A cell pouring a bottle of alcohol into the trash.

How Giving Up Alcohol Helped My Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to overproduce skin cells (that’s where those fun patches of flaky skin come in). And while the exact reason that this happens in unclear, we can agree that some factors trigger a flare. I wondered, was alcohol one of those factors?

My journey with alcohol and psoriasis

I recently made the decision to stop drinking. This decision was a very personal and private one but the side effects were very obvious and public. Sure I don’t have any more embarrassing moments on Instagram or Facebook but it’s bigger than that. A surprising side effect: my skin cleared up! Although it seems obvious that putting something bad into my body would produce something bad on the outside of my body, I wanted to know why. I did some research.

I was drinking pretty heavily and on an almost daily basis when I experienced my first flare. The flare was brutal. I didn’t even know what psoriasis was! But I knew that I was covered in it. Head to toe bleeding, red patches covered by scales of white skin. It wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t happy. But it definitely didn’t occur to me, early on, that alcohol was linked in any way. However, I decided to cut out alcohol and change my diet anyway. I would have tried anything.

Soon after, my skin started to clear up. I would like to note that I have never used a biologic or put anything into my body. I definitely do not discredit these options, I was just fortunate enough to not need them at the time. However, I have used topical treatments such as oils, creams and UV therapy. And while I greatly attribute my clear skin to the UV therapy, I do feel like the lifestyle changes helped as well.

My “drunk cell” theory

We all know that alcohol consumption causes damage to your liver, pancreas, and other organs. But it also affects your body’s natural defenses, like the ability to help fight infections. To your body, psoriasis is an infection. An intruder. And your body’s natural defenses can’t defend your body properly under the influence of alcohol, allowing psoriasis to take over just like an infection.

I see it like this- drinking alcohol in excess gets you drunk and leaves you incapable of performing at your peak, right? Think of the cells in your body (specifically your T cells, which travel through the body to help defend against foreign substances such as viruses or bacteria) as being drunk too. Why would they be any more capable on alcohol than you are on alcohol? They wouldn’t. Sure, the link between alcohol and psoriasis is far, far bigger and more detailed than my “drunk cell” theory but I didn’t graduate with a PhD in medicine so, I’ll just leave the details to the experts.

What about all the other factors?

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you guys. Of course there are other widely accepted psoriasis triggers other than alcohol. Here are a few:

  1. Infections such as strep throat or skin infections. Strep throat is known to be a trigger for many people. This also circles back to your health. Putting down the drink is just one of the many ways you can improve your health. Changing your diet, like I mentioned doing earlier, has also been linked to helping improve psoriasis flares.
  2. Stress. Chill out! Whatever it is, it isn’t more important than your health. I can promise you that. Research alternative stress relief techniques and hobbies outside of medication. Also, take a deep breath and a few seconds for yourself. It helps, I swear.
  3. Smoking. I know from my experience with alcohol that “just put it down” is easier said than done. But if you’re serious about your health and your skin, see a doctor about alternative options to help you quit smoking. You would be surprised what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it!
  4. Certain medications. Also a time to talk to your doctor. Always tell your doctor about medications you’re taking. You really never know what could be negatively affecting your skin and your body.

The aftermath of my decision

I stopped getting my cells drunk about six months ago and it has made all the difference. Of course, I feel better and happier but, guess what? So is my skin! I can’t find a red spot or a flake anywhere from the neck down. I’m admittedly still managing some scalp psoriasis but it isn’t nearly as bad as it’s been in the past. And it really didn’t take that long to get here.

I’m not telling everyone to put down their glass of wine, run for the hills, and never look back. I think anything in moderation is perfectly fine. But, for me, ditching the drink made my skin, and me, healthy again.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The PlaquePsoriasis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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