Can Leaving Your Psoriasis Untreated Hinder You?

The health risks associated with untreated psoriasis

Patient Expert

As a young 20-something-year-old with psoriasis, my biggest priority was finding a treatment that would rid my body of psoriasis by 100 percent so that I could wear cute shorts, skirts, and tank tops without being questioned, stared at, or stigmatized. I wanted to break free from the emotional shackles psoriasis caused in my life. I was tired of the flaky, itchy, patchy psoriasis which plagued my skin.

However, a decade later, I’ve learned leaving your psoriasis untreated is much more dangerous than not being able to wear cute shorts. Putting off treatment can truly hinder your quality of life and health.

There are people who assume psoriasis is a cosmetic issue — a superficial problem a little lotion and a healthy diet can fix. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Psoriasis is caused by an overreactive immune system. This system runs through the entire body, affecting all the other systems and parts of the body in addition to the skin. Psoriasis, then, increases a person’s risk for other chronic health conditions. Here are just a few reasons why leaving your psoriasis untreated can hinder you.

1. You are more susceptible for depression

According to some research, people who have psoriasis have an increase of cytokines, immune proteins of the body responsible for cell signaling among cells. Cytokines basically tell immune cells when to react or to stand down. Since psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune system, the boost of cytokines makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, studies reveal when there is an increase of cytokines in an individual, there will also be a higher likelihood of depression. Therefore, going without treating your disease increases your risk to depression and suicide.

2. You are more susceptible for progressive joint damage

The National Psoriasis Foundation reports up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develops psoriatic arthritis (PsA). The best way to tackle and prevent arthritis is by treating your disease before you start experiencing joint pain or, at the very least, in the early stages. PsA is a debilitating stage of psoriasis that can have a severe impact on a person’s quality of life, rendering some people immobile or dependent on adaptive tools. Not treating could also lead to irreversible joint damage. Treating your disease decreases the progression of the disease involving joint damage.

3. You are more susceptible for cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for people living with PsA, reports the NPF. The increase is due to the full body inflammation psoriasis causes. Having psoriasis makes one more susceptible to metabolic syndrome, which means a person has high blood pressure, imbalanced blood sugars, and high cholesterol. These challenges can lead to an increase chance of a heart attack or stroke.

Find a treatment which works

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the high rate of comorbidities associated with psoriasis can substantially reduce life expectancy. Additionally, leaving your condition untreated may cause a lackluster quality of life.  Finding a treatment for psoriasis that actually works can be a frustrating task, but you can’t give up. Your life and quality of it literally depends on it.