Psoriasis affects approximately 7.5 million people in the United States alone. A serious chronic condition with a host of side effects, both direct and indirect, scientists around the world have been working to uncover potential treatments and how to improve the lives of people who have it.

We’ve rounded up the most promising psoriasis research of the year.

UV-Free Blue Light Is a Safe and Effective Treatment

A study published in the journal Dermatology tested the safety and efficacy of using UV-free blue light at home for mild psoriasis treatment. While light therapy is a known treatment for psoriasis, much of it is ultraviolet (UV) light, which through prolonged exposure can cause skin cancer. Instead, this study looked at a blue light therapeutic technique that is free of UV rays. The results: Patients found it easy to comply with the home treatment and saw “significant improvement” in their psoriasis plaques.

A Link Between Psoriasis and Depression

Researchers with the American Academy of Dermatology have affirmed what has been suspected for many years — that people who have psoriasis are at a greater risk of suffering from depression. Looking at a pool of more than 12,000 people, they found that 16.5 percent of psoriasis sufferers experienced major depression — about double that of those without psoriasis. The study leader, Dr. Roger S. Ho, believes that the increased depression is likely tied to the stigma of psoriasis and societal impact of the skin disorder.

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Psoriasis Linked to Blood Vessel Inflammation

Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, as is cardiovascular disease. Researchers with the American Heart Association determined that people who have psoriasis often have higher than normal inflammation in the blood vessel tissues, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The link between heart disease and psoriasis was largely known, but it hadn’t yet been tied to blood vessel inflammation. According to the study, the more psoriasis patches that appeared on a patient’s skin, the more inflammation was seen in their blood vessels.

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A Review on the Genetic Components of Psoriasis

Psoriasis treatment and research are often focused on the disease symptoms, like the lesions or inflammation it causes, and the effectiveness of potential treatments. But what if scientists had a better idea of what actually causes psoriasis? A lengthy review published in the Journal of Autoimmunity on the role that genetics play in psoriasis posits that genetic associations and mutations may be at the root of psoriasis, and could provide the basis of future research.

Obesity Can Make Psoriasis Worse

It’s been said before, but research published in the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery affirms: The more you weigh, the worse your psoriasis may become. According to the review of nine eligible studies, seven found a “statistically significant association” between higher body mass index (BMI) and increased severity of psoriasis symptoms. Researchers concluded that dermatologists should include BMI as part of their analysis when it comes to treating patients with psoriasis, as reducing weight could reduce the severity of psoriasis symptoms.