Myth: Psoriasis Is Only a Skin Problem
Psoriasis is predominantly regarded as a skin disease because of the outward clinical presentation of the condition. However, psoriasis is a disorder of the immune system and its damage may be more than skin deep.
Psoriasis commonly presents on the skin and nails, but a growing body of evidence has suggested that psoriasis is associated with systemic comorbidities. Up to 25% of psoriasis patients develop joint inflammation, and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) may precede skin involvement. There also is a risk for cardiovascular complications. Because of the emotional distress caused by psoriasis, patients may develop psychosocial disorders. Other conditions in patients with psoriasis include diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, Crohn disease, and the metabolic syndrome.
Results from surveys conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation from 2003 to 2011 found that the diagnosis of psoriasis preceded PsA in the majority of patients by a mean period of 14.6 years. Patients with moderate to severe psoriasis were more likely to develop PsA than patients with mild psoriasis. Furthermore, patients with severe psoriasis were more likely to develop diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.
In a Cutis editorial , Dr. Jeffrey Weinberg emphasizes that the role of the dermatologist “is to identify and educate patients with psoriasis who are at risk of systemic complications and ensure appropriate follow-up for their treatment and overall health.” An infographic created by the American Academy of Dermatology illustrates areas of the body that may be impacted by psoriasis beyond the skin; for example, patients may develop eye problems, weight gain, or mood changes. Consider distributing this infographic to patients to show how psoriasis can affect more than their skin.
More Cutis content is available on psoriasis comorbidities: