Undoubtedly, almost all the systems of medical science – Allopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda and Naturopathy have advised limiting alcohol consumption to heal psoriasis. Generally, alcohol consumption in higher amounts is considered as a trigger for psoriasis. But once you got psoriasis, you would be advised to cut down on alcohol consumption as much as possible. The level of peace you will make with psoriasis will depend upon the level of commitment you imply to your Do’s and Don’ts. And, alcohol surely comes in the latter category.
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, weight loss and decreased alcohol consumption can improve the psoriasis symptoms and going further, it can increase the effectiveness of various psoriasis medicines.
According to a case study published in the British Medical Journal, Mar 1990- alcohol is a risk factor for psoriasis among young and middle aged men.
According to a review published in the magazine- Alcohol, Aug 2008- regular alcohol consumption can offer a suitable environment for the disease causing microbes to proliferate which in turn would increase the intestinal permeability to worsen leaky gut.
Various clinical researches have been conducted on the effect of smoking (tobacco) and alcohol on psoriasis. Almost all the researches have brought forward the same conclusion- Smoking and drinking (alcohol) can trigger psoriasis. The exact damage caused by alcohol consumption is hard to measure because most of the people consume tobacco and alcohol together and hence, the exact damage caused by individual addiction is hard to figure out.
Psoriasis and Alcohol- Things to know
Let’s have a look at possible harms of alcohol towards psoriasis:
- Alcohol consumption causes dryness of skin as it is diuretic in nature. It strips off moisture from your skin making it dry and rough. Psoriasis itself is characterized by extreme dryness of the skin. Hence, this increased dryness (due to alcohol) can increase the skin itching and discomfort severely. Such a situation can induce you to rub your skin harshly which would eventually worsen the situation. Also, dehydrated skin (and body) increases inflammation and obstruct the process of elimination of toxins from your body.
- Alcohol doesn’t mix well with various medicines given to deal with psoriasis. For example, the use of methotrexate is very common to treat psoriasis. People would take it for a longer period of time or almost for lifetime (that is why I don’t consider pharmaceutical solutions for psoriasis anymore because they just suppress the symptoms temporarily and don’t attack the root cause). Prolonged use of methotrexate has serious impact on the liver. And if you are a moderate to heavy drinker then the combined impact of methotrexate and alcohol can seriously damage your liver beyond repair.
According to a study reported in the Journal of Hepatology, Oct 2009- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is highly prevalent among psoriatic people due to a poorly functioning over-burdened liver. Hence, any drug like methotrexate which can cause liver toxicity should be administered with precaution.
- Various studies relate alcohol to obesity. There can be numerous reasons to support this claim. Beer and wine have empty calories, which can promote weight gain and obesity. Also, some people experiences increased appetite after drinking alcohol which would eventually result in overeating and obesity. Obesity is a well known trigger for Psoriasis.
Click here to read more: Obesity and Psoriasis
- Heavy drinking and depression go hand in hand. Psoriasis is quite a frustrating problem which can make you sad and depressed sometimes for obvious reasons. Either it is the people’s reactions towards your psoriasis affected skin or the sudden flare up in your psoriasis for unknown reasons. To cope up with those attacks of depression, people can turn to alcohol for some relief. But, this approach of dealing with those moments of depression is not right. Alcohol itself is a depressant. Hence, this dependency on alcohol would further increase the intensity of depression, making the situation further worse.
Click here to read more: Stress can trigger Psoriasis
- Alcohol consumption interferes with various medicines in a negative way and reduces their healing power and cause resistance to the treatment.
- Regular consumption of alcohol can develop nutritional deficiencies in your body. Various B-complex vitamins (Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid) are depleted from your body by alcohol. Also, alcohol can cause poor absorption of various minerals (zinc, calcium, magnesium, Omega 3 fatty acids and many more) and vitamins (Vitamin C, vitamin A) from the food we eat. Your body needs these vital nutrients for optimum body metabolism and growth. Lack of these nutrients would ultimately decrease your body immunity making you vulnerable to be attacked by unwanted foreign species.
- Negative impact of alcohol consumption on the liver is well known. Since our childhood, we have been listening that alcohol can damage liver. Regular consumption of alcohol can cause inflammation of the esophagus (food pipe from the throat to the stomach) and liver. Destruction of liver cells and deposition of fats in your liver are other serious harmful effects of regular consumption of alcohol on the liver. Impaired liver means faulty body metabolism and hence, increased psoriasis symptoms.
- Barley in beer has gluten. Gluten sensitivity is linked to psoriasis worsening by various research studies. Similarly, few other cocktails contain a significant amount of added sugars. Artificial sugar is also a BAD food for psoriasis.
- Almost all the alcoholic beverages are highly acidic in nature. Hence, excessive regular consumption of alcoholic drinks would your body pH acidic in nature making your Psoriasis worsen. Remember, diseases can’t survive in alkaline body environments. Similarly, highly acidic body environments are safe heavens for all the disease causing bacteria and fungi.
Click here to read more: Body pH and Psoriasis
- Excessive alcohol consumption can promote the growth of yeast infection (Candida). Candida and psoriasis are closely linked because Candida over growth makes the perfect background for an autoimmune disorder like psoriasis to attack your body.
What about Beer
When we say that alcohol can trigger psoriasis, some people may think that beer is allowed because the alcohol content in beer is quite low. But, things are not so simple. There is a bad news for all those beer lovers as well. Around 2005, a study was conducted on 83000 women. They were questioned every two years about their alcohol consumption (which type of alcohol and how much in quantity). Also, they were asked if they have been diagnosed with psoriasis. The study results are very surprising. It says- The risk of developing psoriasis was 72% higher for those women who drank 2.3 beers per week than those women who don’t drink alcohol at all. This risk further increases for those women whose beer consumption is further high.
The researchers attributed this result to the possible intolerance of people (suffering from psoriasis) towards gluten. Beer is manufactured by fermentation of starch. The starch source here is barley. Barley is a whole grain containing gluten. People suffering from psoriasis sometimes, show sensitivity towards gluten. Hence, gluten in barley has been regarded as the culprit here.
Click here to read an interesting story: Dairy and gluten free diet helped the mother and her daughter-in-law
Quitting alcohol is not easy
Alcohol consumption is one of the most stubborn addiction. Cutting down on alcohol consumption is not an easy thing to do; older the habit, harder it takes to quit. Also, some people can raise their voice that why should they give up on alcohol to manage their psoriasis because alcohol is a source of entertainment for them. They would not welcome the idea of quitting alcohol consumption for ever.
In my opinion, we are trying to heal psoriasis to make our lived better in a longer run. All the efforts that we are discussing on this blog have one single aim- To make our life better. Hence, there is no point in doing something halfheartedly because it will not be effective in the long run, rather it will be stressful for you.
Below steps would help you to take a wise decision in this regard:
- Take a pen and paper and write down all the possible reasons that why you need to quit this habit (drinking).
- Write down everything. What would be the benefits if you quit alcohol and what would you lose.
- Then, understand the above written harmful effects of alcohol on the skin. It would help you to take the wise decision.
- Once you decide that you want to quit alcohol or at least limit the consumption, then make a detailed plan to gradually reduce the quantity. Although it is always better if you can quit alcohol at once. But, if you are a medium to heavy drinker and you are finding it hard to quit (or at least reduce) alcohol consumption, then go slow and steady. Gradually reduce the quantity of alcohol.
- Tell your family members and close friends about your decision. Their emotional support would be a big help for you. You can also take professional help from health professionals if you need.
Tips to minimize psoriasis breakup while drinking
- Next time you are about to drink alcohol, make it more diluted. More the amount of water, better it is because water makes your body hydrated. Also, diluted drink would be easier for your body to metabolize.
- If you have enjoyed a few drinks of alcohol on an evening with your friends, make sure that you drink enough warm water before going to bed because your kidney needs some extra attention after consuming alcohol and drinking warm water will help your kidney to flush off the toxins next morning efficiently.
- Tell your doctor about your alcohol consumption so that medicine dosage can be optimized accordingly because alcohol can reduce the healing power of medications.
- Generally, people have a habit of smoking along with alcohol consumption. Avoid it because smoking and drinking both are considered psoriasis triggers and a combined attack of both these things would seriously affect your psoriasis.
Click here to read: Smoking can trigger Psoriasis
- Interestingly, all the alcoholic beverages don’t affect your psoriasis equally. For example, if you are sensitive to gluten, then beer would be more harmful than other drinks. Hence, you can try experimenting with various alcoholic beverages and identify which one doesn’t affect your psoriasis (or affect less) and which one is comparatively more harmful. In this way, you can enjoy your alcohol with minimum effect on your psoriasis.
Why sometimes quitting alcohol worsen your psoriasis
Yeah, you heard it right. Some people can experience worsening of their psoriasis after quitting alcohol instead of feeling improvement. The basic reason behind such an inverse reaction is- STRESS and ANXIETY.
Below stated scenarios would make you understand it better:
- If you are a moderate to heavy drinker, then quitting alcohol can impose serious alcohol withdrawal reactions. Shaking, sweating, nausea, headache, vomiting, anxiety, mood swings to name a few. Coping up with these unpleasant reactions can make you feel highly stressed and traumatized. Such a severe attack of stress can result in psoriasis break out.
- As explained earlier, regular consumption of alcohol causes nutritional deficiency in your body, particularly B complex vitamins, vitamin C and minerals. When you are drinking alcohol regularly, your body is maintaining the status quo to make you feel normal. Once you stop taking alcohol, your body would react intensely to the nutritional deficiency and make you feel uncomfortable and hence, can trigger your psoriasis.
- Sometimes, people expect miraculous results after quitting alcohol. They forget that psoriasis is a complex disorder and some times, it can take few weeks or even a few months to show significant positive results. Such an impatient behavior can impose unnecessary stress on your mental health.
Hence, patience is the key here. Involve your family and friends in this journey of alcohol detox and avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety. Slowly but surely, you would experience long term delightful results.
Psoriasis and alcohol- Don’t make this combination a taboo. If you have a healthy digestive system, if your gut health is good and you are eating a healthy diet to get enough nutrients, if your immune system is good, then consuming alcohol in small to moderate amounts may not be a problem for you. But, unfortunately, people suffering from psoriasis have serious issues related to immune system and gut. Hence, you are advised to observe closely if alcohol consumption is really affecting your psoriasis. In case you are not sure if alcohol is a culprit for you or not, then simply stop alcohol for at least a period of 4 weeks and see the impact. If psoriasis symptoms reduces, then definitely you should try to quit or at least cut down on alcohol consumption. Also experiment with various alcoholic beverages to find out which one is less harmful for your psoriasis.
Next time you are up for the weekend party, show some love towards your skin and don’t go beyond a few drinks or just a bottle of beer. Restriction is only on alcohol, there is no restriction on having fun with friends though 🙂