8 Ways Treating Psoriasis Can Improve Overall Health
- Psoriasis treatment may help much more than just your skin.Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes extra skin cells to pile up on the surface of your skin and form leathery plaques and patches. It’s fairly common, but coping with it can be challenging. Adding to the challenge is the reality that people with psoriasis are more predisposed to other hard-to-manage health conditions, like depression and cardiovascular disease. Experts suggest that understanding how psoriasis affects your health and treating your psoriasis may actually help you better manage those other health conditions.
One caveat: experts aren’t completely sure if psoriasis causes an increased risk of some diseases or conditions–or if it’s the other way around. But the association is enough for them to encourage people to seek treatment for their psoriasis in the hopes it may help those other health conditions, too.
- 1. You can improve your heart health.Having psoriasis significantly increases your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, like stroke or a cardiac event. However, treating your psoriasis with certain kinds of medications can decrease that risk. Research shows systemic psoriasis treatments, like TNF-alpha inhibitors, can reduce your chances of experiencing a heart attack or other type of cardiovascular event.
- 2. You can support your mental health.Depression and anxiety are very common companions of psoriasis. In fact, many people with psoriasis develop depression–and people with psoriatic arthritis have even higher rates of depression. But some research shows that effectively treating your psoriasis can also benefit your brain, your mood, and your overall perceptions of your quality of life.
- 3. You could boost your bone health.Has your doctor asked you to get a bone density test? If so, that’s because there’s a link between psoriasis and osteoporosis, a progressive condition in which your bones become more porous and more fragile. The longer you have psoriasis, the greater your chances of developing osteopenia, which is an early stage of osteoporosis. And osteopenia can progress to osteoporosis, putting you at risk for fractured bones. If you get your psoriasis under control, you can stave off the development of osteopenia.
- 4. You could improve your eye health.You may be more fixated on the appearance of your skin than focused on the health of your eyes. But psoriasis is also a risk factor for an eye disease called uveitis, which causes inflammation in the eye and, if left unaddressed, can lead to vision loss. If you’re aware of the connection, you can be more vigilant about getting your eyes checked on a regular basis.
- 5. You could spice up your sexual health.Some people with psoriasis, especially if it’s moderate to severe in the genital area, shy away from sex. Indeed, psoriasis can and often does have an impact on sexual enjoyment and sexual function, including erectile dysfunction in men. However, treatment for the physical symptoms of psoriasis that can make sex painful or uncomfortable can go a long way toward improving the situation. Your doctor might suggest trying a topical treatment first, but if that isn’t effective, research suggests that newer biologic treatments hold a lot of promise.
- 6. You could strengthen your relationships.If you’re worried about your appearance, you may withdraw from people and social situations. Your psoriasis can interfere with your desire or ability to nurture your relationships with other people. Finding a good psoriasis treatment that works for you may help you regain the confidence you need to connect–or reconnect–with your support network.
- 7. You could get to a healthy weight.Several studies suggest losing weight can potentially help with psoriasis. The theory: getting regular exercise and eating a low-calorie, healthy diet can help you lose weight. That weight loss can reduce inflammation, which is a hallmark of psoriasis. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can also help you better manage other chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes. However, the current research looked at people who exercised vigorously, so you may want to bump up the intensity of your workout to see if it makes a difference. Talk to your doctor about the best exercise plan for you.
- 8. You could improve your bowel health.People with psoriasis have a greater chance of developing inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Immunosuppressive drugs are sometimes prescribed to treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. As it turns out, these medications have also been shown to address some of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.