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Understanding Inflammation

Why does it happen? And how do you keep it under control?

Did you know that even people living with mild psoriasis may have inflammation in the body? [1] That means even people with symptoms that are barely visible on the skin can still have inflammation in joints, tissues, and organs – including the largest organ in the body, the skin.

The chronic inflammation associated with both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can play a role in the development of other diseases related to psoriatic disease, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and even anxiety and depression. [2]

So now you know why it’s important to reduce inflammation in the body, but why does inflammation happen, and what might help reduce it?

Understanding Inflammation

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. When you cut your hand and it becomes red, warm, and swollen and delivers quite a shock of throbbing pain, you are experiencing the results of acute inflammation. It’s temporary or short term. Your body is creating the inflammation to fight off infection and start the healing process.

Psoriatic disease is associated with chronic inflammation throughout the body, which is longer term or recurring. Psoriasis and PsA are the result of an overactive immune system. When the immune system that protects us from infection, injury, and toxins is overactive, it creates inflammation in the body. It is this chronic inflammation that leads to the increased risk of developing the comorbidities mentioned earlier.

What Can I Do?

Effective treatment of your psoriatic disease helps to lessen or eliminate skin and joint symptoms. It may also help to reduce inflammation in your body. If you are not seeing an improvement in your symptoms after three to six months of treatment, talk with your health care provider about other treatment options or changes to your current treatment. [3]

Excessive body fat also has been shown to increase levels of inflammation. [4] If you have some extra pounds, ask your health care provider to help you navigate diet and exercise decisions. Weight loss has been shown to reduce inflammation, but there is no one correct approach, just as there is no one best diet. [5]

Reducing stress can help too, because unfortunately, emotional and physical stress can lead to inflammation. Try to do activities throughout the day that help you to relax. Even gentle movement like yoga or breathing exercises like meditation can help your body to better manage the harmful effects of inflammation. [6]

Finally, a lack of sleep can have an impact on inflammation. People with irregular sleep schedules are more likely to have chronic inflammation than those with normal sleep schedules. [6] Be sure to get a minimum of about seven hours of sleep each night for adults, although this varies from person to person. [7] A quiet, dark, and cool bedroom may help you get better sleep. [8]

Do you still have questions? Contact a National Psoriasis Foundation patient navigator for free assistance, and consider requesting the Inflammation Quick Guide, where so much of this helpful information can be found.

Learn More About the Impacts of Inflammation

Psoriasis and PsA are about a whole lot more than skin and joints.

Read More

References

1        Youn SW, Kang SY, Kim SA, et al. Subclinical systemic and vascular inflammation detected by (18) F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography in patients with mild psoriasis. J Dermatol. 2015; 42(6): 559–566. doi:10.1111/1346-8138.12859.

2        Elmets CA, Leonardi CL, Davis DMR, et al. Joint AAD-NPF guidelines of care for the management and treatment of psoriasis with awareness and attention to comorbidities. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019; 80(4): 1073–1113. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2018.11.058.

3        Armstrong AW, Siegel MP, Bagel J, et al. From the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation: Treatment targets for plaque psoriasis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017; 76(2): 290–298. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2016.10.017.

4        Ellulu MS, Patimah I, Khaza’ai H, et al. Obesity and inflammation: the linking mechanism and the compli-cations. Arch Med Sci. 2017; 13(4): 851–863. doi:10.5114/aoms.2016.58928.

5        Bianchi VE. Weight loss is a critical factor to reduce inflammation. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2018; 28: 21–35. doi:10.1016/j. clnesp.2018.08.007.

6        Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic inflammation. StatPearls. Updated Sept. 28, 2021. https://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/.

7        Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basics about sleep. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html.

8        American Sleep Association. What is sleep and why is it important? https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/what-is-sleep/.

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