According to research, smoking doubles the risk of getting psoriasis. This risk rises the higher the number of cigarettes smoked, and tends to affect women more than men. In particular, studies have shown there's a link between smoking and development of a rare type of psoriasis, called palmoplantar pustulosis.
Psoriasis is a skin disease associated with an overactive immune function. If you consider that nicotine in cigarette smoke has the effect of altering the immune system, it's not hard to see how the link between smoking and psoriasis is made. Other chemicals in cigarettes are also thought to interfere with skin cell growth, causing damage and inflammation, which may play a role in the development of this skin disease
It's not just the development of psoriasis and the severity of symptoms that are associated with a smoking habit, but research has also pointed to the link between smoking and remission rates. One study highlighted that nearly 8 out of 10 people who experienced remission from psoriasis symptoms were non-smokers
Smoking may also appear to affect the outcome of psoriasis treatment, with one study in particular highlighting that treatments for psoriatic arthritis were less effective in smokers.
Given the fact that many people smoke to alleviate stress symptoms - and stress is a known trigger for psoriasis flare-ups - the link between smoking and psoriasis is further established.
The good news is that there's a lot of support available to help you quit smoking, so discuss options with your doctor and dermatologist. Cessation options may be chosen based on your specific type of psoriasis and your current psoriasis treatment. For example, nicotine skin patches may not necessarily be suitable if your skin is red and sore, but there are lots of other options you may be able to try to help you quit.
If you smoke to help tackle stress symptoms, or if you are finding quitting smoking stressful in itself, you may wish to try other activities to alleviate your worries and anxieties. Exercise, meditation or talking therapies can all be useful to combat stressful situations.