Psoriasis and the Unlikely Path to Gambling Addiction: A Dual Struggle

Written By Janice Doughtrey

The struggles of psoriasis patients are often skin-deep, manifesting as painful, itchy, and scaly patches. But, as an illuminating report from WebMD outlines, there’s an underlying layer of complexity. It turns out Psoriasis has a complicated relationship with addiction—specifically, addiction to alcohol and tobacco. These substances are not just a temporary salve for the stress and anxiety that come with a chronic skin condition; they are potential exacerbators of the symptoms themselves.

In this landscape of medical and psychological entanglements, a vicious cycle emerges. Alcohol and tobacco use can worsen psoriasis symptoms, causing more stress, which leads to further reliance on these substances. A detrimental feedback loop forms, exacerbating both the addiction and the skin condition.

The Biochemical Equation

On a biochemical level, alcohol can cause inflammation, aggravating psoriasis. It does this by causing the body to produce specific cytokines—protein messengers—that trigger inflammation. Simultaneously, alcohol dilates the blood vessels in the skin, allowing white blood cells to infiltrate the layers of skin, which only compounds the problem. The result? A heightened state of inflammation that amplifies psoriasis symptoms.

Tobacco, meanwhile, affects the blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, potentially intensifying symptoms. Nicotine, one of the many substances found in tobacco, has been shown to alter the immune system and contribute to the cell mutations that cause psoriasis. Lighting a cigarette is akin to pouring gasoline on a fire, a fire already burning with the intensity of an inflammatory condition.

The Psychological Dimension

On a psychological level, alcohol and tobacco can offer momentary relief from stress, a constant companion of any chronic condition. That relief is illusory; the body builds tolerance to these substances, requiring more over time to achieve the same stress-relieving effects. Patients may find themselves descending deeper into addiction, chasing a sense of relief that is increasingly elusive.

The Medical Maze

Treating psoriasis is already a challenge. A variety of treatment options exist, from topical treatments to phototherapy to systemic medications. However, when addiction is also part of the equation, clinicians and patients face a much more complex task. Not only must they alleviate the skin condition, but they must also address the underlying addiction, a task often requiring the expertise of mental health professionals.

Social Stigma and Isolation

Beyond medical and psychological complexities, there’s also the social angle to consider. Psoriasis often comes with a significant social stigma, a reality that can drive individuals further into addiction as a form of escape or coping. The isolation often experienced by those with psoriasis can compound addictive behaviors, creating a nexus of medical and social problems that can be overwhelming.


The relationship between psoriasis and addiction unearths new layers in the complicated narrative of chronic conditions. On one hand, the physical toll of psoriasis is glaringly obvious; anyone can see the discomfort and embarrassment it often causes. On the other hand, its psychological dimensions are largely hidden, quietly but substantially affecting patients’ lives.

The link between psoriasis and gambling addiction serves as a cautionary tale for medical practitioners and patients alike. It’s not enough to treat the symptoms visible to the eye. A holistic approach, one that considers mental and emotional health, is imperative. The complex interplay between the mind and body in cases of psoriasis and addiction points to the need for an integrated treatment plan, perhaps involving not just dermatologists but also psychologists and addiction specialists.

The study also raises important questions for further research. Could the chronic stress associated with psoriasis be a risk factor for addiction to other substances or gambling behaviors? And if so, how can treatment plans be adjusted to address this?

These are uncomfortable questions, perhaps, but they are essential in broadening our understanding of psoriasis and its ripple effects on patients’ lives. One thing is certain: this skin condition has implications that go far beyond the surface, deeply affecting not just physical but also mental well-being. The question now is how best to treat both.

As we delve further into this critical issue, it becomes increasingly clear that the interconnections between psoriasis and addiction require a multifaceted approach to treatment. This is not merely a dermatological concern; it is a comprehensive medical issue that demands attention from various angles of the healthcare spectrum. The path forward? A more integrated approach, embracing the complexities rather than simplifying them, is the best bet for effective treatment.