COVID-19 has impacted people in all aspects of life. The cancellation of graduations, weddings or other key events coupled with lost jobs and wages can cause increased stress and anxiety. This heightened tension can lead to several mental and physical health issues including psoriasis flare-ups.

Psoriasis is a common, long-term (chronic) skin disorder that causes skin cells to multiply up to 10 times faster than normal. It is believed to be the result of an abnormal immune system with no cure. In most cases, Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions of red, bumpy, itchy, scaly patches on various part of the body.  The most common symptom is a rash on areas of the lower back, elbows, knees, legs, soles of the feet, scalp, face and palms. Sometimes the rash involves the nails or joints.

Most types of psoriasis go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time or even going into remission. Psoriasis signs and symptoms can vary from person to person.

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
  • Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed or itch
  • Itching, burning or soreness
  • Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
  • Swollen and stiff joints

Common Triggers

Inflammation and nutrition – The foods you consume do not cause psoriasis, but some foods could be causing inflammation in your body which can lead to psoriasis flare-ups. I recommend low inflammatory diets which are focused on more fruits and vegetables instead of consuming processed foods, such as pizza or potato chips, and foods that include white sugars, such as breads or peanut butter.

Next time you are meal prepping or at the grocery store, try to add more plant-based items to your list. This may help soothe the psoriasis flare-ups.

Household cleaners – If you find yourself using more household cleaners than normal, you may see an increase in psoriasis flare-ups. Depending on the sensitivity to one’s skin, the flare-ups could be due to the usage of the cleaning products or simply the fumes emitted from them.

With the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities, it is difficult to reduce the amount of cleaning within our homes. Try to develop a cleaning schedule where you are not using so many products at once and see if your flare-ups decrease.

Excessive hand washing – Especially during this season of COVID-19, hand washing is important and should not affect those with psoriasis as much as those with eczema. However, if you noticed your skin is feeling irritated from all the hand sanitizer and proper hand washing, use a moisturizing cream on your hands to help relieve the irritation.

Stress – If you are feeling stress or overwhelmed consider making time for what matters to you and turning down additional responsibilities. Find ways to cope with the stress you feel, such as doing things you enjoy and activities that focus your mind on something other than your stresses. Consider meditation, yoga, light exercise and spending time with talking with friends and loved ones.

If you need a primary care provider, please call UofL Physicians – Family Medicine at 502-588-8700 to schedule an appointment today. Telehealth appointments are also available!

Image of post author
Article by: Brittney M. Richardson, M.D.

Brittney M. Richardson, M.D., was born in Baton Rouge and raised in Independence, a small town in southeast Louisiana. After completing her undergraduate education and graduating Summa Cum Laude from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2009, she matriculated at University of Louisville School of Medicine. Due to the vast opportunities here in Louisville, Dr. Richardson remained in town to complete both her residency in Family Medicine and a Primary Care Sports Medicine fellowship. During training, she was named the Stephen F. Wheeler Intern of the Year and served as chief resident, and ultimately decided to take a position as a Family and Sports Medicine faculty member. Some of her medical interests include procedures of all sorts, including joint injections and compartment syndrome testing, taking care of athletes of all levels, and teaching medical students, residents, and fellows. Dr. Richardson’s education background includes her BS- Biology: Xavier University, Louisiana; MD: University of Louisville, Kentucky; Residency—Family Medicine: University of Louisville, Kentucky and Fellowship—Sports Medicine: University of Louisville, Kentucky.

All posts by Brittney M. Richardson, M.D.
Calendar icon that indicates scheduling an appointment
Schedule an