Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes itchy, bumpy patches covered with scales. These patches are usually red on lighter skin tones and purple or salmon-colored on darker skin tones. Psoriasis scales can grow anywhere on your body but most often appear on joints, such as elbows and knees. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition caused by the rapid buildup of dead cells on your skin’s surface. There are many triggers and risk factors for psoriasis. Obesity, defined as a body mass index over 30, is one of them. Conversely, having psoriasis may cause weight gain. Keep reading to learn about the connection between psoriasis and obesity, and what lifestyle behaviors can help you manage both conditions.

Does obesity increase the chances of having psoriasis?

The exact link between psoriasis and obesity isn’t clear, but obesity is a well-known risk factor for psoriasis. Moreover, weight gain can make psoriasis symptoms worse. To understand why this happens, let’s take a look inside your body.

Fat tissue and psoriasis

To communicate with each other, your cells and tissues release signaling molecules called cytokines. Cytokines are similar to hormones, but they are usually smaller. Like hormones, cytokines go into your bloodstream where they can quickly reach all parts of your body. Your fat tissue releases a special type of cytokines, called adipokines. The more fat your body has, the more adipokines get released into your bloodstream. Some of these adipokines can trigger inflammation that leads to autoimmune conditions, including psoriasis.

Role of the microbiome

Another important link between obesity and psoriasis is your microbiome, or all the microbes like bacteria, viruses, or fungi that live inside your body and on your skin. It turns out that weight gain can affect the microbiome. Changes in the microbiome can play a role in psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions.

Other risk factors for psoriasis

It’s important to remember that obesity alone does not cause psoriasis. In addition to obesity, there are many other risk factors for psoriasis, such as genetics, certain medications, and smoking tobacco. If psoriasis runs in your family, paying attention to its risk factors can help you improve and sometimes even prevent this condition.

Does psoriasis increase the chances of obesity?

Some studies have suggested that psoriasis can cause weight gain. People with psoriasis often have more fat tissue than people without this condition. Although the exact reason for this isn’t known, researchers think it may be because psoriasis can trigger depression. Depression, in turn, can affect eating and exercise habits, which may lead to obesity. If you suspect you or a loved one may have depression, reach out to a doctor or other healthcare professional, like a therapist, for treatment and support.

Does losing weight affect psoriasis?

Losing weight can have a major positive impact on psoriasis. A 2018 review of 14 studies concluded that weight loss through diet and exercise can decrease both the severity and size of psoriasis patches. Moreover, weight loss can make psoriasis medications more effective. But can weight loss prevent psoriasis? We don’t know the answer to this yet. However, a diet can help you prevent psoriasis flare-ups. Some foods may worsen psoriasis, such as: Consider avoiding or limiting these foods when possible to help prevent future psoriasis flare-ups.

What you can do if you have psoriasis and obesity

Losing weight is not an easy task. However, losing even 5 to 10 pounds can have a great effect on your psoriasis. Here are some steps you can take to manage your weight and possibly improve your psoriasis.


Exercise works in two ways to manage psoriasis. First, it helps you burn calories, which helps with weight management and weight loss. Second, it can reduce the levels of inflammatory adipokines in your blood. Both these things may help with psoriasis symptoms, but they also reduce your chances of health problems linked to psoriasis. There aren’t any special routines you need to know when exercising to improve psoriasis. Your goal is to keep moving and have fun with it — it’s important to find an exercise you enjoy. If you are new to exercise, start slow and take one step at a time. Remember that too much exercise can be detrimental because it can increase stress, and stress aggravates psoriasis. Read more about tips for exercising with psoriasis.

Balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet can help manage and improve psoriasis. This means eating nutrient-dense foods from a variety of whole-food sources. Even if a balanced diet doesn’t result in weight loss, it’s still beneficial. Research shows that what you eat can improve or worsen your psoriasis independently of weight loss. Read more about foods to avoid and diets to try if you have psoriasis.

Lifestyle changes

In addition to a balanced diet and regular exercise, there are other things you can do to improve psoriasis symptoms: If you find making certain lifestyle changes difficult, like reducing alcohol intake or quitting smoking, reach out to your doctor for help. They can help you come up with plan that works for you. Don’t hesitate to ask for support.


There is a strong link between psoriasis and obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for psoriasis, and psoriasis can cause weight gain. Losing even a few pounds can improve psoriasis symptoms. Regular exercise, certain types of foods, and other lifestyle changes can help you feel better.