As many as 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF). This autoimmune disease causes raised, red, scaly, itchy patches to appear on the skin and can be a debilitating condition. But while the itch and red patches can often be managed with topical creams and medications, some “silent” symptoms of psoriasis are the most dangerous. A growing body of research has shown people with psoriasis are at an increased risk of developing other chronic and serious health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Here’s the breakdown:
High blood pressure and cholesterol – In a 2011 study at the University of California Davis, dermatologists found that people with psoriasis have a harder time controlling their high blood pressure and needed more medication to control their hypertension than people without the skin condition. Researchers also found that people with psoriasis are more likely to have high cholesterol.
Heart disease – People with severe psoriasis are 58 percent more likely to have a major cardiac event and 43 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to research. A 2012 study funded by the NFP showed that inflammation over large areas of the body caused by psoriasis can lead to inflammation in major arteries, such as the aorta. Combined with increased risk factors for high blood pressure and cholesterol, the risk of heart attack is significantly increased. The good news is that aggressive treatment of psoriasis can lead to a significant decrease in the risk for developing heart disease.
Diabetes – A 2012 study published in the Archives of Dermatology found that people with severe psoriasis are also 46 percent more likely to have type 2 diabetes and those with mild psoriasis have an 11 percent increased risk of developing diabetes. The connection was true even in the absence of traditional diabetes risk factors, such as obesity. However, obesity is also a risk factor for psoriasis, so maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular diabetes screenings are important preventive measures for people with psoriasis.
Cancer – Research has also shown a connection between psoriasis and certain types of cancer, such as a squamous cell carcinoma (a form of skin cancer) and lymphoma. The exact link between psoriasis and cancer is still unknown, but some scientists believe some medications used to treat psoriasis could be the culprit. Talk to a dermatologist about your overall health and risk factors to ensure the best treatment for your needs is prescribed.
Depression – About one-quarter of people with psoriasis suffer from depression as a result of the emotional distress caused by the embarrassing skin condition. In fact, the NPF says people with psoriasis are twice as likely to become depressed as the rest of the population. Studies have shown that treating psoriasis can alleviate the symptoms of depression.
With proper treatment and healthy lifestyle choices, people with psoriasis can prevent more serious health problems. If you suffer from psoriasis, talk to your dermatologist about what you can do to reduce your risk of developing these deadly conditions. Call Greenville Dermatology at 864-242-5872 to schedule an appointment today.