Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition, and while effective treatments exist, there’s no cure. If you have psoriasis, you experience flares — periods during which the disease is more active, and you have higher levels of inflammation in your body and patches of scaly, red, itchy skin.
Flares are often associated with triggers, which are things or situations that cause them. For example, an injury to the skin can cause a flare for some people. For many people with psoriasis, stress is a trigger. The providers at kalon Dermatology in Brooklyn, New York, explain the link between stress and psoriasis and offer some advice on how to manage it.
Researchers aren’t completely sure how the link between psoriasis and stress works, but the fact that it does is clearly established. People with psoriasis seem to have lower levels of cortisol than people who don’t have it.
Cortisol is a hormone that your body produces when you’re under stress that helps to lower levels of inflammation. Since psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, having less cortisol could be part of the reason for inflammation spikes when you’re stressed.
For some people the appearance of psoriasis patches is stressful in and of itself. So, stress causes patches of red, itchy skin; the patches cause more stress; and they get worse. What can you do?
Getting good treatment for psoriasis is an important element in controlling your stress levels. That’s because the right treatment lowers your overall levels of inflammation, which leads to fewer flares. In turn, you’re likely to feel less stress because you’re experiencing fewer flares.
The providers at kalon Dermatology tailor your treatment to fit your needs. Fortunately, many effective treatments for psoriasis are available. You may simply need a topical cream, or you may need a systemic treatment that can affect how your immune system operates.
It’s easy to say “reduce your levels of stress,” but in the day to day that can be quite difficult to do. Everyone has obligations and busy periods in their lives that can feel very stressful. Some techniques have been shown to be quite effective, though.
Exercise is good for your physical health, and it also benefits your mental health. It can relieve feelings of stress, and it brings a dose of natural feel-good chemicals called endorphins.
Certain practices that help you focus on deep breathing, such as tai chi, yoga, or meditation, have shown effective results in lowering overall levels of stress. You may want to take classes to get started with such techniques, or there are many apps available to guide you through practices.
Support groups can be helpful as well. A sense of connection with other people dealing with similar problems can help you feel less isolated.
Regular massage therapy may help ease muscle tension, help you relax, and lower your overall levels of stress. Some therapists focus on helping people with autoimmune disorders, so you may want to look for someone with experience in treating psoriasis patients.
Psoriasis can affect people in different ways, so it’s important to talk to your provider about your particular symptoms and triggers. At kalon Dermatology, we personalize every treatment plan. Schedule an appointment today by calling or messaging us online to learn more about the stress-psoriasis connection in your life, and how you might be able to break the cycle.