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Are My Drinking Habits Making My Psoriasis Worse?

Alcohol is the most commonly abused mood-and-mind-altering substance today. Many people use it to unwind and relax after a long day. Others use it to socialize with friends and have a good time. However, alcohol consumption is more dangerous for some than it is for others. For example, people with psoriasis, an immune-related skin condition, are encouraged to avoid drinking alcohol because it can cause flare-ups.

Although drinking and alcoholism do not cause psoriasis, alcohol consumption of any kind can worsen the condition. At the same time, people who struggle with psoriasis may be at an increased risk of developing alcoholism. We take a look at the ways alcohol affects psoriasis and why it’s important to get help for a drinking problem–particularly in regards to people with this condition.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disease that is thought to be immune-system related. It causes skin cells to multiply faster than normal, leading to red, itchy, scaly patches of skin on the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp. Psoriasis is a chronic condition with no known cure. Symptoms can be managed using an ongoing treatment that involves topical and/or oral medications that slow down the growth of skin cells.[1]

Signs and symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Cracked and dry skin
  • Soreness, burning, and/or itching
  • Stiff, swollen joints
  • Red patches on the skin
  • Thick or ridged nails

There are also several different types of psoriasis, including guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, and, the most common, plaque psoriasis.

The Effects of Drinking Alcohol on Psoriasis

Alcohol does not cause psoriasis, however, it can exacerbate symptoms of the condition because it weakens the immune system. In fact, studies suggest excessive drinking can trigger initial flare-ups in people with this immune condition.[2] Moreover, people who drink do not respond as well to psoriasis treatment as those who don’t drink.

A few ways drinking alcohol can negatively affect psoriasis include:

  • Causing a dangerous interaction with psoriasis drugs like methotrexate
  • Initiating or worsening flare-ups
  • Alcohol weakens the immune system which can worsen psoriasis symptoms and make individuals susceptible to infection
  • Lower risk of remission in symptoms
  • Alcohol increases the production of inflammatory cytokines and cell cycle activators which can cause skin cells to regenerate excessively and trigger or worsen symptoms

Furthermore, research has found a link between psoriasis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).[3] NAFLD is a multisystem disease that affects organ systems, metabolism, and immune response and is characterized by fat in the liver without inflammation or damage. Alcohol, however, puts a lot of stress on the liver and increases the chances of liver damage and cirrhosis.[4] As a result, people with NAFLD, and people who are at an increased risk for NAFLD, are encouraged to limit or exclude alcohol from their diets.

The best way to prevent a person from triggering or worsening a psoriasis flare-up is to abstain from alcohol altogether. Unfortunately, abstaining from alcohol isn’t easy for everyone–and people with psoriasis may be more likely to struggle with alcoholism compared to the general population.

The Relationship Between Alcoholism and Psoriasis

Psoriasis can be triggered and worsened by alcohol consumption. Sadly, studies have found that higher than average alcohol consumption is extremely common among people who struggle with the condition.[2]

While there is limited information available on exactly why people with psoriasis consume more alcohol than the average person, it is likely due to the long-term psychological toll sustained from the chronic condition. Similar to other chronic conditions, like chronic pain or mental illness, many people seek relief by using drugs or alcohol. Using alcohol to self-medicate the psychological symptoms that come with chronic immune disorders can easily turn into an addiction, worsen the person’s condition, and interfere with prescribed treatments.

In a population-based study, researchers found that patients with psoriasis had a 60% greater risk of dying due to alcohol-related causes compared to the general population.[2] As a result, it’s important that people who suffer from psoriasis and alcoholism obtain the help they need for both conditions.

How to Know if You Have a Problem With Alcohol

Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcoholism is helpful in identifying a drinking problem. A person may have a problem with alcohol if they experience one or more of the following:

  • Difficulties with controlled drinking
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Regular binge drinking
  • Obsession with alcohol
  • Needing to drink more to feel the effects
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Inability to stop drinking
  • Continued drinking despite negative consequences

There is no evidence that some types of alcohol are less triggering for psoriasis than others. Beer, wine, and liquor all have the same effect on the immune system and skin regeneration. While some people may try to justify their drinking by saying they don’t drink hard liquor, they are still doing the same damage to their immune system–and may still have a drinking problem.

Start Alcohol Rehab in West Palm Beach Today

If you struggle with psoriasis, it’s important to take steps in your daily life to minimize your risk of flare-ups and worsening symptoms. Drinking on a daily or regular basis is terrible for your skin and your immune system, and it’s likely to make your symptoms worse. If you find yourself trying to stop drinking but unable to do so, our team at Mandala Healing Center is here to help.

Starting with detox and ending with IOP, we can help you begin your recovery journey. Our holistic approach focuses on whole-person wellness, so you can boost your immune system, eat a healthy diet with our nutrition program, and take back control over your health.

Don’t wait any longer. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism and psoriasis, call us today.