Dealing with Psoriasis Setbacks During the Pandemic

If you’ve experienced a psoriasis flare or have discontinued treatment, here’s how to get back on track.

Medically reviewed in February 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal life in countless different ways, including the way that people manage health conditions like psoriasis. Healthcare appointments may have been cancelled or skipped, medications may have been discontinued due to a variety of reasons, and the ambient stress of the pandemic may have led to setbacks in managing psoriasis.

If you’ve experienced a setback, the following strategies may help you get your psoriasis management back where you want it to be.

Schedule an appointment
Psoriasis is a different experience for everyone, and your best source of information will always be your healthcare provider. If you are overdue for an appointment, have experienced a recent flare of psoriasis symptoms, or have concerns about your health and safety as the pandemic continues, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

If you have concerns about going to a healthcare office, ask if your healthcare provider is able to see you with a telehealth appointment. Telehealth enables patients and providers to connect remotely using computers and smart phones. More and more patients and healthcare providers began to utilize telehealth during the pandemic in an effort to reduce exposure to coronavirus.

Re-starting treatment
It is important to be as honest as possible with your healthcare providers, even though some topics may not be easy to discuss. Be honest if you have stopped taking a medication, have concerns about the cost of medication, or have discontinued any aspect of your psoriasis treatment. Remember, your healthcare provider is there to help you.

If you need to resume treatment for psoriasis, discuss this with your healthcare provider, who can advise you on how to do it safely. Your healthcare provider can also answer any questions or address any concerns you have about treatment during the pandemic and your risk of infection.

If you have experienced a flare
A flare is an exacerbation of psoriasis symptoms. Even in people who have had control over psoriasis for long periods of time, flares can occur, and they can occur for a variety of reasons.

If you have experienced a flare, you should speak to your healthcare provider about it. You should also try and identify why the flare occurred. Common psoriasis triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Smoking (including secondhand smoke)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Changes in weather (especially cold, dry weather)
  • Injuries to the skin
  • Stopping medications for psoriasis

Tracking symptoms
Keeping a symptom journal or keeping track of symptoms can provide helpful information to you and your healthcare provider and help you stay on top of psoriasis management. If you aren’t keeping a journal or tracking symptoms, now is a great time to start. If you had been keeping a journal in the past, but have not been updating it, now is a great time to make it a part of your daily routine.

Reduce stress
The pandemic has been a stressful time for many. Stress is a potential psoriasis trigger and can also make managing psoriasis more difficult in general—keeping up with skincare routines, eating well, exercising, and avoiding unhealthy habits can be very difficult when you are feeling stressed and worn out. It is important to find activities that help reduce stress and to make these a part of your day. Stress is also bad for physical and mental health, and it’s a topic you should discuss with your healthcare provider.

Mark E. Czeisler, Kristy Marynak, et al. "Delay or Avoidance of Medical Care Because of COVID-19–Related Concerns — United States, June 2020." Morbitity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2020. Vol. 69, No. 36.
Qiaolin Wang, Yan Luo, et al. "Nonadherence to Treatment and Patient-Reported Outcomes of Psoriasis During the COVID-19 Epidemic: A Web-Based Survey." Patient Preference and Adherence, 2020. Vol. 14.
Nicholas D. Brownstone, Quinn G. Thibodeaux, et al. "Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Biologic Therapy in Psoriasis: Infection Risk and Patient Counseling in Uncertain Times." Dermatology and Therapy, 2020. Vol. 10, No. 3.
Penn Medicine News. "Patients with Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Should Continue Treatment Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic."
National Psoriasis Foundation. "Your Doctor Will See You Now."
American Academy of Dermatology Association. "COVID-19: Dermatology."
Merck Manual Professional Version. "Psoriasis."
American Academy of Dermatology Association. "Are Triggers Causing Your Psoriasis Flare-Ups?"
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "Psoriasis."
Mayo Clinic. "Psoriasis."
Arlington Dermatology. "Tracking and Controlling Your Psoriasis Flares."
National Psoriasis Foundation. "Life with Psoriasis."
Mayo Clinic. "Stress Management."

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