Psoriasis and Sweating: Can Sweat Worsen Symptoms? | MyPsoriasisTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyPsoriasisTeam
Powered By

Psoriasis and Sweating: Can Sweat Worsen Symptoms?

Medically reviewed by Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Written by Suzanne Mooney
Updated on January 2, 2024

Sweating is a natural process with an important job — to keep you from overheating. For some people with psoriasis, though, sweating might seem to cause more problems than benefits. If sweating worsens your psoriasis symptoms, you’re not alone.

“It’s hot and sweaty today, so the psoriasis is really acting up behind my ears,” one MyPsoriasisTeam member said.

“Sweat means psoriasis plaques for me!” another member commented.

In this article, we look closer at sweating — what causes it, how it might affect psoriasis symptoms, and tips for managing it. If you have questions about sweating and psoriasis, schedule an appointment with your health care provider or a dermatologist.

The Purpose of Sweating

Sweating allows your body to regulate its temperature. You sweat, or perspire, when blood vessels in the skin bring body heat to the surface. This prompts your sweat glands to release water, which evaporates off your skin. The evaporation cools your body and keeps your body temperature at a healthy level. Most people have about 1.6 million to 5 million sweat glands.

In addition to water, sweat contains small amounts of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Sometimes sweat also contains bacteria, toxins, and pheromones (body chemicals that might influence others’ behavior).

Causes of Sweating

Hot weather and vigorous exercise might first come to mind as causes of sweating, but you can sweat for other reasons. Common sweating triggers include:

  • Hot weather
  • Exercise
  • Nervousness
  • Fever or illness
  • Medications
  • Hot or spicy foods
  • Hormone changes
  • Zinc supplements
  • Cancer treatment
  • Menopause

Some health experts suspect that immune-related conditions like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can raise body temperature and trigger excessive sweating, but more research is needed to confirm a connection and establish a scientific explanation.

Some MyPsoriasisTeam members report sweating as a side effect of their psoriasis medications. “Today, the sweats are bad with the methotrexate,” said one MyPsoriasisTeam member. Another member said, “My dermatologist prescribed a ketoconazole face cream, and it makes my face sweat.”

Talk to your doctor if you experience sweating as a side effect of your psoriasis treatment.

Psoriasis and Sweating

In most cases, sweating is a good thing — your body would overheat without it. If you’re living with psoriasis, however, you might question the benefits of this essential body function on days when it causes excessive itchiness or triggers a flare-up.

“The heat and sweat make my psoriasis itch worse,” said a MyPsoriasisTeam member who has scalp psoriasis. Another said, “It has been really hot lately, and my skin seems to be worse when I sweat.”

Psoriasis flares can cause symptoms such as:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Soreness
  • A patchy rash with silvery scale
  • Scaling that looks like dandruff
  • Dry skin that cracks or bleeds

Sweating may cause more problems for people with specific types of psoriasis, such as inverse psoriasis. This type of psoriasis usually appears as lesions that may look shiny or smooth and be a different color than the surrounding skin. Inverse psoriasis can develop wherever there are skin folds, including the armpits, groin, genitals, and beneath the breasts. It’s more common in people who have deep skin folds.

Sweating can worsen inverse psoriasis because of where the lesions occur. When you sweat, your skin gets slicker. This makes it easier for skin folds to rub together and irritate psoriasis lesions. Not only can this moisture worsen psoriasis, but it also can provide an environment for yeast and fungus to grow. Sweat can also make medicated creams slip off the skin.

Ways To Manage Sweating

When you have questions about psoriasis and sweating, your doctor is the first person to talk to. Be as specific as possible when describing each symptom, including how it feels and how soon after sweating it occurs. Some people find it helps to keep a symptom journal to document flare-ups as they happen instead of relying on memory. You can bring the journal or notebook with you to appointments.

Medications

Psoriasis affects different parts of the body. The type of psoriasis you have and where it develops will help you and your doctor determine the best way to manage it.

For inverse psoriasis, your dermatologist might recommend a powder to keep lesions in the skin folds dry. If you have scalp psoriasis, they might suggest a shampoo containing hydrocortisone, a type of corticosteroid that can decrease the inflammation and itching caused by sweating. Shampoos containing coal tar or ketoconazole may also help.

If you sweat excessively — a condition called hyperhidrosis — your doctor might recommend:

  • A topical lotion, ointment, or cream containing aluminum chloride that clogs sweat glands
  • An aluminum-based antiperspirant combined with an oral anticholinergic medication (a drug that blocks the activity of acetylcholine, a brain chemical)
  • Prescription-strength body wipes
  • Beta-blockers

Before taking any medications for sweating, ask your health care provider about the risks and side effects. Many people can manage sweating with lifestyle changes alone.

Lifestyle Changes

In a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, researchers found that sleep and cold showers were two of the most successful methods for alleviating itching in participants with psoriasis. But if you can avert the itching by reducing how much you sweat, that’s even better.

These lifestyle changes also might help:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes made from breathable fabric like cotton.
  • Sit in front of a fan on warm days.
  • Go swimming. (Be sure to reapply sunscreen after you dry off — sunburn can trigger psoriasis too.)
  • Exercise during the coolest part of the day.
  • Seek shade if you have to be outdoors on a hot day.

“My scalp psoriasis gets itchier in the summer months because I’m outside more and wearing a hat, which makes my head sweat,” one MyPsoriasisTeam member said. “Then the sweat makes my scalp itch. My solution is to shower after gardening and mowing and use a gentle shampoo.”

Although you may be tempted to crank up the air conditioning to reduce sweating, the chilled air can cause dry skin, which can also trigger a flare-up. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying moisturizing cream throughout the day if you have psoriasis and spending time in an air-conditioned home or building.

Advice From Others

One of the benefits of joining a local support group or an online community like MyPsoriasisTeam is the opportunity to connect with others who understand life with psoriasis and can share their tips and experiences.

MyPsoriasisTeam members have discussed strategies like these to manage sweating:

  • “I shower right after I sweat.”
  • “Gentle exercise, drinking lots of fluids, and an anti-inflammatory diet helps me.”
  • “I take an Epsom salts bath.”
  • “I usually sleep with my hair up and a window cracked or the fan on.”
  • “I try to skip the peak heat hours.”

You may need to test a few approaches to find the best way to manage sweating and ease your psoriasis symptoms. Before trying any skin care or other at-home psoriasis tips you find online, seek medical advice from a health care professional. For sweating and psoriasis, a doctor specializing in dermatology may be your best resource.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 122,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Does sweating make your psoriasis symptoms worse? Have you found ways to manage sweating? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Updated on January 2, 2024
    All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

    Become a Subscriber

    Get the latest articles about psoriasis sent to your inbox.

    Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here
    Suzanne Mooney writes about people, pets, health and wellness, and travel. Learn more about her here

    Related Articles

    About 49 percent of people with plaque psoriasis (the most common form of the skin condition) on ...

    Best Makeup for Psoriasis and 3 Tips for Application

    About 49 percent of people with plaque psoriasis (the most common form of the skin condition) on ...
    Learn what soaps dermatologists recommend for psoriatic skin, and how they can avoid worsening ex...

    Soap for Psoriasis: What Do Dermatologists Recommend?

    Learn what soaps dermatologists recommend for psoriatic skin, and how they can avoid worsening ex...
    Psoriasis on the scalp is common for those with psoriasis. Discover whether products like Sea Bre...

    Does Sea Breeze Help Scalp Psoriasis? (VIDEO)

    Psoriasis on the scalp is common for those with psoriasis. Discover whether products like Sea Bre...
    If you’re living with psoriasis, you may wonder how your diet affects your skin. Chicken, a stapl...

    Is Chicken Good for Psoriasis, or Does It Trigger Flares?

    If you’re living with psoriasis, you may wonder how your diet affects your skin. Chicken, a stapl...
    Scalp psoriasis refers to psoriasis that affects the scalp, forehead, back of the neck, hairline,...

    Scalp Psoriasis and Hair Dye — Tips for Less Discomfort

    Scalp psoriasis refers to psoriasis that affects the scalp, forehead, back of the neck, hairline,...
    Joint pain, chronic pain, stiffness, and other symptoms of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can make wor...

    Disability Benefits for Psoriatic Arthritis: Your Guide

    Joint pain, chronic pain, stiffness, and other symptoms of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can make wor...

    Recent Articles

    Dipping your toes into an oatmeal bath may bring back childhood memories of itchy chickenpox or p...

    Oatmeal Bath for Psoriasis: Can It Help or Hurt?

    Dipping your toes into an oatmeal bath may bring back childhood memories of itchy chickenpox or p...
    When it comes to psoriasis, some people are so eager to find relief that they’re open to trying j...

    Coconut Oil for Psoriasis: Is It Effective?

    When it comes to psoriasis, some people are so eager to find relief that they’re open to trying j...
    “Hormone imbalances cause my psoriasis to flare up,” wrote one MyPsoriasisTeam member. Another sa...

    Psoriasis and Hormones: How Hormonal Changes Can Affect You

    “Hormone imbalances cause my psoriasis to flare up,” wrote one MyPsoriasisTeam member. Another sa...
    There are more treatment options for psoriatic arthritis (PsA) now than ever. But before each new...

    8 Facts To Know About Psoriatic Arthritis Clinical Trials

    There are more treatment options for psoriatic arthritis (PsA) now than ever. But before each new...
    Psoriasis and asthma may seem unrelated, but doctors and researchers have found that there may be...

    Psoriasis and Asthma: What’s the Connection?

    Psoriasis and asthma may seem unrelated, but doctors and researchers have found that there may be...
    Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) and psoriasis are two chronic, inflammatory skin diseases. Hidraden...

    Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Psoriasis: What’s the Connection?

    Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) and psoriasis are two chronic, inflammatory skin diseases. Hidraden...
    MyPsoriasisTeam My psoriasis Team

    Thank you for subscribing!

    Become a member to get even more:

    sign up for free

    close