Psoriasis is a chronic disease that results in undesirable changes of the skin, including the development of thick, itchy, dry patches of skin. Psoriasis is thought to be caused by problems with the immune system. Specifically, overactive T cells mistakenly attack healthy skin cells and instigate other immune responses. Although your dermatologist can recommend effective psoriasis treatment options, it’s important to be aware that psoriasis can also increase your risk of additional autoimmune diseases.
Understanding Autoimmune Conditions
Autoimmune diseases can be particularly frustrating for patients because their immune systems—which are supposed to keep patients healthy—actually cause health problems. Normally, the function of the immune system is to detect and attack foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. When a patient has an autoimmune disease, the immune system goes into “attack mode” despite the absence of pathogens. Instead, the immune system fights healthy body tissues like the skin and joints. The immune system accomplishes this by triggering an inflammatory response. In people with psoriasis, this inflammatory response manifests as skin plaques.
Identifying the Risks of Psoriasis
Sometimes, having one disease or condition can place a person at an increased risk of developing additional health problems. Just as having diabetes can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, having psoriasis can increase the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases. One of the most significant of these is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which attacks the joints. Celiac disease, alopecia areata, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, and lupus are other possible risks for patients with psoriasis.
Facilitating Early Detection
Because of the increased risk of additional health problems, it’s important for patients with psoriasis to be aware of the early symptoms of diseases like RA, even if they are currently receiving psoriasis treatment. RA is a particularly serious disease that causes painful swelling, bone erosion, and joint deformity. It can also damage the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and eyes. Patients with psoriasis who also develop fatigue, fever, unexplained weight loss, and joint pain and stiffness can consult their doctors to find out if they should be tested for RA.
For effective psoriasis treatments in Arlington Heights, patients have long trusted Arlington Dermatology. Our dermatologist also works with patients who have rosacea, eczema, and all other skin conditions. You can request your appointment by calling 847-392-5440 and speaking with a friendly staff member.