It’s World Psoriasis Day today, a time to draw attention to this relatively common autoimmune disease. If you’re living with psoriasis, you’re not alone — an estimated 2-4% of the population of the Western world suffers from the itchiness and discomfort that psoriasis brings.
Many nurses struggle with psoriasis symptoms, and it tends to occur alongside other inflammatory issues like gum disease.
Most people experience the onset of psoriasis in their late teens or early twenties. It’s a chronic inflammatory disease that appears to have complex genetic underpinnings, and unfortunately, there isn’t any known cure. People with psoriasis often struggle with other comorbid conditions like arthritis, IBS, metabolic syndrome, and mood disorders, and psoriasis flare-ups can be quite painful.
If you’re living with psoriasis, one proactive step that you can take is to mitigate the triggers that cause flare-ups. Some medications, like lithium and certain beta blockers, can trigger your psoriasis, as can infections or skin injuries. But for most people, one of the number one psoriasis triggers is psychological stress.
If you’re a nurse, your job is stressful. Whatever medical specialty you work with, you have a fast-paced and stressful job. When you have psoriasis, this can take a toll on you.
One of the trickier things about stress as a trigger is that once your high stress levels trigger a flare-up, the pain and discomfort create even more stress. This feedback loop can be challenging to deal with. One proactive thing that you can do is to find ways to cope with and reduce psychological stress. Not only is this good for your general physical and mental well-being, but it can also reduce the frequency of psoriasis flare-ups.
Stress and Psoriasis
Being a nurse is an intense, stressful, and often exhausting job. It’s physically and emotionally demanding, and if you have psoriasis, work stress could easily trigger an itchy, painful flare-up.
The problem with stress is that ultimately, it plays an important biological role with a long evolutionary history. Experiencing some degree of stress, including both eustress and distress, is healthy and normal. But in today’s busy modern world, we often find ourselves subject to chronic stress, which is absolutely terrible for your health.
Psychological stress affects your glucocorticoid receptor resistance, which may impair your body’s natural ability to down-regulate its inflammatory response. When stress leads to inflammation, your psoriasis has a field day.
Learning to avoid stress when possible, and to cope with it when it occurs, can help you better manage your psoriasis.
Ways to Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress is sometimes inevitable. Nursing, in particular, is a stressful occupation, and everyone knows that when they choose it as a career. But sometimes, there are some stressors in your life that you could avoid. For example, if visiting your in-laws at Thanksgiving is always extremely stressful — complete with psoriasis flare-ups — you may want to make different plans this year. If there are people in your life who seem to bring stress wherever they go, perhaps you could distance yourself from them. It’s good to avoid stressful situations when you can — stress is terrible for every aspect of your personal health.