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Psoriatic Arthritis and Psoriasis: What's the Connection?

Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Triggers

So far, scientists have not been able to identify psoriatic arthritis triggers. Currently, it's not possible to predict which people with psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.  

Researchers have been able to determine a number of triggers for psoriasis, including:

  • Stress: For some people, stress can cause psoriasis flare-ups.
  • Some medications: Certain medications, including lithium and medications used to treat malaria, can make existing skin lesions worse or prompt a psoriasis flare-up.
  • Strep infection: For some people with psoriasis, strep throat infection is believed to lead to guttate psoriasis, a form of the disease that causes red spots to form on the skin.  
  • Lack of ultraviolet light: Winter's long, dreary days can also make psoriasis symptoms worse, since the sun's ultraviolet light helps clear skin plaques and lesions for many people.
  • Skin injury: Trauma to the skin, such as insect bites, sunburn or scratches, can be a trigger for psoriasis to appear (known as a Koebner response).

Some research studies suggest that people with more severe psoriasis may be more likely to develop psoriatic arthritis, but so far there's no certain proof. However, a possible link means it is important to treat psoriasis skin lesions as soon as they occur.

Even though psoriatic arthritis triggers are largely a mystery, there are steps you can take to maximize your health and minimize the impact of psoriatic arthritis.

Making sure you get enough rest and exercise and eating a healthy, varied diet can help strengthen your immune system, muscles, and joints -- all of which are key players in the battle against psoriatic arthritis. Experts also recommend using stress-reduction techniques to help cope with stress, which can worsen psoriasis and potentially psoriatic arthritis.  

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Reviewed on June 30, 2008

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