Causes and triggers of psoriasis

A variety of things may trigger the onset of psoriasis or make it worse. Are there things you should try to avoid to prevent a flare-up? Is your blood pressure medication affecting your psoriasis? Should you try sunbathing? Read on to find out.

Can infections trigger psoriasis?
Yes. Guttate psoriasis has been shown to develop following strep throat (streptococcal throat infection). Other infections that may trigger psoriasis include HIV and infections caused by staphylococcal bacteria.

Can psoriasis develop at sites of injury to the skin?
Yes, it can. When psoriasis plaques develop where the skin has been injured, it is called Koebner's phenomenon.

Are there medications that can make psoriasis worse?
Yes, some medications may cause a flare-up of psoriasis. Examples of these include antimalarials (e.g., chloroquine), mood stabilizers (e.g., lithium), blood pressure medications (e.g., beta-blockers), and certain skin creams or lotions containing skin irritants. For some people who are taking corticosteroid medication by mouth, the psoriasis symptoms may worsen when they stop taking the medication. Check with your doctor if you are taking any of these medications.

Does sunbathing improve psoriasis or make it worse?
It depends. A bad sunburn is a form of skin injury and can result in Koebner's phenomenon (see above), which causes psoriasis plaques to form. However, sunlight and artificial UV light are also treatments for psoriasis. Many people with psoriasis notice an improvement of their symptoms in the summer, but a few people find that sunlight aggravates their condition. Some medications used to treat psoriasis, such as tazarotene, can increase a person's sensitivity to the sun. Anyone taking psoralens for phototherapy should be careful to avoid overexposure to sunlight.

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