If you have psoriasis, you know all about the visual impact it can have on your body. Between 80 and 90% of people experience the buildup of thick, scaly patches of skin called “plaques.” These potentially itchy plaques are the most common manifestation of this chronic, inflammatory skin disease, but psoriasis has also been linked to a number of chronic and systemic health issues. In this post, we’ll discuss how psoriasis affects the body and what signs to look out for.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease, and the most common form of the condition is plaque psoriasis. Other less common forms of psoriasis include:
- Flexural or inverse psoriasis
- Pustular psoriasis
- Guttate psoriasis
What Should I Look For?
If you have psoriasis, you should be on the lookout for warning signs of common conditions that are often linked to psoriasis. Below, you’ll find warning signs of some of the chronic and systemic health conditions linked to psoriasis:
Vision & Eye Problems
People with psoriatic arthritis are more likely to suffer from conjunctivitis, which is commonly referred to as “pink eye.” Signs of conjunctivitis can include redness, itching, and overproduction of tears (watering eyes).
Uveitis is an inflammatory disease of the eye that about 7% of psoriasis sufferers struggle with. If you are dealing with Uveitis, you may experience eye pain, redness, blurring, and dark, floating spots in your field of vision.
Your healthcare provider, eye doctor, and dermatologist should all be consulted in order to plan for effective treatment. When caught in the early stages, serious complications, including loss of eyesight, can usually be avoided.
Studies have shown an increased risk of obesity in patients with psoriasis. In addition to obesity, psoriasis is also associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.
Emotional & Mood Disorders
In the journal, Archives of Dermatology, research was published indicating those with psoriasis are 39% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and 31% more likely to struggle with anxiety. According to Dr. Nicholas Crowley of U.S. Dermatology Partners Shoal Creek, “The psychosocial impact of psoriasis can have a major effect on patients’ quality of life.” Self-imposed social isolation due to feeling like they don’t belong or that others view them differently is one reason so many people with psoriasis may struggle with emotional and mood disorders. For many people, connecting with others who struggle with psoriasis can help them to feel understood and supported and give them access to a network of resources who can help them stay safe and healthy. If you notice changes in your mood or behavior, feelings of hopelessness, increased feelings of panic, or suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a mental health professional or talk to your dermatologist about a referral.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition where fat accumulates in the liver. Those with psoriasis may have an increased risk of NAFLD and cirrhosis of the liver.
Psoriasis can also affect your joints. Psoriatic arthritis can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. In addition, you may also notice changes in your fingernails or toenails.
When do I Need to Get Help?
Hopefully, you’re already working with a skilled dermatologist to control your psoriasis. If you notice any of the warning signs of these health conditions often linked to psoriasis, you should talk to your dermatologist and/or a general physician right away. If you aren’t working with a dermatologist to develop a plan to treat and control the symptoms of psoriasis, finding one should be your first step. At U.S. Dermatology Partners, we unite a team of skilled dermatologists across the country to provide exceptional care. If you’re interested in working with one of our dermatology professionals, complete our convenient appointment request form online. One of our friendly team members will be in touch soon to answer questions and schedule your appointment.