Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects the skin. However, the inflammation that causes psoriasis can eventually lead to other complications, especially if your psoriasis is left untreated.
The following are 12 of the most common complications of psoriasis and how to avoid them.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is classified as a type of psoriasis and arthritis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, arthritis develops in up to 30 percent of all cases of psoriasis. It affects both the skin and your joints. You may have early symptoms of PsA if you notice red or swollen joints, such as your fingers, elbows, and spine. Other signs include stiffness and pain, especially right after waking up in the morning.
The earlier you treat PsA, the less likely you’ll develop debilitating joint damage. Your dermatologist may refer you to a rheumatologist who specializes in this condition. They will likely treat your PsA with antirheumatic and anti-inflammatory medications to stop joint damage and to improve your mobility.
Certain eye diseases are more prominent with psoriasis. The same inflammation that affects your skin cells can also lead to complications within delicate eye tissue. With psoriasis, you may be more prone to getting blepharitis, conjunctivitis, and uveitis.
Uncontrolled psoriasis can interfere with your normal activities. Having an unpredictable chronic condition like psoriasis can take a toll on your mental health. It's understandable to feel worried about the next time you'll have a flare. Or, you might feel too self-conscious at times to socialize.
If you've experienced feelings like this, it could be anxiety — one complication of having psoriasis. To help calm your mind, take time each day for self-care. It can be a simple activity like reading, or you could practice yoga or meditate.
Talk to your doctor if your anxiety is taking over your life. He or she may be able to recommend a mental health specialist to you.
Sometimes, anxiety and depression go hand in hand. If social anxiety is keeping you isolated, you may feel sad or guilty for missing out on activities with others.
This could be an early sign of depression. If you feel depressed for more than a couple of weeks, talk to your doctor about ways to manage your mental health.
People with psoriasis may be at a to develop Parkinson’s disease due to the detrimental effect of chronic inflammation on the neuronal tissue. Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects your brain. Eventually, it can cause tremors, rigid limbs, balance issues, and gait problems.
There’s no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, but early treatment can help to manage your symptoms and prevent disease progression.
Psoriasis increases your chances of getting high blood pressure. Also called hypertension, this condition significantly increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke later in life.
According to the (CDC), one in three adults in the United States have high blood pressure. It often has no symptoms. You should check your blood pressure regularly, especially if you have psoriasis.
Metabolic syndrome consists of a cluster of conditions that affect your metabolism and cardiovascular health. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high insulin levels. Psoriasis may increase your risk of metabolic syndrome. In turn, metabolic syndrome increases your risk of heart disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people with psoriasis have double the risk of developing CVD. The two major risk factors are:
- being previously diagnosed with metabolic syndrome as a complication of your psoriasis
- being diagnosed with severe psoriasis early in life
Another possible risk factor could be the psoriasis medication you're taking. These drugs can be quite taxing on your heart. They can also increase your heart rate and cholesterol levels.
Psoriasis can also increase your insulin levels and eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. This means your body has become insulin resistant and can no longer convert glucose to energy. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher in cases of severe psoriasis.
Psoriasis may also increase your chances of developing obesity. One theory is that psoriasis tends to make you less active, which can increase your body weight over time.
Another theory has to do with the inflammation connected to obesity. In this case, it's believed that obesity comes first, and that the same inflammation later leads to psoriasis.
Psoriasis can increase your risk of kidney disease, especially if your condition is moderate or severe. The kidneys are responsible for filtering and removing wastes from the body. When they don’t function properly, these wastes can build up in your body.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, other risk factors include being age 60 or older, having high blood pressure or diabetes, or having a family history of kidney disease.
Since psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, having it can increase your risk of getting other autoimmune diseases, besides PsA. These include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Genetics and lifestyle factors can also play a role in the development of psoriasis complications. If there’s a disease that runs in your family, like high cholesterol, early detection is key to getting you the treatment you need to manage the condition.
You can also reduce your risk of psoriasis-related complications by staying as active as you can, managing stress, and eating a healthy diet. Quitting alcohol and smoking are other lifestyle choices that can help prevent your psoriasis from worsening.
Just because you have psoriasis, it doesn't mean you'll develop one of the above complications. The best thing you can do is stay on top of your psoriasis treatment. If you start experiencing more frequent of severe flare-ups, it might be a sign you should talk to your doctor about trying a new medication.