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Making the Best Choices for Your Psoriasis

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What Psoriasis Does to Your Body

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Chris Illiades, MD on October 22, 2022

Psoriasis affects more than your skin. Find out how psoriasis manifests elsewhere in the body, and the physical and mental health conditions for which it increases risk.

  • psoriasis
    Psoriasis Skin Plaques
    The most common sign of psoriasis is a psoriasis plaque, a raised, red skin patch covered by a silvery-white coating. Eight out of 10 people with psoriasis have plaques. These patches can form anywhere on your skin but are most likely to show up on your knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp. You may have several patches that join together to form a big patch. Plaques are itchy, but resist scratching them because scratching can make them become thicker.
  • man-scratching-head
    Scalp Psoriasis
    In at least half of the people who have psoriasis, the scalp is affected. Scalp psoriasis can range from mild, dandruff-like scaling to crusty plaques that extend beyond your hairline to your forehead or neck. This type of psoriasis can be very itchy. Using a medicated shampoo may help with scalp psoriasis.
  • nails with psoriasis
    Nail Changes
    As many as half of all people with psoriasis experience nail changes caused by the condition. Changes in your nails may include pitting (holes), alterations in color and shape, thickening, and separation of the nail from the nail bed. If your nails become affected, try keeping them trimmed short and protect them by wearing gloves while working with your hands.
  • Person massaging feet
    Swollen and Painful Joints
    About one in twenty people with psoriasis will have painful, stiff joints. This type of joint pain and swelling is called psoriatic arthritis. In many cases psoriatic arthritis affects only the fingers and toes. If you develop psoriatic arthritis, you will almost certainly experience nail changes. In rare cases, this form of arthritis can be severe and affect the joints in your spine as well.
  • Unseen senior woman at home holding chest in pain
    Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Stroke
    Psoriasis does not appear to directly cause any of these diseases, but it does put you at higher risk for developing them. Studies show that having psoriasis increases your risk of stroke and diabetes by about 40 percent. If you are 30 years old and you have severe psoriasis, your chances of having a heart attack are tripled. Take steps to lower your risk and protect your health by eating a heart-smart diet, getting regular exercise, and controlling your weight.
  • woman resting her head
    Depression and Other Emotional Issues
    Having psoriasis can be stressful. Studies show that people with psoriasis may have higher rates of depression and anxiety. If you feel down or overwhelmed by your psoriasis, talk with your doctor or a mental health professional and consider joining a support group. Work with your doctor on a care plan to get the best treatment, and you’ll be better equipped to handle the emotional side of psoriasis.
What Psoriasis Does to Your Body
  1. Psoriasis, American Academy of Dermatology (;
  2. Psoriasis, American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (;
  3. Psoriatic Arthritis, U.S. National Library of Medicine, NIH (;
  4. Emotions: Overcoming Depression, National Psoriasis Foundation (;
  5. Scalp Psoriasis, National Psoriasis Foundation (;
  6. Hands, Feet and Nails, National Psoriasis Foundation (;
  7. Psoriasis and Heart Disease, Psoriasis Cure Now (;
  8. Psoriasis Is Associated With Other Serious Conditions, Psoriasis Cure Now (;
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Last Review Date: 2022 Oct 22
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.