Managing other health risks when you have psoriasis

Psoriasis increases your risk of a number of other chronic health conditions. But you can take steps to reduce your risk.

When you have psoriasis, your health risks may run deeper than the dry, itchy patches or scales the condition can leave on your skin. It's unclear exactly why, but psoriasis is also associated with an increased risk of a number of other serious conditions that can affect your bones, joints, eyes, heart and more. Some research suggests that this may be because the inflammation related to psoriasis might also cause inflammation in other parts of the body.

The good news is that by managing your psoriasis, you might reduce your risk of some of those other conditions. Making healthy lifestyle choices — such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, moderating how much alcohol you drink and scheduling routine health screenings — also might help. Most importantly, work closely with your doctor to monitor for signs and symptoms of associated conditions so that they can be diagnosed and treated early.

Psoriasis is associated with an increased risk of the following conditions:

  • Psoriatic arthritis can cause joint damage and a loss of function in some joints, which can be debilitating.

    Signs and symptoms are joint pain, stiffness and swelling, and sometimes back pain.

  • Eye conditions, including conjunctivitis, blepharitis and uveitis, are more common in people with psoriasis.

    Signs and symptoms could include irritated and red eyes, flaking or crusting in the eyelashes, swollen eyelids, and psoriasis on or near the eyelids.

  • Obesity is more prevalent in people with psoriasis, especially those with more severe disease.

    Obesity is having a body mass index (BMI) — your weight in kilograms (kg) divided by your height in meters (m) squared — of 30 or higher. BMI doesn't directly measure body fat, so some people, such as muscular athletes, may have a BMI in the obese category even though they don't have excess body fat.

  • Type 2 diabetes is also associated with psoriasis, particularly in those with more severe psoriasis.

    You can have type 2 diabetes for years without knowing it. But signs and symptoms may include increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss and fatigue.

  • High blood pressure is more common in people with psoriasis.

    Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms.

  • Cardiovascular disease, as well as irregular heartbeat, stroke, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, is more prevalent in people with psoriasis, particularly severe psoriasis.

    Symptoms of cardiovascular disease vary but can include chest pain, tightness or discomfort; shortness of breath; pain, numbness or weakness of the legs or arms; and pain in the neck, jaw, throat or upper back, or abdomen.

  • Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, elevated insulin levels and abnormal cholesterol levels, that increase your risk of heart disease.

    Most of the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome have no symptoms, although a large waist circumference is a visible sign.

  • Other autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease, patchy hair loss (alopecia areata) and the inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn's disease, are more likely to strike people with psoriasis.

    Symptoms of autoimmune diseases vary depending on the condition.

  • Parkinson's disease is a chronic neurological condition.

    Signs and symptoms include a shaking (tremor) of an arm or leg or a hand or fingers, a slowing of body movements over time, muscle stiffness (rigidity), and impaired posture, balance and speech.

  • Kidney disease seems more common in those with moderate to severe psoriasis.

    Signs and symptoms develop over time and range from nausea, vomiting, lack of hunger and fatigue to chest pain, shortness of breath and high blood pressure.

  • Low self-esteem and depression can also occur with psoriasis, which can affect your quality of life. You may also withdraw socially.

    Signs and symptoms of depression are many but include feelings of sadness or hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, lack of energy, sleep disturbances, and changes in hunger or weight.

Talk with your doctor about what conditions you might be at greater risk of and how to best screen for them. And be sure to let your doctor know about any symptoms you're experiencing, even if you think they might not be related to your psoriasis.

Jan. 03, 2019 See more In-depth