder during stressful periods.
- Gastrointestinal system. Stress can disrupt communication between your gut and your brain, leading to digestive symptoms like bloating, nausea, and poopy problems.
- Endocrine system. This is the part of your brain that chats with your hormone-pumping system to send cortisol all around your body during stress. If cortisol runs wild for too long, it can disrupt your hormonal balance, contributing to chronic fatigue, diabetes, obesity, depression, and immune system issues.
- Reproductive system. Looking to add a bébé to the family? Too much stress can make conceiving more difficult for both the male and female reproductive systems.
How Do You Calm Down Psoriasis
The itching and inflammation of psoriasis can be relieved. Simple modifications in your daily routine can promote healing and calm down psoriasis flare-ups. These are as follows:
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Stress Management Skills Help Minimize Psoriasis Flare
Stress management techniques can help you manage psoriasis, and there are many effective methods to consider. For one, try exercise: Its a great stress reliever with innumerable other health benefits, such as weight loss, which is also known to alleviate psoriasis symptoms.
I will very often tell patients to take up an exercise or a hobby something that they will enjoy doing that will help alleviate the stress, says Petronic-Rosic. Some ideas include yoga, meditation, and Pilates.
Exercise can be a stress buster because it releases feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins, according to the Mayo Clinic. Exercise also helps you sleep better, which can help lower stress levels, the scientists at the clinic say.
Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine, the National Psoriasis Foundation advises. And walk before you run. Youre more likely to stick with a new exercise plan if you dont try to do too much too soon. Plus, increasing your exercise level in increments will help you avoid injury.
Maintenance Of Regular Follow
According to the Arthritis Foundation, close collaboration with your dermatologist, rheumatologist, or other health care provider is one of the best ways to help achieve low disease activity. These professionals can evaluate your symptoms, examine your laboratory results, and adjust your medication if needed.
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Ways To Minimize Stress With Psoriasis
Reduce stress by maximizing your treatment plan and picking up some of these helpful habits:
- Talk to others with psoriasis to get support or advice
- Pick up a hobby you enjoy thats just for you
- Meditate or practice deep breathing
- Start light exercise like yoga or walking
- Spend time with loved ones
- Get enough sleep
Your Diet May Be Affecting Your Symptoms
While there isnt a particular diet proven to help psoriasis, eating eating certain foods and avoiding others can help with inflammation and may decrease the frequency of flare-ups.
Anti-inflammatory foods include fish, plant-based foods, and healthy fats such as olive oil. Foods to avoid that increase inflammation include red meat, sugar, and processed ingredients.
Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, people with the condition are more susceptible to illnesses like the common cold or the flu. You may experience more frequent or severe flares depending on how often you get sick.
Some tips for preventing illness include:
- Avoid being around anyone whos sick, if possible.
- Practice good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing.
- If youre often on the go, travel with hand sanitizer.
- Get enough sleep during flu season.
If you do get sick, give yourself enough time to recover before going back to work and resuming daily activities. After youve been sick, it can take some time to get your psoriasis symptoms under control. You may also need to temporarily stop taking certain drugs, such as immunosuppressants.
Also, talk to your doctor about possibly taking an antiviral drug to help prevent the flu from getting worse. They may recommend a flu shot early in the season, too.
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Stress Can Be Part Of Daily Life With Psoriasis
Its impossible to avoid all stress in our lives, says Colby Evans, MD, a retired dermatologist in Austin, Texas, who had served as the chairman of the board of trustees of the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Psoriasis itself can cause stress, and that can make managing the condition more difficult.
Psoriasis is a stigmatizing disease for many people because its so visible, says Dr. Petronic-Rosic. For example, you may be anxious about exposing psoriasis plaques and choose to wear long sleeves on a hot day. Feeling self-conscious or worried about signs of disease increases stress, which can cause psoriasis to flare even more a vicious cycle.
Doctors believe that that the first step in helping patients feel less stressed about their psoriasis is providing them with treatment that works. You cant just tell a patient, Dont stress and the psoriasis will improve, says Petronic-Rosic. First, try to get the disease under control. When the skin feels and looks better, then move on to doing other things that are beneficial for well-being.
Psoriasis And Stress: Whats The Connection
Even though researchers arent totally sure what causes psoriasis, the general understanding is that it comes from issues with the immune system and genetics. And stress can screw around with your immune system too.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that triggers body-wide bouts of inflammation. That inflammation can cause plaques or scales that can be itchy or painful .
Stress isnt just in your head when it kicks in, your body immediately reacts. A 2015 review suggests that when stress happens, we humans enter fight or flight mode. Its the bodys way of prepping us for an injury or infection by releasing cells that increase inflammation the immune systems way of saying Nope, not today.
When the stress becomes chronic, hanging around for days to years, these inflammatory cells can wreak havoc on your immune system. If psoriasis is already messing around with your immune health, a flare-up of plaques and scales might be the way your body starts responding to stress.Research suggests that 31 to 88 percent of people with psoriasis have dealt with stress-triggered symptoms. And folks who have experienced a stressful event in the last year are more likely to experience psoriasis flares as a result.
This backs up the idea that stress can trigger psoriasis flares. And while stress is not likely to be the *cause* of your psoriasis , your first flare-up might happen as a reaction to stressful events in your life.
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Getting A Good Nights Sleep
Some of the physical and psychological symptoms of psoriasis can cause restless or poor sleeping patterns. The following are some suggestions that could help you get to sleep even when you are experiencing psoriasis symptoms:
- Have a relaxing bath before you go to bed and, better still, practise a relaxation technique.
- Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning. Set a bedtime when you normally get sleepy.
- Provide a proper sleeping environment: dark, quiet, and not too hot, cold or humid.
- Avoid substances that interfere with sleep coffee, tea, fizzy drinks containing caffeine.
- Avoid strenuous exercise late in the evening.
- Try not to take your worries to bed. If you have worries on your mind before or at bedtime, write out a list of things that you need to think about. Now decide a time to think about them the next day. Remember, you wont sort them out at night and you could use this time better by sleeping.
Visit A Dermatologist To Update Your Treatment Plan
If youve been diagnosed with psoriasis, you should schedule at least one annual exam to check in with your dermatologist. For patients with moderate to severe psoriasis, you should be seen at least every 6 months. The fall and early winter months may be a good time to set up your appointment. During this checkup, your dermatologist can review your current maintenance routine and plan for the most serious effects of cold weather, including if you get sick during the winter months, your psoriasis flares, or you have to hold your systemic treatment for some reason.
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You Feel Joint Pain But You Haven’t Been To The Doctor For It
Joint pain in the large joints, finger, and toes are usually signs of psoriatic disease. If you don’t treat you could obtain irreversible damage in your joints which can be prevented with the proper treatment if determined early on.
The Connection Between Psoriasis And Age
Although there is no set-in-stone cause for psoriasis, research suggests that there may be a connection between the onset of psoriasis before the age of 40 and the presence of several specific genes. They mention that psoriasis onset is reported prior to the age of 40 in around 75% of sufferers. They also mention that late onset of psoriasis may impact those who are 60 years and older. No doubt, genes play a part in those who suffer from psoriasis, as there is research to suggest that having a family member who suffers from the condition can increase your chances of also developing psoriasis. However, other factors that occur throughout a persons life may make it appear as though psoriasis is directly related to age. These can include all the environmental factors and life events a person goes through as they get older.
Environmental Factors and Life Events
As we get older, we encounter arguably more stressful situations. Our jobs, money and savings for retirement, and worrying about our family members and their wellbeing may be stressful. Having concerns playing in the back of your mind all the time can certainly have an impact on our health, and psoriasis is triggered by stress, which means we may see more frequent psoriasis flare-ups as we get older.
So, with all of this in mind, how can those suffering from psoriasis as they get older manage their symptoms and cope with flare-ups?
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Complementary And Alternative Remedies
Some people use complementary and alternative remedies, such as acupuncture, to prevent psoriasis from spreading. Other strategies, such as meditation and therapy, may help some people cope with the emotional effects and social stigma of having psoriasis.
Although there is some evidence that specific environmental factors might trigger psoriasis, those factors vary from between patients. This makes it almost impossible to prevent psoriasis developing for the first time. However, it might be possible to prevent subsequent flare-ups by keeping track of triggers.
A person with psoriasis might find that their psoriasis gets worse with stress, after sunburn, or when they eat certain foods. Avoiding these triggers can lengthen the time between flare-ups, and may prevent an early flare-up from spreading.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms Can Make Psoriasis Worse
People with psoriasis also should limit behaviors that can amp up stress. Alcohol and recreational drugs, for instance, may intensify rather than relieve stress, Petronic-Rosic says. A study published online in August 2019 in Psoriasis Auckland suggests that alcohol might make psoriasis worse.
Theres a lot to be said about managing these addictive behaviors, says Petronic-Rosic. Stress-induced behaviors, such as alcoholism and smoking, aggravate psoriasis and correlate directly to the severity of the psoriasis. A study published in January 2019 in Expert Review of Clinical Immunology found that smoking can make psoriasis treatments less effective and suggested that people with psoriasis be encouraged to enroll in smoking-cessation programs.
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How To Avoid Psoriasis Triggers
The first step in avoiding triggers is to know what they are. This can be hard, especially since psoriasis affects each person differently.
One way to figure out whats affecting you is to keep a daily journal of your psoriasis symptoms and other aspects of your day, like what you ate, how you felt, and if you tried any new medications. If you start to notice any trends associated with psoriasis flares, they could be your triggers.
Once youve identified your possible triggers, you may want to talk to your provider about them before making any changes. This is especially important if you want to stop a prescription medication or change your diet. They can also help you with specific triggers for example, to help you with a plan to quit smoking.
Scratching And Picking Psoriasis Plaques
When I was 90-percent covered I could sit for minutes at a time and pick and pull at my plaques. It was like a strange addiction. Sometimes I would try to see how much skin I could pull off without tearing it .
If you have a problem with scratching be sure to moisturize with something containing menthol, take a Benadryl , keep nails cut low, or wear gloves to bed so if you scratch you won’t break the skin.
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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 its 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:
The Relationship Between Psoriasis And Mental Health Can Be A Vicious Cycle
Research has shown that psoriasis can contribute to or worsen various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and more. If you have psoriasis, you might be intimately familiar with how this worksespecially right now, given that basically all of us are feeling mental strain in unprecedented ways thanks to the new coronavirus.
While its a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation, Dr. Bhutani says that mental health conditions like anxiety or depression may kickstart the onset of psoriasis or trigger and exacerbate flare-ups. Beyond that, There are studies showing that major stressful life events, such as a death in the family, can result in the new onset of psoriasis, Joel Gelfand, M.D., MSCE , professor of dermatology and epidemiology and director of the Psoriasis and Phototherapy Treatment Center at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, tells SELF.
On the other hand is the fact that having psoriasis may contribute to you developing a mental health condition . There are studies that show patients with psoriasis are more likely to develop issues such as anxiety and depression over time, Dr. Gelfand says.
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