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Psoriasis Increasingly Linked to Arthritis, Cardiovascular Disease

Posted: January 5, 2010

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A systemic illness

Doctors are finding that psoriasis is more than a skin disorder. About one in four people with psoriasis develop a form of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.

Studies have shown that people with psoriasis face a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems. The underlying link may be chronic inflammation, which plays a role in psoriasis and heart disease.

Treatment

While psoriasis can't be cured, a variety of topical and systemic treatment options can help control the condition. For mild-to-moderate psoriasis, topical treatments often are effective. Options include corticosteroids or retinoids to reduce inflammation; vitamin D analogs to slow skin growth; and tar to reduce scaling, itching and inflammation. Calcineurin inhibitors (tacrolimus and pimecrolimus) can help reduce inflammation and skin cell buildup.