What Psoriasis Skin Disease Does to Your Body: Have You These changes?

Scalp Psoriasis:  In at least half of the people who have Psoriasis skin disease, 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 disease can be very itchy. Using a medicated shampoo may help with scalp psoriasis.

Be prepared for flare-ups: Having a long-term disease that can flare up unpredictably can be frightening. But knowledge is power, so the more you know about the possible effects of this disease, the better prepared you will be to handle flare-ups and possibly prevent other health issues.

Psoriasis Skin Plaques: The most common sign of this disease is a psoriasis plaque, a raised, red skin patch covered by a silvery-white coating. Eight out of 10 people with this disease 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.

Nail Changes: As many as half of all people with this disease 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.

Swollen and Painful Joints: About one in twenty people with this disease 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.

Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Stroke: Psoriasis skin disease 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 this disease 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.

Depression and Other Emotional Issues: Having Psoriasis skin disease can be stressful. Studies show that people with Psoriasis skin disease 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 skin disease.