Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease that causes red, itchy, scaly patches of skin to develop, often in areas such as the knees, elbows, abdomen, and scalp. Psoriasis is characterized as a chronic skin disease, meaning symptoms often develop during flare-ups, last for a few weeks or months, then go into remission for a period of time after.
Medical researchers have identified a link between immune system problems in psoriasis patients that cause systemic inflammation and an abnormal response to insulin. Both of these circumstances might also render patients more susceptible to developing other health conditions, such as:
1. Psoriatic arthritis
Patients with existing psoriasis are prone to developing psoriatic arthritis, which causes damage to the joints, or the soft tissues connecting bones. When arthritis sets in, these physical components often experience unpleasant symptoms like stiffness, redness, and pain. In the most severe presentations, impacted individuals might experience mobility limitations. Researchers suggest that psoriasis-driven arthritis occurs because the immune system abnormally attacks joint tissues. They also maintain that the disease could be caused by genes, physical trauma, or environmental factors.
2. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD is not a specific illness but a group of inflammatory lung diseases that impact a subject’s capacity to experience a normal flow of air through the lungs. Often diagnosed as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, patients suffer notable breathing difficulties such as wheezing, chronic cough, excess mucus, and lightheadedness. A medical study published by the U.S. Library of Medicine in 2015 found that patients with psoriasis stand at greater risk for developing COPD. Investigators cannot unequivocally state the exact reasons why; however, they found that patients with severe psoriasis have a greater risk of developing psoriatic arthritis.
Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that originates within the lymphatic system. In healthy individuals, the lymph nodes work as immune system protectors that aid the body in its fight against pathogens and other potentially hazardous invaders. Several scientific studies suggest that the immune response created by psoriasis might adversely impact lymphatic tissue, which could increase one’s chances of developing lymphoma.
4. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a condition that impacts women whose ovaries produce excessive quantities of adnrogen (or male) sex hormones. As a result, small cysts (or fluid-filled sacs) develop in the ovaries, threatening the patient’s fertility levels and causing several painful symptoms. Researchers have discovered that women with psoriasis may be at greater risk of developing PCOS due to insulin resistance. Insulin is a metabolic hormone crucial to one’s ability to process sugar. PCOS disrupts the body’s ability to carry out this function effectively. Additionally, the bodies of patients with PCOS and psoriasis also secrete proteins known to increase systemic inflammation.
Researchers have found several links between psoriasis and depression. In addition to the physical toll, patients often suffer mentally from the constant cycle of rashes and pain brought on by the condition. Scientists also believe that inflammation and low vitamin D3 and melatonin levels in both psoriasis and depression patients may contribute to one disease triggering the other.
6. Heart disease
The increased systemic inflammation resulting from psoriasis can heighten a patient’s risk of heart disease. Increased inflammation, over time, damages and narrows blood vessels inside and surrounding the heart. This could increase the risk for potentially fatal events like a heart attack or stroke.
Fortunately, psoriasis treatment can help reduce the frequency of flare ups as well as the severity of symptoms. The specific treatment a healthcare provider prescribes will depend on the condition’s severity. Commonly prescribed treatments include psoriasis cream that’s applied topically to slow the overpopulation of abnormal skin cells, light therapy, and the use of certain oral and injection-driven medications.