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Psoriasis And Alcohol: Can Drinking Make Your Symptoms Worse?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

February 11, 2019

Alcohol can negatively impact psoriasis, and even cause an initial flare-up of the condition. Getting treatment for an alcohol addiction can help prevent the worsening of psoriasis and help individuals get on the road to recovery.

While alcohol does not cause psoriasis, it can cause the condition to worsen. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes the body to produce too many skin cells. This results in skin cells building up too quickly on the surface of the skin, causing scaly red patches that can be itchy and painful.

This condition is chronic, but it can be managed. Treatment involves taking topical and/or oral medications that prevent the skin cells from growing so quickly.

Symptoms of psoriasis can include:

  • cracked, dry skin
  • red patches of skin
  • soreness, burning, and/or itching
  • stiff and swollen joints
  • ridged or thickened nails

Whether the condition is in remission or a person is experiencing a flare-up, drinking can worsen the symptoms of psoriasis for many people.

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How Does Alcohol Affect Psoriasis?

While alcohol certainly does not cause psoriasis, it can have a negative impact on the condition. In fact, excessive alcohol consumption could potentially trigger an initial flare-up in those who have this autoimmune disorder.

While there is no concrete link between psoriasis and alcohol, research has found that people who drink may be at a greater risk of developing the condition. One study found that women who consumed more than two to three drinks a week over the course of 14 years were more likely to have psoriasis than those who didn’t drink.

What’s more, people who drink alcohol excessively have been shown to not respond as well to treatment for psoriasis than those who don’t drink. Those who drink heavily often have psoriasis flare-ups on the hands and fingers.

Other ways that alcohol may affect someone with psoriasis include:

  • increased risk and severity of symptoms
  • increased flare-ups
  • increased side effects of medications taken for psoriasis
  • weakened immune system, which can increase chances of worsened psoriasis or infections
  • decreased chances of remission

Additionally, it’s been found that some people with psoriasis could also have something known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This means that alcohol should be limited or cut out completely from the person’s diet to prevent liver damage.

One study found that there is a much higher rate of alcohol-related deaths for those who have psoriasis versus those who don’t.

Why Does Alcohol Make Psoriasis Symptoms Worse?

The exact reason why alcohol can trigger or worsen psoriasis is not fully known. Some believe that it is because alcohol weakens the immune system, leaving people susceptible to developing autoimmune conditions like psoriasis.

Alcohol may also cause the body to produce inflammatory cytokines and cell cycle activators which can contribute to the increased production of skin cells.

Alcohol is known for triggering or worsening other skin conditions such as rosacea. Alcohol can also cause facial reddening in people without rosacea. This is a result of a genetic deficiency of the alcohol metabolism enzyme and is most commonly seen in the Asian population.

Do All Types Of Alcohol Affect Psoriasis?

A recent study found that drinking non-light beer may put females at a higher risk for developing psoriasis. However, aside from this study, no other correlation between alcohol types and psoriasis has been made.

Any type of alcoholic drink can be abused, and in turn, can cause a psoriasis flare-up or trigger the development of the condition. The more alcohol a person drinks, the higher the chances that he or she will exacerbate his or her psoriasis symptoms.

Can You Prevent The Effects Of Alcohol On Psoriasis?

The best way to prevent triggering or worsening psoriasis is to abstain from alcohol. Individuals can also speak with their doctors regarding the safe amount to drink with this condition. Everyone will be different depending on his or her condition and treatment.

Getting Treatment For An Alcohol Addiction

If you are suffering from alcohol addiction, it’s important to seek help to prevent further worsening of your psoriasis symptoms. A formal treatment program, such as an inpatient alcohol addiction program, may be needed to overcome an alcohol use disorder.

To learn more about if drinking alcohol can make psoriasis symptoms worse or how to seek treatment for alcohol addiction, contact our treatment specialists today.

Skin Therapy Letter - Alcohol and Skin Disorders: With a Focus on Psoriasis

The International Society of Dermatology - Alcohol, psoriasis, liver disease, and anti-psoriasis drugs.

Mayo Clinic - Psoriasis

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