Psoriasis & Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic disease (PD) is a lifelong condition that includes psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are caused by an overactive immune system, which is called an autoimmune disease. Psoriasis involves the immune system mistakenly signaling the body to make skin cells too quickly. This rapid build-up of skin cells can result in scaly patches or plaques, pustules, redness, and swelling, as well as inflammation.
There are several types of psoriasis:
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. Those with plaque psoriasis often experience raised, silvery scaled patches of skin (called plaques) that can be itchy and painful. Plaque psoriasis most often occurs on elbows, knees, hands, lower back, and the scalp.
Inverse psoriasis is the second most common type of psoriasis. With inverse psoriasis the skin becomes smooth, deep red, and inflamed. Inverse psoriasis most commonly affects body folds, like armpits, under the breasts, and around the genitals.
Guttate psoriasis is the third most common type of psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis causes small, round, red spots that are raised and scaly. Guttate psoriasis commonly happens on the arms, legs, stomach and chest.
Pustular psoriasis is a rarer form and appears as painful, pus-filled bumps that may be surrounded by inflamed skin.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is the rarest and most serious form of psoriasis and can be life-threatening. Erythrodermic psoriasis causes intense redness, pain and itching. This type of psoriasis can also cause the skin to shed in large sheets. Other serious side effects of erythrodermic psoriasis include dehydration, changes in heart rate and temperature, as well as nail changes.
Another element of psoriatic disease is psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis occurs in about one-third of people with psoriasis and most people develop psoriasis before having symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the joints and areas where tendons and ligaments connect to bone. This results in pain, swelling, stiffness and inflammation in these areas. Psoriatic arthritis can vary from person to person. It’s important that it be treated because untreated psoriatic arthritis can lead to permanent joint damage. Psoriatic arthritis can change over time and affect different areas of the body. Common areas include fingers, toes, elbows, knees, and the spine.
- Psoriatic Disease
- There are five different types of psoriasis: plaque, inverse, guttate, pustular, and erythrodermic. Psoriatic arthritis causes swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints. Common areas include hands, fingers, feet, toes, spine, and hips.
- Psoriasis can be mild, moderate, or severe and causes scaly, dry, or cracked areas of the skin. It can lead to itching, burning, or soreness. Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body including the mouth, lips, hands, and feet.
- Psoriatic disease may cause changes in fingernails, such as nail separation from nail bed.
- Untreated psoriatic arthritis may result in permanent joint damage.
- Psoriatic disease is linked with other diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or depression.
How Nutrition is Affected
- Standing for long periods of time or using hands to prepare meals can become painful and challenging. This can lead to low nutrient intake.
- When psoriasis affects the mouth and lips, chewing and swallowing can become challenging or painful. This can lead to low nutrient intake.
- Challenges with cooking and preparing food may alter nutrient intake.
- Permanent joint damage can impair the ability to grocery shop, prepare meals, and properly nourish the body. Over time, this may lead to nutritional deficiencies.
- Some medications can impact how the body uses and absorbs vitamins and minerals. Talk with your healthcare provider, pharmacist or registered dietitian for more information.
- Talk with a registered dietitian about nutritional strategies to reduce the risk, or manage, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression.
The symptoms of psoriatic disease can vary from person to person. Symptoms may also differ based on the type of psoriasis a person has and if psoriatic arthritis is present. About 1 in 3 people with psoriasis will also develop psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms for both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can develop slowly and be mild or develop quickly and be quite severe.
To better understand your symptoms, it’s important to discuss any changes or new symptoms with your care provider. See table for more details.
To track your symptoms with certain foods and nutrients, download the Food and Symptom Tracker:
- Psoriatic Disease Symptoms
- Plaque psoriasis: Inflammation, pain and itchiness; appears as raised, silvery plaques or scales
- Inverse psoriasis: Inflammation, pain, and itchiness; affects body folds (armpits, under breasts, genitals, buttocks); appears as smooth, shiny, dark-red skin
- Guttate psoriasis: Inflammation; typically occurs on the legs, arms, and torso; appears as raised scales and small, round, red spots
- Pustular psoriasis: Inflammation and pain; appears as pus-filled bumps and red skin
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: Severe itchiness, pain, and intense redness; shedding of skin in large sheets; heart-rate changes, temperature changes, dehydration, and nail changes
Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms
- Pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints
- Common areas affected include fingers, toes, elbows, knees, and the spine
- Joint damage (if left untreated)
- Nail changes (nail separation from nail bed, pitting, discoloration)
Understanding Your Medications
Getting a diagnosis can be overwhelming, especially if you need complicated care. Along with good nutrition, taking your prescribed medication as directed is an important part of a successful treatment plan. The Meijer Specialty Pharmacy care team is here for you every step of the way. Our pharmacists are available 24/7 to answer questions and to help you get the most out of your medication.
Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis are chronic, autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune conditions happen when your immune system mistakenly attacks some of your own cells, causing damage. In psoriasis, this attack happens in your skin, causing skin cells to build up on the surface of the skin. This leads to raised bumps and patches of skin (called plaques) that are often itchy and painful. Some people with psoriasis may go on to develop psoriatic arthritis, which happens when the immune system attacks your joints. All of the medications used to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis work by either targeting the cells that are wrongly attacking your body or by decreasing the inflammation that happens after the attack.
Biologic medications work by blocking specific immune system cells so they can’t attack your skin or joints. When these immune cells are blocked, there is less inflammation and you experience less symptoms.