The aging process may affect the way psoriasis shows up. Find out which physical and mental health changes may increase flare-ups — and what you can do about them.

If you’ve lived with psoriasis for many years, you’ve likely gone through multiple periods of flares and remission. You’ve also probably tried different approaches and treatments to manage your psoriasis.

As you get older, changes to your physical and mental health can affect your psoriasis. These changes, such as hormonal changes around menopause, can make you more likely to experience a flare of your symptoms.

Living with psoriasis may also increase your risk of other health conditions. If you take medications for other health conditions, some of those may increase the risk of psoriasis flares, too.

If you’re experiencing any of these age-related changes, you may wonder how you can manage your symptoms, beyond what you’ve already tried. Here are some tips to be aware of and actions you can take to help prevent flares as you age.

It’s a good idea to do regular reviews of your treatment plan. Depending on your symptoms and other health conditions, the way you manage your psoriasis may need to change.

Topical steroids can be an effective way to manage psoriasis. They are generally still considered safe for older adults but it’s important to watch for side effects. Topical steroids can thin your skin.

Skin also tends to thin naturally as we age. If you notice that your skin is looking more translucent or bruising more easily, mention it to your doctor.

It’s also smart to watch for signs of infection, including areas that are leaking pus or redness that feels hot to the touch.

Another sign to watch for is any changes in your liver function. As we age, the volume and blood flow of the liver gradually decrease. Methotrexate and acitretin, two common medications used to treat psoriasis, can affect the liver.

Your doctor may recommend more frequent bloodwork when you take certain meds to manage psoriasis. This will ensure that your liver is still functioning well. If your bloodwork starts to show liver damage, you may need to switch to another medication to manage your psoriasis.

Although liver damage is a concern for people taking methotrexate or acitretin, a 2017 study suggests that when it is taken at the same time as a combination therapy, the two medications showed greater effectiveness than when either one was used alone. There was also a reduction of side effects on the liver.

It’s also important to make sure that your doctor or pharmacist is aware of all of the medications and supplements that you take. This helps prevent drug interactions and ensure that your psoriasis medications are working the best they can.

An eating pattern that includes plenty of healthy fats can help reduce inflammation. Since psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, this may help manage your symptoms.

Living with psoriasis increases your risk of heart disease, another inflammatory condition. Eating more healthy fats can help protect your heart as you get older.

Sources of healthy fats include:

  • fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and trout
  • olives and olive oils
  • avocados
  • nuts and seeds

Research shows that a specific type of healthy fat, omega-3, helps to lower inflammatory proteins that worsen the symptoms of psoriasis.

If you don’t eat fish, you can consider taking an omega-3 supplement to meet your needs.

Being active is important for anyone. When you live with psoriasis, exercise has extra benefits. Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, and research has shown that exercise can help to reduce inflammation in the body. This may help with psoriasis symptoms.

There is also an increased risk of developing other inflammatory conditions when you live with psoriasis, 2023 research suggests. This includes metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors for heart disease. Exercise can help prevent or manage those risk factors.

Do your best to include a variety of activities in your routine, including:

  • stretching
  • balance exercises
  • aerobic activity
  • strength training

People with psoriasis tend to be less active than those who do not have psoriasis, according to the researchers. If you need help in getting started, consider working with a physical therapist, if you have access to one.

Some medications used for other health conditions are associated with flares in psoriasis symptoms.

Medications that may cause psoriasis to flare include:

  • interferons, used for cancer treatments
  • antimalarials, used to prevent or treat malaria
  • imiquimod, used for actinic keratosis, some basal cell carcinoma, or wart treatment
  • terbinafine, used to treat fungal infections of the skin or nails

Beta-blockers are another type of medication known to flare psoriasis symptoms. They are used to treat high blood pressure, and many older adults take them. In the United States, 74.5% of people over age 60 receive a diagnosis of hypertension.

Before you start any medication, make sure your doctor knows that you have psoriasis.

The changes in hormone levels that happen with menopause can increase the chances of a flare. Flares are more likely to occur because of the reduction in estrogen levels that occur around menopause.

Estrogen appears to lower the number of inflammatory proteins in the body. This helps prevent psoriasis symptoms. When estrogen drops, levels of inflammatory proteins can rise. As a result, many people notice their symptoms are more likely to flare as they go through menopause.

People who take hormone therapy to manage menopause symptoms tend to experience fewer psoriasis flare. Experts don’t have enough research to suggest that everyone with psoriasis should take hormone replacement therapy, though.

If you are experiencing perimenopause or menopause and noticing that your psoriasis is more active, it’s worth discussing with your doctor.

Living with psoriasis can affect your quality of life. Stress and loneliness are higher in people with psoriasis. Your risk of loneliness also increases with age. About a quarter of people age 65 and over are isolated.

Stress is a known risk factor for psoriasis flares. The stress of isolation can worsen health outlook, not only for psoriasis but other health conditions, too.

Having a solid social network is a powerful way to manage stress.

Here are some ideas:

  • Join a club to meet people who enjoy some of the same things that you do.
  • Volunteer for an organization that has meaning for you.
  • Ask about any groups or book clubs at your local library.
  • Take a class through a local continuing education program to learn something new.
  • Host a drop-in tea and social event in your apartment building or a local park.
  • Look into support groups for people living with psoriasis, either in person or online.

As you get older, there are many changes that can occur in both your physical and mental health. When you live with psoriasis, change in other parts of your health can also affect your psoriasis.

Some medications can increase the risk of flares. There’s also the potential that hormone changes due to menopause will increase psoriasis symptoms.

Most medications are safe for older adults, but the side effects may need to be more closely monitored.

As part of taking care of yourself, do your best to stay connected with others and with your healthcare team.