I know I’ve been exposed to one of my psoriasis triggers when I begin to itch all over. I experience an extreme tingling sensation, especially on my thighs. Sometimes, this doesn’t go away until I nearly draw blood from scratching.
This itching is the caution signal that screams, “What you are about to see next may be unsettling.” Whenever this happens, I know that a psoriasis flare-up is on its way.
For the last 31 years, I’ve been through every phase of life with psoriasis.
I used to hate my psoriasis. For a long time, I felt trapped by it, like it was controlling every single move I made. I was constantly negotiating with psoriasis over what I should and should not do in life.
But I tried to deal with it the best I could. Eventually, I accepted the fact that I would have to deal with this disease for the rest of my life. Instead of remaining in denial or trying to escape, I started to embrace my disease.
When you’ve lived with a condition like psoriasis for this long, you start to learn a lot about it, even unwillingly. Throughout the years, I’ve gained insight on what makes my psoriasis appear unexpectedly.
Here are three unexpected triggers that lead to my psoriasis flare-ups.
Sweat, then tears
My workouts always make me sweat intensely. Sweating makes my skin itch, which causes me to scratch it and, in some cases, break the skin and bleed. My broken, inflamed skin leaves me in extreme pain.
I then instantly regret satisfying a temporary need to claw the itchy sensation away.
I love steaming hot showers, but my skin isn’t much of a fan. Unfortunately, hot water plays a role in my psoriasis flare-ups.
Steaming showers tend to dry out my skin, causing it to appear white and flaky. The hotter the temperature is during my showers and the longer they are, the more likely my skin will suffer the consequences.
The disheartening part is that showers mean more to me than good hygiene. Showers are one of the ways I cope with stress and depression and control my anxiety. There have been times I’ve taken three showers in one day: one to clean myself, and the other two to manage whatever was giving me anxiety at the moment.
To prevent flare-ups from hot showers and maintain healthy skin, the best course of action is to take lukewarm showers. If anxiety is causing you to take multiple showers a day, causing flare-ups, it may be better to find another method of coping with your anxiety.
Some other methods of reducing anxiety include meditation, deep breathing exercises, exercising, and journaling. Experiment with different tools to see what works best for you.
Food for thought
Years ago, I underwent an allergy test and discovered I’m allergic to several foods. Some of my allergies include gluten, rye, whole wheat, bananas, pomegranates, cranberries, and cinnamon.
Many people believe food allergies are correlated with psoriasis flares. So, after finding out about my body’s resistance to these foods, I attempted to eliminate them for around three months. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work for me.
I do feel as though my psoriasis starts to itch more after eating certain foods, but it would take more research and due diligence on my part to truly know.
There’s a great amount of debate in the psoriasis community on how diet plays a role in those who live with psoriasis. Many people within the psoriasis community swear that diary, nightshade veggies, and gluten are the culprits of their disease.
The important thing to remember is that everybody is different. While dairy may cause flares in some people, it may not for you. The best thing to do is practice cutting out some foods or food groups and find out how your body reacts.
When you live with psoriasis, you’ll constantly learn new things about yourself and your condition. You may think you know what your triggers are, but then something new will lead to a flare-up. Living with psoriasis is a learning process, and with time, you’ll be able to identify your triggers and keep your flare-ups under control.
Alisha Bridges has battled with severe psoriasis for over 20 years and is the face behind Being Me in My Own Skin, a blog that highlights her life with psoriasis. Her goals are to create empathy and compassion for those who are least understood, through transparency of self, patient advocacy, and healthcare. Her passions include dermatology, skin care, as well as sexual and mental health. You can find Alisha on Twitter and Instagram.