A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes means serious lifestyle changes are in order. There is no cure for diabetes, which can open you up to a host of other health complications and can become life-threatening if not managed correctly. That’s why health experts tout the importance of preventing this disease before it happens, and that means knowing the risk factors to look out for. Research has found that something as simple as keeping an eye on your skin could give you insight into your chances of developing diabetes. Read on to learn more about the skin condition you should be looking out for.
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania sought to discover the link between psoriasis and diabetes, publishing their 2017 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The researchers analyzed data from more than 8,120 adults with psoriasis and compared it to data from over 76,590 adults without psoriasis over the course of four years. They found that patients with psoriasis have at least a 21 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those without the skin condition.
“The type of inflammation seen in psoriasis is known to promote insulin resistance, and psoriasis and diabetes share similar genetic mutations suggesting a biological basis for the connection between the two conditions we found in our study,” study senior author Joel M. Gelfand, MD, a professor of dermatology and epidemiology, said in a statement.
Psoriasis is a skin disorder that you should be able to spot easily. According to WebMD, this condition causes skin cells to multiply up to 10 times faster than normal, which allows skin to build up. That manifests as bumpy, red patches covered with white or silver-colored scales on your skin. You may also experience itchiness or pain with these patches, and they can also crack and bleed. Psoriasis patches can grow anywhere on your body, but they are most common on your scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back, per WebMD.
The researchers determined severity of psoriasis using body surface area (BSA), which measures the percentage of one’s body covered by psoriasis. Those with a BSA of 2 percent or less have a 21 percent higher type 2 diabetes risk, but that risk increases for people with a higher BSA. According to the study, patients with a BSA of 10 percent or more have a 64 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those without psoriasis. And for every 10 percent increase in BSA beyond that, the relative risk increases by another 20 percent. Therefore, psoriasis patients with a BSA of 20 percent have an almost 84 percent higher risk of developing diabetes, while patients with a BSA of 30 percent have a 104 percent higher risk than those without psoriasis.
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According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), psoriasis affects about 7.4 million people in the U.S., with the highest proportion being people between 45 and 64. Nearly 20 percent of those affected with psoriasis end up having moderate to severe versions of the condition. “Clinicians may consider measuring BSA affected by psoriasis as part of standard of care since it has important prognostic implications,” the 2017 researchers note in their study. “Patients with psoriasis affecting more than 10 percent BSA should be targeted for diabetes prevention efforts.”