How COVID-19 Impacts Psoriasis Patients

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been classified as a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’1, especially with its increasing number of cases across the globe. It is possible that COVID-19 may never be fully eliminated, and everyone is encouraged to adapt and learn to live with it2.

Health authorities are also urging people to take proper precautions and maintain social distancing when leaving their homes to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 is kept at minimum and people who are in the high-risk groups are safe.


Photo by Kate Trifo on Unsplash

According to WHO, people who are classified as high-risk in this COVID-19 situation includes3:

  • People who are at the age of 60 years old and above
  • People with underlying health conditions such as:
    • Chronic lung disease
    • Moderate to severe asthma
    • Heart conditions
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Liver disease
    • Kidney disease
    • Immunocompromised

It goes without saying that those who fall under the high-risk group is required to be extra careful and take proper precautions in protecting themselves and those around them from COVID-19. For people living with psoriasis and have developed an underlying disease due to their condition, they are also at risk of being impacted by COVID-19 if safety measures are not met.

Studies have shown that psoriasis patients have a higher chance of developing health complications such as cardiovascular diseases4, diabetes, obesity, and liver disease , among others, which places them within this high-risk group.

Psoriasis is also an autoimmune disease that is caused by an overactive immune system that automatically launches an inflammatory response against your own body5. Patients living with psoriasis often find red, itchy scaly patches on their skin, especially on the knees, elbows, and torso areas6.

While there is still no cure for psoriasis, there are treatments available to help suppress the patient’s overactive immune system. These treatments can alter the immune system in a way that disrupts the disease cycle and improves symptoms, as well as signs of the disease7.

Reports also share that certain underlying diseases such as obesity, seem to worsen the effect of COVID-19, as healthcare professionals would find it difficult to intubate a patient who is living with obesity, as well as run proper diagnostic imaging8.

Furthermore, for psoriasis patients who are suffering with diabetes and contracts the COVID-19, it may be harder for health authorities to treat them due to fluctuations in blood glucose levels, and possibly other complications caused by diabetes9.

Experts also share that in these difficult times, it is easy for people to feel distress, especially with job-losses and uncertainty over their safety. For a person living with Psoriasis, this just piles on to the challenges they have with their condition, especially with stress being noted as one of the many triggers to a flare-up10.

According to the International Federation of Psoriasis Association (IFPA), psoriasis patients should still follow the same precautions recommended by the WHO and local health authorities just like everyone else11. It is also recommended that psoriasis patients speak to their dermatologists and find out what works best for them in this current pandemic.

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References:

1Statement on the second meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Who.int. (2020). Retrieved 30 June 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/30-01-2020-statement-on-the-second-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-(2005)-emergency-committee-regarding-the-outbreak-of-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov).
2Coronavirus may never go away: WHO | New Straits Times. NST Online. (2020). Retrieved 30 June 2020, from https://www.nst.com.my/world/world/2020/05/592348/coronavirus-may-never-go-away-who.
3COVID-19 High risk groups. Who.int. (2020). Retrieved 30 June 2020, from https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19/information/high-risk-groups.
4Related Conditions – National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriasis.org. (2020). Retrieved 30 June 2020, from https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/related-conditions.
5National Psoriasis Foundation – Immune System & Psoriasis. Psoriasis.org. (2020). Retrieved 10 July 2020, from https://www.psoriasis.org/research/science-of-psoriasis/immune-system.
6Psoriasis – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. (2020). Retrieved 10 July 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840#:~:text=Psoriasis%20is%20a%20skin%20disease,while%20or%20going%20into%20remission.
7Psoriasis – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org. (2020). Retrieved 30 June 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355845.
8Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Obesity | World Obesity Federation. World Obesity Federation. (2020). Retrieved 10 July 2020, from https://www.worldobesity.org/news/statement-coronavirus-covid-19-obesity.
9COVID-19 and diabetes. Idf.org. (2020). Retrieved 10 July 2020, from https://www.idf.org/aboutdiabetes/what-is-diabetes/covid-19-and-diabetes/1-covid-19-and-diabetes.html.
10Life with psoriasis: Stress | National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriasis.org. (2020). Retrieved 10 July 2020, from https://www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/stress#:~:text=Stress%20is%20a%20common%20trigger,as%20post%2Dtraumatic%20stress%20disorder.
11Frequently Asked Questions. International Federation of Psoriasis Associations. (2020). Retrieved 30 June 2020, from https://ifpa-pso.com/covid-19/frequently-asked-questions/.