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June 2017

Psoriasis May Hit Men Harder 

The red, scaly patches of psoriasis can be hard to deal with. Often covering skin around the elbows, knees, and scalp, the lesions may be itchy and painful. Men may especially struggle with this skin problem. So suggests a recent study of more than 5,400 adults with the disease. 

Man talking with his doctor

A gender gap

In the study, researchers looked at participants’ symptoms. They used a tool called the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI). It assesses how bad a person’s psoriasis is. It focuses on how widely the lesions are spread on the body. It also rates their degree of redness, thickness, and scaling. 

Psoriasis occurs in men and women equally. But this study found men tend to have worse symptoms. Their PASI scores were higher than those of women. This finding stuck even after researchers took into account other factors. These included age, smoking status, body weight, and length of time with the skin problem. 

A genetic difference

Psoriasis stems from a problem with the immune system. The body makes too many skin cells at a faster-than-normal rate. This chronic disease is more likely to occur in people with a family history of it. Genes may also help explain why men may suffer from worse symptoms. But more research is needed to pinpoint the true cause for the gender difference. 

The severity of symptoms also figures into care. One past study noted that men were more likely to take biologics. These strong medicines may be used when the lesions are widespread or disabling. People with psoriasis may also try light therapy. That’s when ultraviolet light is aimed at the skin. Light therapy may help heal lesions. Those with milder forms of the skin problem may need only skin treatments, like creams or ointments. 

Beyond the skin 

On the surface, psoriasis looks like it harms only the skin. But research shows it’s tied to many other health problems. 

One recent study found a link between psoriasis, depression, and arthritis. In people with the skin condition, those who were depressed were more likely to have joint pain. Experts have long noted depression as a risk for those with psoriasis. It may be because of stress and cosmetic concerns. 

Along with depression and arthritis, psoriasis tends to occur with:

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Cancer

  • Liver disease 

What’s the link? Chronic inflammation in the body may lead to psoriasis and many of the above health problems. Certain medicines and unhealthy habits, such as smoking, may also play a part.

Find out more about psoriasis.

Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2017
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