National Psoriasis Foundation
About psoriasis

FAQs: questions about lifestyle and living with psoriasis

Will having psoriasis affect my lifestyle or quality of life?

For the most part, people with psoriasis function normally. Sometimes people experience low self-esteem because of the psoriasis. Psoriasis is often misunderstood by the public, which can make social interactions difficult. This may lead to emotional reactions such as anxiety, anger, embarrassment and depression. Psoriasis can affect the type of work people do if it is visible.

Psoriasis impacts some people more than others. Women, younger patients and people with moderate to severe psoriasis experience a greater negative impact on their quality of life.3

What can trigger my psoriasis?

Triggers can include emotional stress, injury to the skin, some types of infection and reactions to certain drugs. Stress can cause psoriasis to flare for the first time or aggravate existing psoriasis. Psoriasis can also be triggered in areas of the skin that have been injured or traumatized. Certain medications, like antimalarial drugs, lithium and certain beta-blockers, are also known to cause psoriasis flares. Other triggers may include weather, diet and allergies. Triggers will vary from person to person.

Why does my psoriasis itch, and how do I control the itching?

Itching that is associated with psoriasis arises when certain chemicals stimulate nerve fibers just below the outer layer of the skin. Itch messages travel to the brain along the same pathways in the nervous system that carry pain messages. Itch messages trigger the urge to scratch.

One of the simplest ways for people with psoriasis to control itch is by keeping the skin moisturized. Dry skin can induce and aggravate itch. Many people also rely on simple, inexpensive measures, such as pressing a wet towel against the itchy spot. Others find cold showers and cold packs offer relief. Other treatments for itch include antihistamines, steroids, capsaicin, topical anesthetics, topical immunomodulators, antidepressants and aspirin. Find out more about itch treatments for psoriasis.

How does clothing affect my psoriasis?

Many people with psoriasis experience itching and irritation with certain types of clothing. Wearing a layer of silk or soft cotton underneath problem garments can help. Moreover, wearing undergarments can protect clothes from topical psoriasis treatments, which can be greasy and stain. Learn more about how your clothing can impact the symptoms of psoriasis »

What is the financial impact of psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a life-long condition. Most people need ongoing treatments and visits to the doctor. In severe cases, people may need to be hospitalized. About 56 million hours of work are lost each year by people who suffer from psoriasis. Total direct and indirect health care costs of psoriasis for patients are calculated at $11.25 billion annually with work loss accounting for 40 percent of the cost burden.4

1. Stern RS, Nijsten T, Feldman SR, Margolis DJ, Rolstad T. Psoriasis is common, carries a substantial burden even when not extensive, and is associated with widespread treatment dissatisfaction. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2004 Mar; 9(2):136-9.

2. Gelfand JM, Gladman DD, Mease PJ, Smith N, Margolis DJ, Nijsten T, Stern RS, Feldman SR, Rolstad T. Epidemiology of psoriatic arthritis in the population of the United States. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Oct; 53(4):573.

3. Gelfand JM, Feldman SR, Stern RS, Thomas J, Rolstad T, Margolis DJ. Determinants of quality of life in patients with psoriasis: a study from the U.S. population. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Nov; 51(5):704-8.

4. Fowler JF, Duh MS, Rovba L, Buteau S, Pinheiro L, Lobo F, Sung J, Doyle JJ, Swensen A, Mallett DA, Kosicki G. The impact of psoriasis on health care costs and patient work loss. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Nov; 59(5):772-80.

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