The inflammation that occurs when you have psoriasis isn’t always limited to the skin. Other parts of the body can be affected too, which can lead to other health concerns alongside psoriasis.
Psoriasis is caused when your immune system mistakenly attacks the cells and tissues in your skin. This leads to the itchiness, dryness, and discoloration that are characteristic of psoriasis.
Read on for answers to commonly asked questions about the link between psoriasis and other chronic health conditions, including the potential signs and symptoms to be aware of.
Chronic inflammation that causes psoriasis can increase the likelihood of developing other complications. Your other organs can be affected as well, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, including the:
- digestive system
Chronic inflammation in psoriasis can increase the likelihood of developing risk factors that contribute to heart disease.
Inflammation can also affect the cells lining your blood vessels, just as it affects skin cells, which can change blood flow.
As a result, people with psoriasis are more likely to develop certain types of heart disease, including:
- atherosclerosis, or a buildup of plaque in the arteries
- heart attack
- heart failure
- arrhythmia, or an irregular heart rate
Up to one-third of people with psoriasis also experience psoriatic arthritis, a painful inflammatory joint condition characterized by swelling and stiffness.
Other joint diseases are also common, including rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of health conditions that occur when your metabolism is disrupted. This can increase the likelihood of developing other serious health concerns, including diabetes and heart disease.
Psoriasis has been linked to many factors related to metabolic syndrome, including:
- changes in blood lipid levels, such as high cholesterol
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- insulin resistance
Metabolic syndrome and obesity are especially common concerns in children with psoriasis.
People with psoriasis have been found to be more likely to develop certain kinds of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as:
- Crohn’s disease
- ulcerative colitis
Psoriasis can also increase the likelihood of developing nonalcoholic forms of liver disease. These include:
- nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Psoriasis has been found to increase your likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease.
The link between psoriasis and kidney disease has been found to increase in a dose-dependent way with psoriasis severity. That is, the worse your psoriasis symptoms are, the more likely it is you’ll develop chronic kidney disease.
Changes to the immune system due to psoriasis can affect how bacteria are able to grow in your mouth. This may explain the association between psoriasis and dental diseases like periodontitis, a serious gum infection.
Mental health conditions
Symptoms of psoriasis, which can be painful and isolating at times, can affect a person’s mental health. People with psoriasis have been found to be more likely to experience:
- suicidal thoughts
Other health concerns
People with psoriasis may also be more likely to have:
- sleep apnea
- neurological conditions, including migraine and multiple sclerosis
- lung disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- eye diseases, including retinal detachment, retinopathy, and uveitis
- infections in the skin, airways, or digestive system
- some types of cancer
Many other skin conditions share characteristics with plaque psoriasis and can look similar. These conditions all commonly affect the limbs, particularly the elbows and knees. They include:
- lichen planus
- atopic dermatitis (eczema)
- nummular eczema
- pityriasis lichenoides chronica
Many of the conditions that commonly occur alongside psoriasis have mild symptoms at first or may only be detectable with testing.
If you have psoriasis, it’s important to have regular bloodwork done to monitor your health and notice any complications. This helps your care team catch anything abnormal early on. In some cases, conditions can be managed with simple lifestyle changes if they’re detected early enough.
You might begin to experience changes in your health when you have another condition. Talk with your healthcare team if you notice any possible symptoms, such as:
- mood changes
- digestive issues
- weight gain or loss
- pain or stiffness in the joints
- swollen or bleeding gums
- changes in your eyes or vision
Psoriasis is considered an autoimmune disease. That means that your body’s immune system mistakenly starts attacking its own tissues instead of just invaders, such as bacteria or viruses.
When this occurs in the skin, the result can be psoriasis. But these immune responses can happen all throughout the body. As a result, psoriasis could suggest that other autoimmune conditions may be occurring or occur in the future.
In this way, psoriasis isn’t a direct symptom of another condition, but it could suggest to your healthcare team that there may be more going on in your body.
Psoriasis doesn’t cause other autoimmune diseases, but similar things may trigger them.
Some experts have suggested that the factors that drive chronic inflammation in psoriasis, including genes and different immune cells, are very similar among autoimmune conditions.
This could mean that once psoriasis begins to develop in a person’s body, they may already be at or close to the point where they’ll develop another autoimmune condition.
Other autoimmune disorders that are common in people with psoriasis include:
- autoimmune skin diseases, such as vitiligo
- alopecia areata (hair loss)
- thyroid disease
- type 1 diabetes
- inflammatory arthritis, including psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- IBD, particularly Crohn’s disease
According to an analysis of several studies that included over 2 million participants, cancer is
Some cancers found to be
- nonmelanoma skin cancer, particularly keratinocyte cancer
- lung cancer
- bladder cancer
Cancer may result from chronic inflammation and disrupted immune responses in psoriasis, especially when the psoriasis is severe. There is also some
Additional health concerns are common with psoriasis. They can include both physical conditions, like arthritis, and mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety.
If you have psoriasis, it’s important to pay attention to any problematic changes in your health, and report them to your healthcare team. Regular bloodwork can also help detect changes that may not be causing symptoms yet and lower your risk for complications.
If you have any concerns about your health, speak with your healthcare team about steps to take to help prevent complications from psoriasis.