Are you living with psoriasis and feel like you’ve tried everything to ease your symptoms? What if the answer to getting more relief was as simple as drinking more water? While there’s no cure for this skin condition, staying hydrated can help to soothe the inflammation and itchiness associated with psoriasis. We all know that drinking water is good for the skin. But if you have a skin disease, your water intake can directly affect your symptoms. For people with psoriasis, dehydration can make the skin extra itchy and worsen issues like flaking.
You may need to drink more water than usual with certain psoriasis treatments and medications, especially if you lead an active lifestyle or live in a warm climate. Drinking water helps with common side effects of psoriasis medication and protects your other organs and body systems during treatment.
There are many good reasons to drink more water and no major reasons not to. Here’s more information on why drinking water is so essential for psoriasis, along with helpful tips to increase your daily intake.
Adult bodies are made up of about 60 percent water. In addition to helping the cardiovascular and digestive systems run smoothly, water plays a critical role in the skin. Water is important for the skin’s barrier function — its ability to act as a protective layer from the outside world. Drinking enough water helps hydrate the skin and may improve elasticity and reduce clinical signs of skin issues like dryness or roughness.
Some psoriasis creams and ointments, including topical emollients (designed to trap moisture in the skin), work by reducing the skin’s water loss. These skin products preserve the water that is already in your skin, which helps maximize the benefits of hydration.
If you have psoriasis, you’ll need to be mindful of your risk of psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis that affects the joints. Most people won’t get it, but psoriatic arthritis affects up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis. It’s possible for psoriatic arthritis to develop 8 to 10 years after psoriasis first appears. Psoriatic arthritis can affect your quality of life by making it difficult to move around and causing stiffness and pain. Drinking plenty of water may not prevent psoriatic arthritis, but it can help you maintain a healthy body weight. As a result, you’ll keep systemic inflammation in check and avoid added stress on your joints.
Studies show that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages promotes unhealthy weight gain and inflammation. These include soda, sweetened teas, and some sports drinks. You can reduce your risk by switching to water, which has no added sugar or calories.
“I gave up soda but not caffeine,” shared one MyPsoriaisisTeam member. “Soda is completely out. I drink water and some coffee, and I see a big difference in my psoriasis.”
If you’re having trouble making the change, try diluting sugar-sweetened beverages with water to help cut back on the amount of sugar you’re taking in. Changing your habits may not happen overnight. But drinking more water will help you feel less thirsty, making it easier to resist sugary beverages that could harm your health.
Some psoriasis medications note dehydration as a potential side effect. For instance, the package insert for adalimumab (Humira) lists dehydration as an unlikely but possible adverse reaction to the drug. “I took my Humira shot yesterday. I’m trying to stay hydrated,” shared a member of MyPsoriasisTeam.
Adalimumab and other biologics (medications made from living cells) for psoriasis work by weakening the immune system. Unfortunately, they can also make you more susceptible to infections. Hydrated skin offers stronger barrier protection against infections. Therefore, protecting your skin from water loss and drinking enough water can avoid further compromising your immune system.
Other psoriasis medications, like cyclosporine (Sandimmune) and acitretin (Soriatane), list various side effects like kidney disease, high blood pressure, and dry lips and nasal passages. Staying hydrated is essential for proper kidney and heart function and keeps the skin moisturized. Do yourself a favor, and drink plenty of water to help your body process any medications you’re taking and minimize unwanted side effects.
Methotrexate suppresses the immune system’s activity, which can reduce inflammation. You’ll need to avoid alcohol when taking methotrexate for psoriasis to reduce your risk of liver damage. Drinking plenty of water instead (or replacing a cocktail with club soda and lime) is a good way to help protect your skin and liver.
One MyPsoriasisTeam member elaborated on her relationship with alcohol consumption. “Personally, alcohol and a bad diet certainly preceded the start of my psoriasis and arthritis. And it affected my treatment in that I refused to go on methotrexate when I discovered I couldn’t drink anymore,” she said. “Nowadays, I’m a lot better and only drink on special occasions, but I always have flare-ups after.”
Daily water requirements are estimated at 11.5 cups for women and 15.5 cups for men whether or not you have psoriasis. But drinking a little extra couldn’t hurt, especially if you’re in the middle of a flare-up or starting a new medication. In addition, you need to drink more water with intense exercise, sickness, and hot weather.
It’s easy to spot dehydration by the color of your urine. A dark yellow or amber color means you should be drinking more. In addition to causing skin issues, not drinking enough water can cause headaches, memory problems, and constipation.
Drinking too much water, or overhydration, is uncommon. In extreme cases, overhydration can cause confusion and seizures. People participating in endurance athletic events, like running a marathon, may be at risk for overhydration if they’re not also replacing lost electrolytes with sports drinks or supplements. But the general population doesn’t need to worry as much about overhydration risks in everyday life because extra water is filtered out of the body through urine.
You can get plenty of fluid from a combination of food and drinks. Aside from drinking more plain water, other good water sources include:
One MyPsoriaisisTeam member suggested a way to take tea without adding sugar: “I have tea first thing in the morning and at the end of the night. It helps. Just don’t touch refined honey or sugar. Let the tea steep, and enjoy it on its own with a little lemon.”
Get a refillable water bottle and pair water drinking with other daily activities, like before meals or after brushing your teeth. Keep a water bottle handy when you’re in the car. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to have a drink — try to sip water at regular intervals throughout the day. You can even set reminders on your phone to take a water break.
MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 117,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.
Has your dermatologist suggested drinking more water? Have you noticed worsening symptoms or psoriasis flare-ups from dehydration? Post your suggestions in the comments below, or start a conversation on MyPsoriasisTeam.