Psoriasis and TED

More than 80 different varieties of autoimmune diseases affect more than 23 million people in the United States. Somewhere along the way, the body’s immune system makes a mistake and begins to attack healthy tissue. The common thread among these conditions is inflammation.1

Psoriasis and thyroid eye disease (TED) are both autoimmune diseases. And you can have both at once. Learning about these conditions and how they occur can help you manage them both. This knowledge can help you guide any conversations you need to have with your doctor.2

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis (sore-eye-uh-sis) is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation inside the body that appears on the skin. The most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis. Plaques are areas of the skin that are:3,4

  • Patchy
  • Raised
  • Red or silver
  • Inflamed
  • Dry
  • Scale-like

For an unknown reason, the body’s immune system overreacts. This leads the body to produce new skin cells more quickly than older cells can die off naturally. The result is plaques, new skin cells that push the older cells up to the skin's surface.3,4

Psoriasis can affect any area of the body but is most common on:3,4

  • Scalp
  • Feet
  • Hands
  • Nails
  • Genitals
  • Elbows
  • Knees

What is thyroid eye disease (TED)?

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is a condition that affects the immune system, just like psoriasis. Symptoms of TED can also be caused by the body's immune system attacking itself, just like in psoriasis. In TED, the tissue behind and around the eyes is attacked, causing symptoms of the disease. Symptoms vary a lot from person to person. Some people have mild symptoms, while others have more severe problems.5

Many people who have TED have an overactive thyroid gland. Some people with TED may have an underactive thyroid gland. In about 1 out of 100 people, TED can happen even if their thyroid is working correctly.6

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves disease. This condition happens when your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, causing thyroid problems. Some people with TED also have Graves disease. But it is essential to know that just because someone has 1 of these diseases does not necessarily mean they have the other. TED and Graves are 2 different conditions that have different treatments.7

Autoimmune disorders

Autoimmune disorders are still not fully understood, and the exact cause of each one is unknown. However, doctors know that the body's immune system sometimes mistakes healthy cells for harmful ones. Symptoms show up depending on which part of the body is being attacked. Many people with autoimmune disorders have:1

  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Pain

What you need to know about psoriasis and TED

Some studies have shown that people who develop TED may also be more likely to develop other autoimmune conditions. This might be because of genes that are passed down in families. Doctors think that genes play a role in who gets TED.5,8

Inflammation appears different on various parts of the body. For TED, it is in the eyes. In psoriasis, inflammation is seen on the skin. However, both conditions have underlying inflammation inside the body.3,5

People with psoriasis are more likely to develop thyroid problems. People with psoriasis should be aware of symptoms related to thyroid problems, including:7

  • Dry skin not related to psoriasis
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Heart palpitations or fluttering
  • Joint pain
  • Hair loss

Because both TED and psoriasis are autoimmune diseases, some treatments may overlap. However, it is important to know that you need to manage both conditions. And their treatment regimens are different.4,5

Some studies do not show much of a link between psoriasis and thyroid disease or TED. This is confusing and adds to the mystery of autoimmune disease. More studies are needed to figure out the connection between psoriasis, thyroid disease, and TED. Until then, talk to your doctor if you think you have symptoms of 1 or more of these conditions.2,8

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