Diet, alcohol and psoriasis

Some people tried cutting out certain foods and drinks to see if their psoriasis improved. Louie thought it helped if he avoided fizzy drinks as he says these make his skin flare up. Others, like Ella and Damini who had both tried stopping eating dairy, didn’t see a difference. Lisa considered avoiding gluten but her dermatologist didn’t think it would help. A few people warned about diet-related myths and scams. Sofia didn’t eat chocolate for a while but thinks it was a “silly rumour”. Steven says it’s frustrating when other people ‘blame’ his diet for his psoriasis.
A few people had seen alternative therapy practitioners and were given dietary advice. Damini had been told to avoid sugary, spicy and salty foods as well as mangoes and bananas but found the restrictions hard to maintain. Russell cut down his intake of dairy, switching to coconut milk as an alternative, which he thinks helped a lot. He finds it “more difficult to control” his diet when back at home from university, as his parents usually cook the meals. People also found information about diet by looking online, talking to friends, asking their doctors and reading ‘psoriasis diet’ books.
Rather than avoiding any particular foods, some said they try to have a ‘healthy’ diet overall. Lucy thinks this is hard when living away from home at university though. She was excited about all the foods she could eat but thinks an unhealthy diet showed in her psoriasis getting worse. Hannah says she used to “comfort eat” when she felt down about psoriasis. Some people talked about a ‘healthy lifestyle’ as being about diet but also exercise and mental health. Many people wanted to find a balance between managing their psoriasis but not missing out on things they enjoy. Abbie says she has some “naughty days”, like when she’s going out for dinner with friends and wants to order a meal with ingredients she would otherwise avoid.

Lots of people thought alcohol was bad for psoriasis because it dries the skin. Some people, such as Abbie, hadn’t noticed any difference. Neither had Damini but she says she tries to keep her alcohol consumption low. Lucy described drinking water as a genuine “beauty secret” and good for psoriasis.
Some psoriasis medicines impact on diet/alcohol consumption. Systemic non-biologicals like methotrexate and cyclosporine had side effects for some people, making them feel sick and queasy. Alcohol shouldn’t be drunk whilst taking methotrexate because of the risks of liver damage. For Lucy, the combination of the side effects from methotrexate and having to avoid alcohol had a big impact on her social life while at university. Another dietary issue for some systemic non-biological medicines is having to avoid grapefruit because of drug interactions. Sofia also tracks her calcium intake for a clinical trial that she’s taking part in.
Some young people said they thought smoking would make psoriasis worse. Those who smoked pointed out that it wasn’t the cause of their psoriasis nor the only factor to affect it. Adam had psoriasis years before he smoked or drank alcohol. Adam tried to stop smoking with the help of a therapist using hypnosis. He had hoped to see “instant effects” and improvements in his psoriasis, but his motivation to quit dropped when this didn’t happen.


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