Symptoms of psoriasis, such as itchy patches of skin and thickened nails, can come and go.

However, there are common triggers that people with psoriasis may want to avoid just in case.

There’s no definitive psoriasis diet. However, people with the condition may want to consider avoiding the following:

  • nightshade plants, such as tomatoes, eggplant, and white potatoes
  • gluten, which is found in many grains and condiments
  • foods made with white flour
  • dairy products
  • shellfish
  • pork
  • red meat
  • high-sugar foods and fatty foods

According to the results of a 2017 national survey, people with psoriasis saw their symptoms improve or go away completely after they cut back on or eliminated these items.

People saw the most improvement after cutting back on or eliminating nightshade plants and gluten.

Research on alcohol and psoriasis is limited. However, existing studies suggest that alcohol acts as a trigger for many people, particularly women.

In a large study published in 2010, researchers observed an increase in psoriasis onset in women who drank non-light beer as opposed to other alcoholic beverages. The increase was associated with five beers per week.

The researchers hypothesized that starch in the beer may have contributed to the development of psoriasis.

According to a 2011 study, alcohol consumption may also trigger the production of inflammatory proteins and increase your risk of infection. Inflammation and infection can contribute to psoriasis symptoms.

Lastly, alcohol misuse affects almost one-third of people with psoriasis, according to a 2017 study. They’re also more likely to die of alcohol-related disease than people without the condition.

For this reason alone, people with psoriasis will want to be mindful of their alcohol intake.

For people with psoriasis, too much sun can spell a major outbreak. While a moderate amount of sun can relieve symptoms in some, sunburns can almost certainly cause a flare-up.

If you find a small amount of sun actually helps your symptoms, just remember to keep it to a minimum.

Learn more about the sun and psoriasis.

A cold, dry climate can also worsen symptoms of psoriasis. In this kind of bitter and cold weather, moisture is stripped from the skin. Heating units make matters worse.

Try to minimize time spent in the elements during the coldest months, and invest in a good humidifier for your home.

Stress and psoriasis often go hand in hand. The condition is itself a source of stress for many people, and stress is a big trigger for psoriasis outbreaks.

It’s important to attempt to reduce stress in your life as much as possible. Yoga and meditation practices have shown great success in relieving stress associated with many types of pain.

Having obesity can increase the risk of psoriasis as well as make the symptoms worse.

A 2013 study in JAMA Dermatology found that eating a low calorie diet led to improved psoriasis and quality of life in people with obesity.

Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke if you have psoriasis. Tobacco can make your symptoms more severe. Nicotine can interact with your psoriasis medication, too.

According to a 2006 study, smoking and tobacco use may also increase your risk of developing palmoplantar pustular psoriasis, a rare psoriasis type that affects the hands and feet.

Smoking is a risk factor that’s associated with psoriasis, but it’s not necessarily the sole cause of the condition. Smoking can also worsen other psoriasis comorbidities, such as:

  • heart disease
  • obesity
  • arthritis

Some medications interfere with your body’s autoimmune response and can cause a severe psoriasis attack. These include:

  • beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which are used to treat high blood pressure
  • pills taken to stop malaria
  • lithium
  • interferon-alpha, which is used to treat hepatitis C

Always remind your healthcare provider that you have psoriasis if you’re being prescribed any of these medications.

Steroidal medications are often given to people with psoriasis and can be very helpful during flare-ups. However, rapid withdrawal of steroidal medications can also trigger severe flare-ups.

Some common infections such as strep throat (Streptococcal pharyngitis), thrush (Candida albicans), and upper respiratory infections can trigger psoriasis outbreaks.

If you suspect that you’ve contracted any of these bacterial infections, get treated promptly by your doctor.

Less common infections or viral infections, such as HIV, can also trigger psoriasis symptoms.

If you have a bug bite, cut, or scrape, or you’ve experienced any kind of skin injury, you may notice new psoriasis lesions near the affected area. These types of injuries can even occur during everyday activities, such as shaving or tending to a garden.

Skin injury can only trigger psoriasis lesions in people who already have psoriasis.

Low estrogen levels help to trigger psoriasis in women, according to research in a 2015 review.

This helps explain why women and girls with psoriasis often see their symptoms worsen during periods such as puberty and menopause and improve during pregnancy.

The amino acid taurine and the nutrient choline may help trigger psoriasis. Psoriatic lesions also contain elevated amounts of both nutrients, according to 2016 research.

Your body naturally makes taurine, but it’s also found in meat, fish, and energy drinks such as Red Bull. Your body can make choline too, but it’s largely found in liver, eggs, and other animal products. Other food sources of choline include soybeans, wheat germ, and potatoes.

If you learn your individual psoriasis triggers, you can prevent and lessen most of your outbreaks.

It’s not always possible to avoid every trigger, but a little planning can go a long way toward preventing an outbreak. Try these steps:

  • Modify your diet to reduce or eliminate common food and beverage triggers, including alcohol.
  • Carry a hat and sunscreen with you at all times. You never know when you might be sitting at a sunny table at a restaurant.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, when posssible.
  • Find ways to reduce stress. Taking up hobbies such as exercise or practicing mindfulness techniques may do the trick.
  • Maintain a moderate weight.
  • Quit smoking, if you smoke.
  • When performing any activity that may cause skin injury, be sure to take extra precautions such as wearing long sleeves, wearing gloves, and using bug spray.
  • Keep your skin moisturized. Dry skin is more prone to skin injury.

Doctors continue to study the treatment and triggers for psoriasis. Some of the areas they’re pursuing for future potential treatment are:

  • gene therapy
  • new treatments that help skin not react to the immune system
  • how other conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes may contribute to psoriasis

Although there’s no existing cure for psoriasis, treatment can help. Understanding your triggers can also help you avoid flare-ups and manage your symptoms.

Talk with your doctor about treatment options that are best for you.

Read this article in Spanish.