ALCOHOL consumption has continuously been linked to a number of dermatological conditions. Although still not proven, studies have now provided significant evidence to support a link between alcohol and the onset of psoriasis, in addition to its exacerbation of established disease.
An autoimmune disease affecting the epidermal layer of the skin, psoriasis affects roughly 2–3% of the population and is equally prevalent in men and women. Dysfunction of the immune system encourages the rapid turnover of skin cells, without a change in shedding rate, resulting in the formation of scaly, erythematous plaques; in a healthy individual, skin cell turnover rate is estimated to occur every 28–30 days, increased substantially to every 3–4 days in psoriasis patients. The exact mechanisms behind its pathogenesis are unknown, however, the National Psoriasis Foundation links stress, certain medications, infections, and diet as correlative triggers to flare-ups.
Evidence suggests that individuals recorded to frequently consume alcohol have an increased risk of psoriasis development compared with the general population. In a systematic review of 23 studies conducted by Brenault et al., Dermatology Department, Morvan University Hospital, Brest, France, a link between alcohol consumption and disease onset was reported in 18 of the studies, with the authors commenting: “Alcohol consumption seems to be greater in psoriasis patients than in the general population. However, there is not enough evidence to establish whether alcohol consumption is indeed a risk factor for psoriasis.”
In patients known to drink large volumes of alcohol, studies have noted a tendency for psoriatic plaques to develop on the back of the hands and fingers, similarly to individuals affected by HIV, eluding to a possibility of alcohol-induced immune dysfunction; an effect on inflammatory cascades and cell cycle activators have both been proposed. Known consequences of alcohol consumption, dehydration and vitamin deficiency, are detrimental to the health of the skin and therefore will also increase the symptoms associated with psoriasis.
Even though a direct link is yet to be established, current therapeutic options for the treatment of psoriasis, namely methotrexate, put strain on the liver and therefore it is recommended to avoid alcohol when diagnosed. It is likely that in the near future its avoidance may be suggested as a preventative measure, with research sure to find reason behind the correlations observed.