A confused beer bottle scratching under it's label with a plaque breakout happening. In the back ground is a hopping bar scene.

Psoriasis And Alcohol: Does it Make You Scratch?

I’ve had psoriasis for more than a decade now and one area of my life it’s had a huge impact on is socializing. I’ve not felt able to socialize in a setting with alcohol because of my anxieties around drinking.

Alcohol triggering psoriasis symptoms

How did it all start? When I was at University, I decided to drink one night. I had a few beers and then slowly a few more. But I didn’t get drunk. That’s because my psoriasis started really itching and scratching.

My scalp was a notable area of irritation. Parts of it actually bled where I was over-scratching. It felt like I had a constriction over my head of some sort. Other areas, like my legs and arms, just felt very irritable. It definitely made the red lesions angrier and more noticeable. And it made me think: should I be drinking alcohol at all?

Alcohol and psoriasis medications

My doctor told me that I shouldn’t be drinking and that it could make my psoriasis worse. I do believe things in moderation are fine, but based on the advice I was given and my experience of scratching did stick with me. Since it happened I’ve only ever had a few drinks when I go out. I’m not that bothered anymore and don’t feel pressured to drink to ‘fit in’ or because I’m young. When you’re battling a chronic condition like psoriasis you have to prioritize your health.

Many medications and treatments also don’t go well with drinking and can cause a psoriasis flare. Methotrexate is one such treatment. But there are many others too.

Not drinking alcohol and my social life

Do I feel that not being able to drink or drinking less has caused me problems socially? Sometimes it can, particularly when you’re out and someone asks you why you’re not drinking. But as I’ve said previously, you have to think about yourself and what’s best for managing your condition. It is chronic after all.

Now I’ve got used to just telling people that I’m not drinking or only have a couple because of the medication I’m on for my psoriasis. I much prefer doing that, then having an annoying itch all over my body. It really takes a toll on you physically and emotionally, and for me, it can ruin a night out.

Tips for staying social even when you aren't drinking alcohol

So, what would be my advice for socializing where alcohol is present and you have psoriasis?

Being honest with friends

My first piece of advice would be to not worry. It sounds easy doesn’t it, but at the end of the day, if your group of friends are good friends then they wouldn’t mind whether you’re drinking tap water or vodka. It shouldn’t make a difference. If it does bother you however and you are worried about being asked questions, just be honest: you have psoriasis, you are or are not on medication, it irritates the condition, so you don’t drink. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me and it should do to anyone else!

Trying to blend in with the crowd

Secondly, consider the setting. If you’re going to a pub or a club, chances are, there are going to be plenty of people there who are not drinking too so you won’t stick out. Get a drink of Coca-cola if you’re worried – it could have alcohol in it after all!

Try different social activities

Thirdly, offer other non-alcohol suggestions. Has your friendship group considered bowling, going to the cinema, or a weekend spa break? I mean, there are seriously plenty of alternatives to a booze-fuelled party night that I could come up with and you may find them more manageable than that.

Mocktails are always a good optionFourthly, learn to relax and have fun in other ways. Drinking doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all, and while yes, having some alcoholic beverages can liven up a rather dull evening, it doesn’t always have to be the case. Why not unwind with a movie and a mocktail? Just as good and cheaper probably too!Not letting alcohol affect your relationships and activitiesNo matter how you choose to socialize, try not and let alcohol affect that. If it’s irritating your condition, it’s best to stop or seek advice from a trained professional. If psoriasis makes you unhappy, chances are if drinking is making it worse, then your psoriasis is only going to get worse too. And that isn’t going to be good for anyone!

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