What Can Make A Psoriasis Flare Worse?
Last updated: April 2021
Nobody wants their psoriasis to get worse. It’s enough just having the plaques over your body in the first place. But, if you’re not careful, those few plaques may turn into more plaques and those plaques may then turn into even more plaques!
Being aware of a few things can help in terms of stopping a flare or causing a current flare to not get worse. So, what makes psoriasis worse and what can we do to avoid triggering a flare? Well, there are a few things.
Picking or scratching plaques
Ugh, that itch sensation. We all do it. The desire of your body for you to scratch, pick and itch those plaques. But, don’t do it! Just don’t. Resist any way you can.
A great tip to reduce the urge to scratch a plaque is to make sure you are moisturizing several times a day. Yes, I know it’s not convenient or helpful but this will reduce the urges you have to pick at a plaque.
Another reason you should stop picking or scratching plaques is that you could trigger what’s known as the Koebner Phenomenon. This is where the skin that’s usually healthy becomes inflamed after trauma or injury. It’s particularly pertinent if the psoriasis lesion has formed in an unusual part of the body, such as around the eyes.1,2,3
Abruptly stopping or discontinuing treatment
Some treatments are known for worsening psoriasis if they are abruptly stopped or discontinued without proper recourse. Topical treatments as well as phototherapy can trigger what’s known as a ‘rebound’ effect where psoriasis comes back and can come back worse than before.4
It’s important therefore to stop treatment on a calendar with your dermatologist or physician.
Try not to just stop your treatment. If you feel it’s not working properly or only partially clearing your symptoms, it’s worth discussing this with your medical team before just discontinuing whatever it is you are on.
Infections or illness
Strep-throat is well-known for causing a flare of guttate psoriasis in some patients.5 I am pretty sure my plaque psoriasis has got worse after having strep throat - it’s worth keeping this in mind. Other illnesses as well can cause symptoms to flare or worsen.
It’s important to consult your medical team about any infections or illnesses. Sometimes what can happen, as this has happened to me lots of times, is an infection or illness will clear with treatment, only to be replaced by psoriasis afterward.
If that happens to you, speak to your dermatologist as they will be able to recommend treatment that will clear both the infection and help to stop the psoriasis flare.
Being mindful can make a big difference
Those are just a few ways in which a psoriasis flare can worsen or a new flare can be triggered. Being mindful of each can help to reduce any flares. Communicating your worries about a flare to your health team can also help in finding good treatments.
Remember: don’t scratch or pick a plaque - you will almost certainly make your situation worse if you do. Don’t abruptly stop or discontinue treatment - discuss with your health team as you risk making symptoms worse. And report any infections or illnesses you have - again, they will want to make sure you are OK, particularly if you are on treatments that suppress your immune system.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and mindful lifestyle with psoriasis.
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