Avoid Skin Trauma to Minimize Psoriasis

If you have psoriasis you should avoid injuring or traumatizing your skin

Psoriasis on elbow
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If you're coping with psoriasis, there's probably a lot you already do to take care of your skin. One thing your doctor has likely recommended is avoiding injury or trauma to your skin. 

One of the key features of psoriasis is chronic low-grade trauma in areas such as your elbows and knees. In cases of direct trauma, such as a cut or wound, your skin can Koebnerize or turn into psoriasis. For this reason, trauma to the skin needs to be avoided or minimized if you have psoriasis.

What Is Koebnerization?

The Koebner phenomenon (also known as Koebnerization or isomorphic response) occurs when a new area of psoriasis develops from injured skin. For example, after a surgery, psoriasis may develop around the surgical scar. This phenomenon may also help explain why psoriasis tends to occur on areas of constant low-intensity trauma such as elbows and knees.

Koebnerization can also occur after non-traumatic skin injuries such as a sunburn or an allergic reaction to a medication. If you are trying to clear up your psoriasis by spending time in the sunlight, you can end up even worse if you get a sunburn and induce a whole-body psoriasis flare up.

Likewise, if you have dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis on your face and scalp, you may develop psoriasis in these areas due to irritation and scratching as well as a crossover or combination dermatitis known as "sebopsoriasis." Koebnerization is not specific to psoriasis and can be seen with mosaic skin disorders like vitiligo as well. 

Avoiding Skin Injury 

Protecting your skin is important, and while accidents happen, there are a number of precautions you can take to protect yourself from Koebnerization. Trauma that can cause new skin lesions includes physical injuries such as:

  • Bites
  • Burns
  • Friction 
  • Shaving
  • Freezing
  • Lacerations
  • Puncture wounds 
  • Surgical incisions 
  • Pressure

Other injuries causing items include chemical irritants, manicures, thumb sucking, hairspray, skin allergy patch tests, and tattoos. The best way to avoid injury is to eliminate as many of these risk factors as possible. When outside, stay covered to protect yourself from bites. If you are undergoing a medical procedure, such as surgery or getting an injection, let your doctor or surgeon know you have psoriasis and ask if there are any ways to minimize skin trauma during the procedure. 

New lesions can also result from hives and other conditions affecting the skin. Koebnerization can also occur as a symptom of withdrawal from methotrexate therapy. If you are concerned another skin condition or change in medications may be causing your psoriasis to worsen, speak to your doctor about ways to better manage your care and condition. 

Treat your skin kindly in order to keep it calm. Try not to participate in activities that increase your risk of skin trauma or injury. By minimizing your risk of trauma, you'll be one step closer to preventing psoriasis outbreaks. 

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