What other health problems are associated with plaque psoriasis?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Having plaque psoriasis may increase the risk of developing other serious illnesses. Studies have shown that someone with this disorder may be at greater risk for getting cancer (particularly skin cancer), heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (like Crohn's disease), and high blood pressure. Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.There also seems to be a connection between psoriasis and obesity, as well as other metabolic disorders. Depression is also linked to psoriasis. These increased risks make it essential to work with your health care providers on prevention and treatment to lower the possibility of developing other illnesses.

Part of the reason that plaque psoriasis can affect your daily life is because it’s usually a package deal: It comes with other diseases. While this is not always the case, up to 30 percent of those who suffer from psoriasis may also have psoriatic arthritis. Inflammatory bowel diseases have been known to co-occur, too, including ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Other problems include high blood pressure and other heart conditions, diabetes, obesity, depression or cancer. See your doctor routinely, and let him or her know about any changes to your condition, or any new conditions you may have developed. Keeping them in check can make a huge difference in your quality of life.

Plaque psoriasis can cause problems in other parts of the body, not just the skin. For some people with psoriasis, when the immune system attacks, it can make a joint feel painful, stiff and hard to move. This is called arthritis.

Some people with psoriasis can have Crohn’s disease, which affects your digestive system. It makes your belly sore and causes problems going to the bathroom. Too much fat around the belly is another common problem in kids and teenagers who have psoriasis. It can lead to other health issues, like narrow blood vessels and heart problems, especially if the psoriasis is severe. That’s why it is important to watch your weight.

Dr. Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Practitioner

If you have plaque psoriasis, you may have an increased risk of getting another serious health condition. Having plaque psoriasis and a co-occurring disease can add a further burden to your life. Some chronic, serious health conditions that may happen with plaque psoriasis include diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease (IBC).

If you have severe plaque psoriasis, you have a higher risk of getting psoriatic arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, obesity and other auto-immune diseases such as Crohn's disease. Evidently, the risk of getting a co-occurring disease with plaque psoriasis is increased if the person is middle aged (40s and 50s) and has severe plaque psoriasis.

To reduce the risk of chronic health conditions associated with plaque psoriasis, you can change your lifestyle habits, including maintaining a healthy weight, lowering your stress and stopping cigarette smoking.

There are other serious health problems associated with psoriasis:

  • People with psoriasis are 3.8 to 7.5 times more likely than the general population to develop Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Psoriasis puts you at higher risk for lymphoma, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
  • Psoriasis, like any other chronic disease, can be stressful and increase the risk and rate of depression, suicide, smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • About 40 percent of people with psoriasis experience joint inflammation that produces arthritis-like symptoms, a condition known as psoriatic arthritis.

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Dr. Mark W. Moronell, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Individuals with psoriasis are at an elevated risk to develop other chronic and serious health conditions such as heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and diabetes. People with severe psoriasis have an elevated risk of heart attack. Learn more about the other conditions, or “comorbidities,” associated with psoriasis.

A number of studies have found an increased risk of certain types of cancer in psoriasis patients, such as skin cancer forms known as squamous cell carcinoma and lymphoma. In some instances, these cancers have been associated with specific psoriasis treatments, which suppress the immune system. Patients should follow recommended regular health screenings for cancer and avoid high-risk behaviors.

Psoriatic arthritis is a specific type of arthritis that has been diagnosed in approximately 10 to 30 percent of people who have psoriasis. In psoriatic arthritis, the joints and the soft tissue around them become inflamed and stiff. Psoriatic arthritis can affect the fingers and toes and may involve the, neck, lower back, knees and ankles. In severe cases, psoriatic arthritis can be disabling and cause irreversible damage to joints.

Depression can hit people with psoriasis hard. One study estimates that about one-fourth (24 percent) of people living with psoriasis suffer from depression. The good news is that you do not have to feel sad or hopeless because there are treatment options.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.