Although psoriasis isn’t life threatening, it can increase your risk of serious health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.

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Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes dry, scaly, and itchy skin over large areas of your body. While there’s currently no cure, medications and lifestyle measures can help.

Psoriasis isn’t typically a life threatening condition, but it can increase your risk of other serious health conditions. These may include cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. It’s important to get treatment for your psoriasis to prevent these risks.

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that can cause significant discomfort and pain. It has also been linked with other health conditions that have the potential to be fatal.

Having psoriasis can increase your risk of serious conditions like:

Even if you don’t develop another condition, psoriasis can negatively affect your quality of life. Studies have found that individuals with psoriasis on the palms of their hands or the soles of their feet tend to have a poorer quality of life than those with other types of psoriasis.

Although psoriasis is often identified by itchy skin, it’s an immune-mediated disease, which means the underlying inflammation can affect the organs of your body.

When psoriasis isn’t treated, your likelihood of complications, like psoriatic arthritis and cardiac disease, can increase. You’re also more likely to experience a mental health condition.

Learn more information about the potential complications of untreated psoriasis.

Psoriasis affects approximately 7.55 million adults ages 20 years old and older in the United States.

The condition occurs when immune cells become overactive and produce molecules that result in the rapid production of skin cells.

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but scientists believe it may be related to an autoimmune disease and genetics. Environmental factors may also play a role.

Some factors that may increase your risk of psoriasis include:

  • having a family history of psoriasis
  • having an infection, such as HIV
  • using certain medications
  • smoking
  • having obesity

There’s currently no cure for psoriasis, but there are treatments that can help to control uncomfortable symptoms.

To develop the best treatment plan for you, a doctor will consider:

  • the type of psoriasis you have
  • the location on your body of any skin irritations
  • how severe the psoriasis flares are
  • how your body reacts to different medications

Treatment for psoriasis can include both medications and lifestyle changes.

Some types of medications that may be recommended by a doctor include:

  • Topical therapies: Topical therapies such as corticosteroids especially may be recommended.
  • Immunosuppressants: Immunosuppressants include methotrexate (Jylamvo).
  • Biologic response modifiers: Biologic response modifiers can block specific molecules responsible for inflammation.
  • Oral phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitors: Oral PDE4 inhibitors target the enzymes inside immune cells, preventing both inflammation and the rapid production of skin cells
  • Oral tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) inhibitors: Oral TYK2 inhibitors block certain immune cells from activating.

Doctors may also recommend phototherapy with ultraviolet light if psoriasis affects large areas of your body. Oral retinoid medications may be used in combination with phototherapy.

A doctor may also recommend lifestyle measures, such as:

  • moisturizing heavily after bathing in lukewarm water with a mild soap
  • maintaining a healthy diet and weight
  • avoiding any triggers
  • stopping smoking, if you do smoke
  • limiting alcohol consumption, if you do drink
  • limiting exposure to sunlight
  • speaking with a therapist or attending a support group regularly

You can read more about psoriasis treatments here.

Speak with a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist, if:

  • Psoriasis covers a significant portion of your body.
  • Itching or a skin rash won’t go away.
  • You have a fever along with your psoriasis flares.
  • Your mental health is being affected.
  • Joint pain or swelling occurs.
  • You wish to update or change your treatment plan.

You can read more about these and other reasons to speak with a healthcare professional about your psoriasis here.

When is psoriasis considered severe?

Psoriasis is considered severe if it covers more than 10% of your body. For most individuals, your hand is about the same as 1% of your skin’s surface.

Is psoriasis contagious?

Psoriasis isn’t contagious. The skin condition can’t be caught by coming into contact with someone who has it.

Is psoriasis curable?

Psoriasis isn’t curable. But there are several medication options, such as topical therapies, that can help to manage symptoms. Lifestyle measures such as avoiding triggers and maintaining a healthy diet can also help.

Psoriasis may appear as dry, flaky, or scaly skin, but it’s actually immune-mediated, which means it can affect your organs. Psoriasis itself isn’t typically life threatening. But if left untreated, it may lead to other serious health complications ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.

It’s important to speak with a doctor if psoriasis covers large parts of the body, you’re not responding to treatment, or your mental health has become affected. They can help determine your next steps.