Research into psoriasis and diabetes and the connection between them is still ongoing. However, scientists currently believe that inflammation from psoriasis may cause insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
It is important to treat both conditions and try to prevent potential complications. Making certain lifestyle changes can also sometimes be effective in reducing the risk of comorbidities or minimizing the symptoms of both conditions.
In this article, we discuss the connection between psoriasis and type 2 diabetes, the prevalence of comorbidities, and the treatment options.
Psoriasis is a skin condition in which the immune system mistakenly overreacts and attacks healthy tissue, causing skin cells to build up too quickly for the body to shed them. As a result, inflamed raised areas of skin with white or silvery flakes called plaques may appear anywhere on the skin. Psoriasis may also affect other areas of the body, such as the nails and scalp. In some cases, inflammation affects the joints, resulting in psoriatic arthritis.
The medical community defines psoriasis as an autoimmune condition in which the immune system starts working too much in response to certain triggers. Factors that can increase the risk of psoriasis include infections, medications, smoking, and obesity.
Diabetes is a condition that impairs the body’s ability to process blood sugar. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
In type 1 diabetes, which is also known as juvenile diabetes, the body is unable to produce the hormone insulin because the immune system attacks the cells that carry out this function. In type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to it. This is the most common type of diabetes, and it has strong links with obesity.
Researchers are still studying the exact reason for the connection, but evidence suggests that a few factors may play a role.
A 2019 study highlights that psoriasis is associated with systemic inflammation. This includes inflammation in multiple organ systems, which may explain the increased risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes. The research also indicates that there may be metabolic genetic links between the two conditions.
Another possible link is that psoriasis contributes to diabetes by increasing insulin resistance. A 2018 study on mouse and human skin indicates that skin inflammation from psoriasis can result in insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
A 2020 study suggests that diabetes and psoriasis also share similar mechanisms that drive disease. Together, the conditions may lead to more cell and tissue damage, creating a vicious cycle.
Both conditions are also associated with similar risk factors, such as obesity, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, and renal disease. The authors of a 2017 article also suggest that psoriasis may actually be an independent risk factor for diabetes.
Prevalence of comorbidity
Diabetes and psoriasis are common comorbidities for each other, meaning that they often both affect the same person. Evidence notes that both conditions are fairly common in the United States, with more than 8 million people having psoriasis and more than 34 million people having diabetes.
Although little information is available on the prevalence of comorbid psoriasis and diabetes, research suggests that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among people with mild or severe psoriasis is roughly 37.4% and 41%, respectively. This finding indicates that the risk of developing diabetes may increase with the severity of psoriasis.
There is currently no cure for either psoriasis or diabetes. Instead, treatments focus on managing the condition.
For diabetes, treatments aim to keep blood glucose levels stable and at a healthy level through a combination of diet, exercise, and synthetic insulin.
In people with both conditions or other comorbidities, doctors may adjust the treatment approach to avoid complications. For example, if a particular treatment method for psoriasis will affect another health condition that the person has, doctors may recommend other treatments.
Home remedies, which center around lifestyle changes, are an important part of managing both psoriasis and diabetes.
Eating a nutritious diet
Along with other health benefits, eating a well-balanced diet can help a person better control their diabetes and prevent potential complications. Likewise, eating well can help lessen the severity of psoriasis symptoms. Certain dietary choices may also help lower the likelihood of comorbidities developing and reduce inflammation in the body.
Regular exercise keeps the body healthy, and it may also play a role in helping people manage both diabetes and psoriasis. Regular exercise can reduce stress and boost the immune system, which may help with psoriasis. It may also help with diabetes by keeping blood glucose levels within target ranges.
People can also use regular exercise to help control other risk factors for these disorders. For instance, it can help a person manage their weight.
Maintaining a moderate weight
Steps such as eating a nutritious diet and engaging in regular exercise can also help a person manage their weight. As obesity is a risk factor for both conditions, maintaining a moderate weight is an important step to reduce the risk.
Stress is a potential trigger for psoriasis flare-ups, and it can also make it difficult for a person to control their blood glucose levels. Therefore, finding ways to reduce stress may help manage these conditions.
The most effective stress management techniques may vary among individuals, but common approaches include:
Other lifestyle adjustments
Other lifestyle adjustments that may benefit health and potentially reduce the symptoms of psoriasis and diabetes include limiting alcohol, stopping smoking, and getting adequate sleep.
A doctor should work with a person who has psoriasis, type 2 diabetes, or both conditions to help them manage and control the symptoms. A person may also benefit from seeing a dermatologist for skin issues or an endocrinologist for a diabetes treatment plan.
Working with primary care doctors and specialists to help control and manage these conditions may increase a person’s quality of life.
Anyone who notices any troubling symptoms or potential complications should consult a doctor.
Psoriasis and diabetes are common comorbidities for each other, meaning that people with psoriasis are much more likely than other people to develop type 2 diabetes. Both conditions have similar risk factors and involve the immune system and inflammation.
Correctly managing both conditions is important to promote good health and reduce the risk factors for other comorbidities. Through treatments and lifestyle changes, people may be able to control both conditions and prevent potential complications.