After tossing back a few drinks, some peeps with psoriasis wind up with a massive hangover and that familiar itchy, flaky flare-up. But is there really a connection between those G&Ts and your psoriasis?
Research indicates that alcohol is a known psoriasis trigger and that higher-than-average alcohol consumption is common among folks with psoriasis. About one-third of people with psoriasis may consume excessive alcohol.
Fast facts about alcohol and psoriasis
If you have psoriasis, drinking alcohol in even small amounts *might*:
- make your psoriasis worse or a cause a flare-up
- negatively impact your psoriasis treatment
- increase harmful and serious side effects of some psoriasis meds
- lower your likelihood of psoriasis remission
- reduce your immunity and increase your risk of infection
- up your odds of liver disease
- increase your risk of alcohol abuse
And if you don’t have psoriasis, drinking alcohol may increase your odds of getting it.
Let’s dig into the deets about alcohol and psoriasis.
We don’t know exactly what causes psoriasis, but your genes and certain environmental factors may affect your symptoms. Research suggests alcohol may be one of those factors.
Experts haven’t confirmed a link between alcohol and psoriasis for sure, but here’s some of research that suggests folks who drink alcohol have a greater chance of psoriasis flare-ups:
- In a 2013 review, researchers found a link between alcohol consumption and psoriasis in 18 of 23 studies.
- A 2021 review concluded that alcohol can negatively impact psoriasis symptoms.
- A 2010 study found an increase in psoriasis onset in women who drank at least five non-light beers per week. Researchers speculated that the high starch content in darker beer may have triggered psoriasis symptoms.
So, what gives? Research from 2011 suggests that drinking alcohol may trigger inflammation in your body, upping your risk of infection. Inflammation and infections are known psoriasis triggers — even if the science isn’t totally conclusive yet.
In a 2019 review, researchers also speculated that alcohol may make your skin more permeable and therefore more susceptible to issues like psoriasis.
🚨 PSA on psoriasis medications and alcohol!
The labels on some psoriasis meds advise against *any* alcohol intake during use. This is because alcohol can increase your risk of serious side effects or make certain medications less effective. Always chat with your doc about potential medication interactions before drinking.
In a 2017 study, researchers found that alcohol abuse affects nearly one-third of people with psoriasis. Stats from the study also suggest that those with psoriasis are more likely to die of alcohol-related disease.
According to a 2016 review, those with psoriasis may also be more likely to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Though this disease is not caused by alcohol intake, this research may suggest that people with psoriasis are more susceptible or have weakened livers to begin with.
So alcohol might just make matters worse. According to research from 2011, psoriasis may lead to an increased risk of liver damage and disease.
Since psoriasis is linked to depression and depression is linked to alcohol use disorder, there’s a lot of overlap among the three conditions. If you have psoriasis, it’s important to pay attention to your overall mental and physical well-being — and cutting back on alcohol intake may be one way to do so.
To help prevent health probs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women consume one alcohol beverage or less per day and men drink two or less per day.
Research about psoriasis and alcohol mostly focuses on the amount of alcohol and not the type, so it’s tough to say whether your pinot grigio, vodka soda, or craft beer will do more damage.
But a 2010 study did find that non-light beer increased the risk of psoriasis in women, while light beer, wine, and liquor did not. It’s possible that darker beers may be the worst culprits as a result of their high starch content. Beer also contains gluten, another known psoriasis trigger.
But the jury’s still out on this theory. Right now it seems like whiskey or an IPA could potentially trigger a flare-up.
For people with psoriasis, the most solid advice seems to be to go easy on the alcohol to avoid the potential risks. Drinking alcohol — even in small amounts — may cause flare-ups, reduce the effectiveness of treatments, and make symptoms worse.
Meanwhile, cutting back or skipping alcohol altogether may reduce psoriasis severity and increase treatment effectiveness.
There’s just no solid research to show what happens to folks with psoriasis when they eliminate alcohol completely. However, some people have shared anecdotal success stories after becoming sober.
Alcohol isn’t the only psoriasis boogeyman out there. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, other common triggers include:
- Stress. Psychological stress appears to play a role in psoriasis outbreaks. If you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or super stressed, consider therapy or relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.
- Skin injuries. Watch yo’self — cuts, scratches, sunburns, and injuries of all kinds may make your skin more susceptible to a flare-up.
- Infections. Infections weaken your immune system and can make psoriasis outbreaks worse.
- Certain meds. Medications like lithium and Inderal may make psoriasis symptoms worse. Talk with your doc to see if any of yours could affect your symptoms.
- Smoking cigarettes. Tobacco causes all kinds of probs, and psoriasis is one of them. Consider kicking your cig habit if you’re hoping to reduce your symptoms.
- Dietary factors. Nightshade plants, gluten, dairy, shellfish, pork, red meat, and foods high in sugar and fat are common dietary triggers to consider avoiding.
Much like foundation shades and fave ice cream flavors, psoriasis triggers vary from person to person. So, what works for you might not work for your BFFWP (you know, your Best Friend Forever with Psoriasis 👯).
If you have psoriasis and like to indulge in the occasional drink, talk with your doctor or dermatologist to discuss any potential concerns. They may recommend a safe amount to consume or offer other tips to minimize symptoms.
If you’re experiencing depression due to your psoriasis, alcohol intake, or any other reason, bring that up with your doc too. Together, you can create a treatment plan that works for you.
Signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, some common signs of alcohol use disorder are:
- feeling powerless to drink less
- skipping out on activities you once enjoyed
- drinking in high-risk situations
- developing a high tolerance for alcohol
- craving alcohol
- experiencing withdrawal symptoms
- facing problems at home, work, or school
- drinking to cope
If you relate to any of these, talk with your doctor or a therapist or seek support from a rehab center. If nothing else, reaching out to someone you trust is a great first step.