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Can You Donate Plasma if You Have Psoriasis?

Medically reviewed by Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D.
Written by Sarah Winfrey
Posted on March 18, 2024

When you donate plasma, you might literally be saving someone’s life — getting plasma at the right time can mean the difference between life and death. However, some people wonder whether having psoriasis might prevent them from donating this part of their blood. As one MyPsoraisisTeam member said to another, “Let us know what you find out about donating. If it’s a go, I’d like to start donating again.”

If you are interested in donating plasma but have held back because of your chronic illness, here’s what you need to know.

What Is Plasma Donation?

Donating plasma is similar to donating blood. When you become a blood donor, you give all four parts of your blood — white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. This is sometimes called whole blood donation.

When you donate plasma, donation center staff members separate it from the rest of the blood, then return the other three parts to you. Plasma donation can take a while, so you’ll be paid for taking the time for this process.

Because plasma is mostly water, your body makes up what was lost faster than after a whole blood donation. Therefore, you can donate plasma more frequently than blood, if you wish.

Donated plasma is used to make medications for various illnesses, including blood clotting and immune system disorders. Plasma is also sometimes given in medical emergencies.

What Are the Requirements for Plasma Donation?

A lot of the requirements for donating plasma are similar to those for donating blood, and they can vary based on the organization. The most common one in the United States is the American Red Cross, though other plasma and blood donation centers are prominent in certain parts of the country.

In general, plasma donors must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds (50 kilograms)

The rules for plasma donation vary depending on where you’re donating. You’ll undergo medical screenings to ensure that you’re healthy enough to donate plasma.

Can People With Psoriasis Donate Plasma?

In general, having psoriasis doesn’t disqualify you from donating blood or plasma. However, some related conditions and medications may prevent you from being able to donate.

Antibiotics

Sometimes, people with psoriasis take antibiotics because their skin becomes infected after cycles of itching and scratching. If you’re currently on an antibiotic, you can’t donate blood unless you’re taking antibiotics for specific purposes, such as to treat acne or before dental work.

If you’re using oral antibiotics, you’ll need to finish them before you donate. If you’re on IV antibiotics, you need to finish them, then wait 10 days before making a donation.

Heart Disease

Having psoriasis can put you at greater risk of developing heart disease. If you have heart disease, these qualifications apply to you: As long as your cardiologist says you can donate and it’s been 6 months since you last experienced symptoms related to heart disease (including a heart attack), you can donate blood.

If you use a pacemaker and have a pulse of between 50 and 100 beats per minute, you can donate as long as you meet the rest of the qualifications.

Infections

You can’t donate while you have an active infection. If your skin becomes infected, you may need to postpone a donation appointment until your infection heals fully and you’re finished taking antibiotics. Some types of infections can prevent you from donating for an extended time or for life, but these aren’t associated with psoriasis.

Medications

Many people wonder if they can donate plasma while on medications for psoriasis. Generally, you can. One MyPsoriasisTeam member said, “I donate and am on Humira. They always need to call the blood bank to check, since it’s not on the quick ’meds cheat sheet,’ but I’m always approved.”

However, if you’ve ever been prescribed acitretin (Soriatane, Neotigason) for psoriasis, you’ll need to stop using it, then wait three years before you can donate. If you’ve ever taken etretinate (Tegison) for psoriasis, you may not donate blood or plasma again.

Some other medications may require waiting periods before you can donate.

Different Rules in the United Kingdom

If you want to donate blood in the United Kingdom, some rules are stricter. The area of skin affected by any active psoriasis flare-up must be smaller than the amount of skin that covers one arm, and psoriasis must not affect the site where the needle will puncture your skin.

People who’ve taken certain medications, including some biologics, should call before attempting to donate so that specialists can determine eligibility. They may require use of only topical treatments to control your psoriasis.

How Can I Stay Safe When Donating Plasma?

If you believe you’re eligible to donate plasma but aren’t sure, the physical you get before you donate will help determine if your body is up to the process. They donation center’s staff will do follow several steps, including:

  • Taking a full medical history, screening for certain medical conditions and overall good health
  • Testing you for certain viruses
  • Checking protein and hemoglobin levels in your blood

When they take your medical history, you’ll have a chance to talk about psoriasis and any associated medications or concerns. If the person doing the exam doesn’t think that plasma donation is safe for you, they won’t allow you to donate. If they give you the go-ahead, you can feel confident that you’re ready.

On the day of your donation, prepare by:

  • Drinking 16 ounces of water
  • Relaxing before and during your donation
  • Eating nutritious foods

That way, your body will be in the best possible place when it’s time to donate your plasma.

What To Do if You Can’t Donate

If you aren’t eligible for the donation process, you might feel disappointed, especially if you want to donate for a particular person or cause. You might be able to give back in other ways even if you can’t donate plasma or whole blood.

Volunteering at a hospital, for instance, can help meet needs and lift spirits. If you want to donate for a particular person or cause, reach out to the individual or organization. There are likely other ways you can offer support by giving either your time or money.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis, and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 126,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Are you planning to donate plasma while living with psoriasis? Have you already donated plasma? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Posted on March 18, 2024
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    Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D. received his medical degree and completed residency training in dermatology at the University of Ghent, Belgium. Learn more about him here.
    Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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