May 2021

Psoriatic disease is a common inflammatory disease associated with a significant burden of comorbidities that extends beyond the skin.

In connection with the centenary of the discovery of insulin, The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) explores the relationship between psoriatic disease and diabetes in the report “Inside Psoriatic Disease: Diabetes”.

Are psoriatic disease and diabetes linked?

Research suggests that people with psoriatic disease are at higher risk of developing diabetes compared to people without psoriatic disease. The odds of developing diabetes increase with the severity of the disease. Psoriatic disease is linked specifically to type 2 diabetes, which is also the most common type of diabetes worldwide. The cause of this association is still unclear. Genetics, chronic inflammation, and the presence of other shared risk factors have been proposed to play a role in linking psoriatic disease and diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, cells lose the ability to respond to the insulin produced by the body, causing blood sugars to remain in circulation rather than be assimilated into the cells.

What can be done to prevent the insurgence of diabetes in people with psoriatic disease?

Like psoriatic disease, diabetes is a multifactorial disease, which means it is caused by a combination of genes and other factors, such as environmental factors. Some of the factors leading to the insurgence of diabetes cannot be modified, whereas others can be influenced.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, the majority of type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented by intervening in lifestyle factors. Achieving a healthy weight and incorporating moderate physical exercise into daily routines can facilitate the prevention - and management - of diabetes.

What is the impact of lifestyle changes aimed at preventing diabetes on psoriatic disease?

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is encouraged in people living with psoriatic disease: research shows that excess weight and obesity are linked to the severity of the disease and that losing weight improves the efficacy of some treatments for psoriatic disease.

Regular physical activity can also be beneficial for the joints, though it is important to consult a doctor before starting exercising or if exercise causes pain. Moreover, regular, moderate physical activity is important to decrease the stress and anxiety that burden many people living with psoriatic disease.

What can be done to better address diabetes in people with psoriatic disease?

Providing information to people living with psoriatic disease, including information about the increased risk of developing diabetes, is the first step towards supporting people in their patient journey. Nowadays, health care professionals, psoriatic disease patient organisations and other organisations working in the field of dermatology have general information on psoriatic disease openly available online, making it easier for everyone to have access to up-to-date, reliable information.

Diet, exercise, and smoking cessation counselling are important components of optimal care for psoriatic disease. Health care workers are perfectly positioned to give their patients tailored advice, and there are many support groups connected to patient organisations that can support people in implementing lifestyle changes.

As people with psoriatic disease are at increased risk of developing diabetes, regardless of the severity of their disease, implementation of regular screening for diabetes should become part of regular care. Screening is important to diagnose diabetes in its early stage, to avoid diabetes complications or delay them as much as possible. People can live a long life in good health if diabetes is diagnosed early and managed properly.

For more information on psoriatic disease and diabetes, access the report “Inside Psoriatic Disease: Diabetes” published by IFPA.

IFPA is an international non-governmental organisation representing national and regional psoriatic disease patient associations, and is the global leader in fighting psoriatic disease. For more information on IFPA, please visit

Elisa Martini
International Federation of Psoriasis Associations

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