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Alcohol and Psoriasis: Not a Good Mix

In honor of Psoriasis Awareness Month, we’re devoting August to raising awareness about psoriatic disease and its effects on the more than 7.5 million people living with this condition. This week, we are taking a look at how drinking alcohol can affect your psoriasis. Heavy drinking has been linked to both an increase in the risk and the severity of psoriasis, particularly in men. Having psoriasis can be very stressful and drinking alcohol to relieve this stress can be very tempting, however, having more than one or two drinks in a day may very likely cause your psoriasis to become more severe and spread to larger areas on your skin. Researchers believe that heavy alcohol consumption affects psoriasis by:

  • Lessening compliance with taking medications
  • Slowing down or stopping the effects of medications
  • Lowering your immune function, which can increase your risk of skin infection
  • Increasing inflammation in your body which triggers psoriasis flare-ups
  • Causing dehydration in the body and drying out the skin

Findings of a Recent Study In a large US study about the correlation between drinking alcohol and psoriasis, a connection was found for women drinking who drank more than 2.3 drinks per week with new onset of psoriasis. Women who drank more than five beers per week experienced an increase in the severity of their psoriasis. For men who drank an excessive amount of alcohol (about 4-5 drinks per day, according to this study), they were at an increased risk for the development and severity of psoriasis. Go Easy for the Sake of Your Skin According to Dr. Donnelly, a dermatologist with Forefront Dermatology in Carmel, Indiana, “For many people, identifying the source of stressors can really make a difference for managing their psoriasis.  Sometimes a change in employment, loss of a loved one or stressors at school and home can drive people to seek relaxation with alcohol, and often even a slight increase in alcohol consumption can trigger flares for psoriasis sufferers.  What starts as an extra drink after dinner can easily escalate to two or three, which may trigger psoriasis to really flare.  Once patients take stock of what is stressing them out, it’s often easier to identify what triggers them to have a drink, and they can then work towards finding healthier alternatives to relax.” So what amount of drinks is safe to have for psoriasis suffers? Your best bet is to use common sense and limit drinks to no more than 2 at a time, no more than two times per week. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it is taking moisture out of skin that is already predisposed to being dry and flaky. If you are going to drink, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated. In addition, follow these psoriasis and alcohol tips:

  • Do not drink alcohol while taking certain medications to treat psoriasis. Alcohol can be very dangerous for patients taking mexotrexate. Consult your Forefront Dermatologist if you have questions about the medication you are taking and whether it is safe to drink alcohol.
  • Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as meditation, counseling, healthy diet and exercise.
  • Try keeping a journal of your daily food and alcohol intake to determine if you can find a pattern between things you are eating and drinking and your flare-ups.
  • If you have children, be sure they are aware of the increased risk of developing psoriasis if they smoke or drink heavily—smokers with a family history of psoriasis increase their risk of getting it themselves as much as nine times.

Living with Psoriasis: How Can You Feel Better? If you or a family member is living with psoriasis, there are many things that you can do to feel better. Find the Forefront physician nearest you to learn about treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help prevent flare-ups and eliminate psoriatic disease symptoms in many cases.