Why Does Psoriasis Itch?

People with psoriasis often describe the itchy feeling that psoriasis causes as burning, biting, and painful. Up to 90 percent of people with psoriasis say they itch, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).

For many people with psoriasis, itching is the most annoying symptom of the condition. It can be severe enough to disrupt your sleep, destroy your concentration, and interfere with your sex life.

We’ll tell you why you itch and how to relieve the discomfort so you can focus on your life.

What causes the itch?

When you have psoriasis, a problem with your immune system causes your body to produce too many skin cells, and it does so at a rate of production that’s too rapid.

The dead cells move quickly to the outer layer of your skin and build up, forming red patches covered in flaky, silver scales. The skin also turns red and inflamed.

Even though the word “psoriasis” comes from the Greek word for “itch,” in the past, doctors didn’t consider itching a main symptom of the condition. Instead, they would determine the severity of the disease based on the number of scaly patches a person had.

Today, the medical profession is increasingly recognizing “itch” as a major symptom of psoriasis.

The itching is caused by psoriasis scales, flakiness, and inflamed skin. However, it’s also possible to itch in areas of your body that aren’t covered by psoriasis scales.

Triggers that make itchiness worse

When you have an itch, the temptation is to scratch. Yet scratching can increase inflammation and make itching even worse. That creates a vicious pattern known as the itch-scratch cycle.

Scratching can also damage the skin, leading to the formation of even more itchy plaques and even infection.

Stress is another itching trigger. When you’re under stress, you’re more likely to have a psoriasis flare, which can set off another bout of itching.

Weather conditions can also influence itching. In particular, very dry conditions and warm weather have both been known to trigger or exacerbate itchiness.

Ways to soothe the itch

No matter how bad the itching gets, try not to scratch or pick at your plaques. Scratching can make you bleed and worsen your psoriasis.

Many of the therapies your doctor prescribes to treat psoriasis, including phototherapy and steroids, can help with the itch. If it continues to bother you, try one of these remedies:

Lifestyle changes

If psoriasis itching continues to bother you, talk to your doctor about other ways to treat it.

Share your “You’ve Got This: Psoriasis” story to help empower others living with psoriasis.

Read more on: psoriasis