Up to 30% of people with psoriasis eventually develop PsA.
Around 30 percent of people with psoriasis also live with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Because these conditions so often occur together, the two are collectively called psoriatic disease.
If you have psoriasis, it’s important to know the symptoms of PsA. That’s because PsA can lead to joint damage and other complications that may really affect your quality of life and overall health. By recognizing the signs early, you can start treatment, reduce joint pain, and prevent complications.
Symptoms of Psoriasis vs. Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic disease is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system is mistakenly attacking normal, healthy tissue in the body. In psoriasis, the immune system is targeting the skin. As a result, people with psoriasis may have raised, scaly plaques with a silvery sheen on the skin. These plaques appear red on white skin and purple on skin of color.
Psoriasis plaques often appear on the elbows, knees, scalp, and ears. However, certain types of psoriasis may affect other areas, like the armpits, genitals, or scalp. Plaques aren’t just a cosmetic concern: They may itch, burn, or sting.
For people with psoriasis who also develop psoriatic arthritis, the immune system starts to attack the joints as well. In particular, it attacks where the ligaments and tendons attach to the bones. Symptoms of PsA include:
- Pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints
- Stiffness that is worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity
- Restricted mobility
Getting Help for Psoriatic Disease
If you notice symptoms of psoriasis or psoriatic disease, don’t wait to talk to a doctor. Both can take a toll on your health, self-esteem, and quality of life. There are a number of treatment options for both conditions, which can help you feel better and live a normal life.
Heather Summe, MD, is a dermatologist in New York City. Dr. Summe is the Chief of the Division of Dermatology at Lenox Hill Hospital. She is also an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.
- About psoriatic arthritis. Portland, OR: National Psoriasis Foundation. (Accessed on May 21, 2021)
- Psoriatic arthritis risk factors and causes you need to know about. Creaky Joints. (Accessed on May 21, 2021)
- Understanding psoriatic disease. Portland, OR: National Psoriasis Foundation. (Accessed on May 21, 2021)