Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder most commonly associated with scaly, rashy, and itchy skin. Psoriasis is common and affects almost eight million adults in the United States. Although psoriasis can’t be cured at this time, various treatment strategies help keep you comfortable and reduce your risk for complications.
Our expert dermatologists at Specialists in Dermatology diagnose and treat psoriasis at their offices in Houston, Texas, or The Woodlands, Texas. Following are some of the complications of psoriasis with which you may struggle now or in the future.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a common complication of psoriasis, affecting almost one third of people who have this autoimmune disorder. If you have PsA, your symptoms are more like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — which is another autoimmune disorder — rather than osteoarthritis (OA), which is a wear-and-tear disease. Signs that you have PsA include:
- Stiff, painful joints
- Swollen, misshapen fingers and toes
- Deformed toenails and fingernails
- Painful, sore feet
Even if your joints feel painful when you move, you should work with your doctor to devise an exercise and activity plan that keeps you active and mobile. Using your joints helps them stay healthier. Without treatment, PsA can permanently deform your joints.
If you develop PsA, you may also experience problems with your eyes, including your vision. Researchers suspect that the inflammatory state that causes psoriasis and PsA also affects your eyes, causing symptoms such as:
- Red eyes
- Blurry vision
- Asymmetrical pupils
- Teary eyes
- Sensitivity to light
You may experience symptoms in one or both eyes. Without treatment, psoriasis-related eye problems could become permanent and lead to loss of vision.
If you have scalp psoriasis, an unwelcome complication may be hair loss. In addition to an itchy, scaly scalp, you may lose clumps of hair at a time, even within days.
Though it’s relatively easy to hide scaly, red patches of skin on your body with clothing, it isn’t so easy to hide lesions on your scalp, nor is it easy to camouflage profound hair loss. Wearing wigs and hats is an option, but may not always be comfortable, particularly in warmer months.
The National Psoriasis Foundation offers peer support groups. Support helps you deal with the emotional ramifications of psoriasis and its complications, including hair loss.
Increased risk for cancer and other diseases
If you have psoriasis, you’re at greater risk for lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of your immune system, which is likely why it’s affected by an autoimmune disease. Your weakened and stressed immune system also increases your risk of developing:
- Cardiovascular and ischemic heart disease
- Mitral valve prolapse
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Some disease risk may be correlated with ethnicity, lifestyle, and other factors. For instance, Caucasians with psoriasis have an increased risk for IBD, but Asians with psoriasis have a negative risk. Some of the increased risk for lymphoma may be related to the drugs used to treat psoriasis rather than to the disease itself.
Anxiety and depression
The daily stress of living with an incurable autoimmune disease takes a toll on your mental health as well as your physical health. In addition to getting treatment for your psoriasis, consider counseling and other self-care strategies to help you cope with the emotional aspects of dealing with your disease.
Treating psoriasis helps alleviate many of the most upsetting symptoms and reduces the risk for complications. If you have psoriasis, we diagnose the full extent of your disease and then devise a customized treatment plan to help you feel and function better.
Feel more comfortable and reduce your risk for psoriasis complications by getting the tailored treatment you deserve today. Contact us at Specialists in Dermatology by phoning the office nearest you or using our online form.