"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

COVID-19 and psoriasis: Is there a connection?

April 19, 2023 – New research sheds light on how COVID-19 infection can reactivate and even cause psoriasis.

The skin disease affects about 7.5 million adults within the United States, in keeping with the National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriasis has several known triggers, including stress, skin injury, cold or warm air, and allergies. Illnesses like strep throat may also trigger a psoriasis flare-up in some people — and it seems that COVID may do the identical.

“Psoriasis flare-ups have long been associated with bacterial and viral infections, particularly a form of psoriasis called guttate, which is characterized by masses of small red, scaly bumps all over the body,” said Joel M. Gelfand, MD, Professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology on the Perelman School of Medicine on the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “COVID-19 infection has been associated in many published case reports with flare-ups of guttate psoriasis and pustular psoriasis, and in many cases even with psoriasis affecting 100% of the skin, which is called erythroderma.”

Israeli researchers Recently, it was found that psoriasis patients have a rather increased risk of contracting COVID, although they wouldn't have the next risk of hospitalization or death. This could also be because psoriasis is typically related to immunomodulatory therapywhich can expose patients to the next risk of infection.

If you've got psoriasis and your COVID test is positive, it is best to arm yourself with information. While we don't yet know all the things concerning the possible connection between the 2 conditions, there are methods to treat the issue.

How can COVID trigger a psoriasis flare-up?

Psoriasis is a Autoimmune diseaseAnd inflammation may cause symptoms.

A study from Albany Medical College/Weirton Medical Center found that folks within the study who had already been diagnosed with the skin disease had an unexpected flare-up of the disease inside every week to a month of a positive COVID test. New psoriasis after COVID infection was also noted. The researchers consider this will be because COVID causes inflammation within the body that negatively impacts previously well-controlled psoriasis. They also think it's possible that COVID-related inflammation could trigger a genetic predisposition to psoriasis, which could explain why it could possibly first appear after a positive test.

Inflammation within the body often manifests itself through skin diseases.

“The skin is the largest organ in the body,” says Robert O. Carpenter, MD, Director of Wellness at Texas A&M College of Medicine in Bryan, Texas. “A viral infection like COVID-19 can signal the release of pro-inflammatory factors that can appear as rashes, like in psoriasis.”

What are the symptoms of COVID-related psoriasis?

The symptoms are the identical as any type of psoriasis. According to Mayo ClinicThese signs will be:

  • A patchy, scaly, raised red rash. Psoriasis will also be purple, pink, gray, brown, or silver in color. The rash can appear anywhere on the body. Psoriasis may also seem like scales.
  • Dry, cracked skin that sometimes peels
  • Itchy, burning or painful skin

If I actually have psoriasis, will COVID robotically make the disease worse?

Not necessarily.

“Psoriasis is a common condition, so people should be aware that new-onset psoriasis may not be related to COVID-19,” said Esther Freeman MD, PhDDirector of Global Health Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

As with every aspect of COVID, doctors and scientists are still learning how serious and widespread psoriasis will be after COVID-19. “We've seen case reports that psoriasis can flare up after COVID-19,” said Freeman, who can also be an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. “I have to say, this hasn't been a tidal wave – more like sporadic cases here and there. So I don't think psoriasis flares are a major finding after COVID, nor do they necessarily mean you have long COVID. That being said, we know that many different infections can cause psoriasis flares, and in that respect, it's not that surprising that SARS-CoV-2 can trigger a psoriasis flare like other infections.”

Could multiple COVID infections trigger a psoriasis flare-up? It's possible.

“Your body can change after having COVID-19,” Carpenter said. “We don't know the long-term consequences, but repeated COVID-19 illness can increase your risk of long COVID disease, which can cause many systemic changes in your body.”

Another essential point: If you Biologicsimmunomodulatory therapy to treat psoriasis, vaccination and booster against COVID is a very important step to guard you.

Is psoriasis itself a possible symptom of COVID?

“Yes, but we don't know how common this may be, and a causal relationship is difficult to establish from case reports,” said Gelfand, who can also be medical director of the clinical trials division in his university's department of dermatology. “If a patient presents with a flare-up of psoriasis, particularly guttate, pustular or erythrodermic forms, an infectious trigger should usually be considered, and testing for streptococcus and possibly COVID-19 may be appropriate.”

If you might be actually experiencing a psoriasis flare-up or are experiencing it for the primary time after a positive COVID test, it is best to also ask your dermatologist about recent treatment options.

“You may need to change your psoriasis medication or take medication for the first time,” Carpenter said.

It is essential to know that the issue will be brought under control.

“Psoriasis flare-ups caused by infections usually improve over a period of months,” Gelfand said. “We have many safe and effective ways to treat psoriasis flare-ups, including new topical medications, UV light phototherapy and pills. There is no reason to suffer from psoriasis – most patients can be helped with all the recent advances in treatment.”