Psoriasis… and Your General Health

As the colder and drier weather approaches, many individuals will notice a worsening of their skin conditions. Those who deal with psoriasis often notice a quite substantial worsening of their symptoms. Psoriasis is an inherited condition which can affect the skin, joints, and potentially other organ systems. Although psoriasis of the skin has traditionally been viewed as a troublesome but otherwise benign condition, experts are now learning that psoriasis needs to be evaluated with a more critical eye with respect to general health status.

In the skin, psoriasis usually produces thickened, itchy and scaly plaques. Involved areas of skin are also often very red and inflamed. This is due to inappropriate activation of the immune system. Normally, the immune system serves to protect us from disease-causing microorganisms. However, those with psoriasis may harbor a tendency toward excessive inflammation. Generally, inflammation in the skin is clearly visible, but inflammation that occurs internally may be unnoticed.

Recently, by studying large groups of people over many years, researchers have uncovered a statistically significant link between a diagnosis of psoriasis and increased risk of heart disease. In fact, the data even showed a correlation between severity of psoriasis in the skin and degree of increased risk of heart disease. Those individuals with more severe psoriasis had an even greater relative risk of heart disease when compared to those with milder psoriasis. Although this information does not imply that psoriasis causes heart disease, it does make medical experts wonder if the diagnosis of psoriasis in a patient should be thought of as a risk factor for the development of heart disease.

The next natural question is whether patients with active psoriasis can decrease their relative risk of developing heart disease by treating their psoriasis. If it is found that treating psoriasis lessens the relative risk of developing heart disease, then healthcare providers will need to take a fresh look at psoriasis treatment. Until this question is further explored and ultimately answered, it may be prudent for healthcare providers to be more proactive with psoriasis treatment. Certainly most people with psoriasis seek medical treatment to alleviate their skin symptoms, but if treating psoriasis can improve one’s general health status, then the battle against psoriasis needs to be taken to a higher level.

At Advanced Dermatology, we utilize all of the most current medications in the treatment of psoriasis as well as the XTrac laser. If you think you may have psoriasis and would like to be evaluated, please call Advanced Dermatology for an appointment with one of our providers.