Psoriasis

Conditions and complications associated with psoriasis

There are a number of health conditions and complications associated with psoriasis. Some young people had heard of some psoriasis complications or experienced them, but other people weren’t aware of them. The main ones people talked about are discussed in more detail below, such as psoriatic arthritis, infections and mental health impacts. 

There are other possible conditions which can be associated with psoriasis too. Sometimes the association between psoriasis and another health condition is due to similar types of inflammation (swelling) as seen in the skin, such as arthritis in the joints. Some people who have psoriasis are at increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular (heart) disease. Healthy eating and exercise can help lower this risk. However, there may be many factors involved in the links between psoriasis and other health conditions and it is an area of active research.

Psoriatic arthritis 

Psoriatic arthritis (sometimes shortened to PA or PsA) can make the joints swollen, stiff and painful. Not everyone who has psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis and not everyone who has psoriatic arthritis will have the skin condition, but the chances are higher. The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can change and be worse at certain times, but better at others.
Some people we talked to were unaware that psoriasis is linked with a form of arthritis. Instead, they thought of psoriasis as affecting only the skin surface and, for some, mental health. For those who knew about psoriatic arthritis, the news had often shocked them. Lola learnt about psoriatic arthritis and increased risks of heart disease only recently through internet searches. Finding out about these put Lola off and she “stopped looking so much” online.

No one we talked to had been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, but a few had experienced difficulties with their joints and thought it was a possible explanation. Sofia has clicking joints but isn’t worried about it at the moment. There was uncertainty for some about whether they would develop psoriatic arthritis in the future. A few people knew of others with psoriatic arthritis and were aware of the impact it can have in terms of pain and mobility.
Infections

A few people remembered times when their psoriasis had been infected. This was especially a concern for Zara, whose psoriasis is on her feet and so she had to wear trainers when doing gymnastics because of the “bugs on the floor”. Going to public swimming pools and walking barefoot on grass was also a worry for Zara. She had to stop her Duke of Edinburgh Award because it was too much to walk all day and not be able to properly wash her feet afterwards. The psoriasis on Lola’s scalp became infected once, causing her lymph glands to swell. Others hadn’t had infected psoriasis but knew it was a worry when the skin was broken.
Mental health

For some, having psoriasis had a negative impact on their mental health. This includes those who experienced depression and anxiety. You can find out more in these sections about the impact of psoriasis on mental health and support.
Other complications/health issues

A few people had complications with their hair from having psoriasis on the scalp. This included hair loss and thinning for Megan and Sofia, because the psoriasis built up and weakened their hair follicles or pulled out the hairs. Lucy and Carys also found that “clumps” of hair would sometimes come out.
Psoriasis built up in Ella’s ear canals when she was younger, causing some temporary hearing loss and earaches.
Some people found their psoriasis interacted with other health conditions they had, such as:
  • acne: Lucy and Ella found their psoriasis interacted with their acne as acne-treatments can make the psoriasis worse and vice versa
  • health conditions which add stress: this includes Zara’s epilepsy and Abbie’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome (see also sections on triggers)
  • hay fever: Lucy takes antihistamines for hay fever and pointed out the benefit that they help reduce the itchiness of her psoriasis.
Hannah pointed out that she can’t have live (attenuated) vaccinations whilst on biological injections.
A couple of people had emergency hospitals visits and stays. Emergency hospital visits are different to ‘normal’ appointments with a dermatologist and happen when there is a serious problem, such as a serious infection or heavy bleeding. Ella and Zara had been admitted to hospital for emergencies with their psoriasis when they were very young.
There’s also information about some additional health aspects related to psoriasis in other sections, such as: 

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