Psoriasis And Physical Activity


Exercise can reduce the risk related to psoriasis, but if you overdo it, you can increase the body's stress response and it might just result in the opposite effect. Read on to learn about the effects of physical activity on individuals with psoriasis.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune (the immune system of the body mistakes any foreign particle with the body’s cells and attacks it) skin disease and is associated with several comorbidities like cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.1

Psoriasis is mostly diagnosed in adulthood. Around 7.5 million people aged 20 and older have psoriasis in the US and it affects men and women equally.2

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, there is an increased chance of developing psoriasis if any of the family members have it. However, a few people develop psoriasis with no family history at all.


  • Dry, itchy skin covered in scales.
  • Soreness may or may not be present.
  • Mostly occurs in cycles and lasts for a few weeks to months before it eases or stops.
  • Differs in terms of skin colour – on lighter skin, the patches appear red or pink with silvery scales, whereas on darker skin, the patches might appear purple or dark brown with greyish scales.3

However, the type of psoriasis may differ and can turn severe. It is recommended to contact your GP if you notice any symptoms related to psoriasis.

What happens to the skin during exercise?

Exercise is one of many lifestyle habits that people tend to value. Exercise not only helps you to lose weight but boosts overall self-esteem, not to mention the many beneficial effects it has on the largest organ of the body – the skin.

Exercise helps burn calories, reduces stress, improves the overall appearance of the skin, and decreases other skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.4

Physical exercise promotes better sleep

Have you heard of post-workout glow? This is why you notice red, radiant, and flushed skin during and post-workout sessions. During exercise, ‘happy hormones’ like endorphins are released and blood flow to all the organs of the body increases. This provides nutrients to each cell of the body and flushes out impurities from the skin.

When you exercise

You tend to breathe faster to compensate for the amount of oxygen required, and an increase in heart rate increases blood flow to the muscles.

There is also the widening of blood vessels, which is responsible for causing flushing of the skin since the small blood vessels open up to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and flush out the extra toxins that accumulate.

Sweat gathers on the skin’s surface

During exercise, the body sweats due to the rise in temperature, and blood flow to the skin's surface increases – the body’s defence mechanism. Sweating balances and regulates electrolytes and body temperature through sweat ducts in the skin.

Sweat is composed primarily of water, small amounts of minerals (sodium, magnesium, and potassium), metabolites (urea, lactate, and ammonia), and unmetabolized pharmaceutical drugs.5

Although sweat helps to remove and flush out toxins from the body, the downside of sweat is it can also cause clogged pores, a major cause of skin breakouts. The chance of skin issues increases when you sweat with makeup on.

Sweat dehydrates and irritates the skin

Itching is considered the most common symptom in individuals with psoriasis, affecting 70-90% of them. Itching differs in its level of severity and depends on a few factors like hot or dry weather, stress, and lifestyle patterns. Itching affects both the physical and emotional well-being of people.

A study reports that itching often in public places, visible skin flaking, and blood-stained clothes give rise to mood instability and depression.6

Sweating causes skin dehydration, leading to losing minerals and electrolytes like sodium and potassium. This causes excess dryness and leads to the buildup of dead cells on the skin's surface.

Tips for working out with psoriasis

  • Opt for loose clothing or fabrics that don’t stick to the skin, preferably synthetic nylon
  • Moisturize the area or the patches before exercise
  • Drink plenty of water daily and look for any possible changes to your lifestyle
  • Stay clean and wipe off sweat
  • Use cold compresses
  • Start exercising slowly with basics then move on to more advanced ones
  • Avoid exercises that are too stress-centric or those which promote sweating
  • Enjoy participating in activities that interest you and do not let psoriasis define you!


Including physical activity in the life of people with mild to moderate psoriasis can lower the risks of flare-ups. Sweating is our body’s mechanism to control our temperature. so although it is not possible to avoid sweat, it can be managed. Lifestyle modification, managing stress, and awareness of the condition can help improve the quality of life of individuals with psoriasis.


  1. Yeroushalmi S, Hakimi M, Chung M, Bartholomew E, Bhutani T, Liao W. Psoriasis and exercise: a review. Psoriasis (Auckl) [Internet]. 2022 Jul 2 [cited 2022 Nov 11];12:189–97. Available from:
  1. Everything you need to know about psoriasis [Internet]. Healthline. 2021 [cited 2022 Nov 11]. Available from:
  1. Psoriasis - symptoms [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2022 Nov 11]. Available from:
  1. How your workout can affect your skin [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 11]. Available from:
  1. Chen YL, Kuan WH, Liu CL. Comparative study of the composition of sweat from eccrine and apocrine sweat glands during exercise and in heat. Int J Environ Res Public Health [Internet]. 2020 May [cited 2022 Nov 11];17(10):3377. Available from:
  2. Taliercio VL, Snyder AM, Webber LB, Langner AU, Rich BE, Beshay AP, et al. The disruptiveness of itchiness from psoriasis: a qualitative study of the impact of a single symptom on quality of life. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol [Internet]. 2021 Jun [cited 2022 Nov 11];14(6):42–8. Available from:

Bhashwati Deb Barma

Bachelor of Physiotherapy,M.S., Ramaiah Medical College, India

Bhashwati is a Physiotherapist with a firm grasp of Paediatric physiotherapy and is currently working with special children in the community.

She has 6 years of experience working in hospitals and non-profit organizations set up. As a writer by passion, she is putting up her practical and academic knowledge into her articles. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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