How Is Drinking Alcohol Linked To Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes a person’s body to maintain an unnecessarily high level of inflammation. This inflammation triggers the production of new skin cells at a rate that is too fast for older skin cells to be shed naturally. The new skin cells push the older skin cells up to the surface layer of the skin, where they build up in the form of plaques.

Drinking too much alcohol can negatively impact a person’s health, regardless of whether they have a chronic health condition such as psoriasis. However, for people with psoriasis, drinking alcohol can have negative effects on the course and severity of their health condition3.

What does current research suggest about the link between alcohol and plaque psoriasis?

Studies show that drinking alcohol heavily can trigger the onset of psoriasis symptoms, especially if you have a family history of psoriasis that makes you more likely to develop the condition1. Alcohol use can also cause psoriasis symptoms to be more severe, and it can make you more likely to have psoriasis symptoms that do not respond very well to treatments2. Studies have also shown that drinking alcohol tends to affect psoriasis symptoms in a stronger way for men with the condition than it does for women3.

People with psoriasis (especially men) tend to drink more alcohol than people who do not have the condition. Heavy drinking may be more likely to induce the inflammatory pathways related to psoriasis symptoms. This may be because living with psoriasis can be very stressful and impact a person’s emotional well-being, and drinking alcohol is often seen as a way to relieve stress. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol can contribute to making a person psoriasis symptoms worse. Statistics show that some people who psoriasis who are heavy drinkers are also more likely to die at an earlier age.

Researchers are still working to understand exactly how drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can trigger the onset of psoriasis or make a person psoriasis symptoms worse. One study of more than 80,000 women reported that women who drink more than 2.3 alcoholic drinks per week were more likely to develop psoriasis. Men who drink more than 7 drinks per day also had a higher chance of developing psoriasis and a higher chance of having more psoriasis symptoms3. Young and middle-aged men with psoriasis in another study reported drinking about twice as much alcohol per week as men the same age who did not have psoriasis. Another study found that 20% of people with psoriasis were considered to have a problem with alcohol.

Research has also demonstrated that drinking alcohol heavily can make treatments less effective in controlling psoriasis symptoms. However, if a person stops drinking alcohol, then psoriasis symptoms will usually improve3.

What are some tips about alcohol consumption and psoriasis?

If you have psoriasis (or a family history of psoriasis) and you choose to drink alcohol, it is important to drink in moderation. If you tend to drink alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of living with psoriasis, you may wish to consider trying to find other ways to manage stress. Relaxation techniques, counselling or therapy, getting enough sleep, and maintaining good overall health are all ways to reduce your stress and anxiety.

Certain types of medications for psoriasis, such as methotrexate, can have serious side effects if they are combined with drinking alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to drink in moderation with your specific types of psoriasis treatments2.

Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last reviewed: July 2016.
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