Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About MyPsoriasisTeam

Psoriasis and Fatigue: Why Am I So Tired?

Updated on April 05, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A.
Article written by
Sarah Winfrey

People diagnosed with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis (PsA) often experience fatigue — mental or physical exhaustion that occurs regardless of how much rest a person gets. Fatigue is more common in psoriatic arthritis, affecting at least 3 out of every 10 people with the condition.

Feeling tired after physical exertion, a busy day, or a night of insufficient sleep is normal. Having fatigue, however, is different from simply being tired. Understanding this fatigue, how it affects one’s physical and emotional state, and how to manage it can help minimize its effects.

The Impact of Fatigue on People With Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Fatigue can affect many aspects of daily life, both emotionally and physically.

Exhaustion

The fatigue associated with psoriasis and PsA often manifests as extreme tiredness. As one MyPsoriasisTeam member explained, her husband “gets so sleepy driving to work (an 8-minute drive) that he will doze off at his daily office meeting.” Another member shared, “After a week off, basically sleeping, I'm up and moving again.”

Another member wrote, “The fatigue is the worst when it hits hard. I have fallen asleep at the table before. It’s like my body just says, ‘Stop now!’”

Physical Impacts

Fatigue can have physical effects, such as making one feel as though their body has simply given out. As one MyPsoriasisTeam member described, “I call it my ‘Shut Down.’ My body goes into shutdown. I feel so tired and heavy. … I have trouble lifting my arms and making my legs work.”

Emotional Impacts

Many MyPsoriasisTeam members experience emotional symptoms from daily fatigue, including frustration from being unable to do as much as they used to. One member put it simply: “It really bugs me that the fatigue hits me so hard.”

Another shared the impacts of fatigue on their life and how they have adapted their mindset accordingly: “Yesterday, I was totally floored by fatigue. Today, I've spent a whole day in the garden. I’m making hay while the sun shines. I have stopped trying to work out the why. I just go with the day, and that leaves me less frustrated.”

Impacts on Daily Life

Severe fatigue, especially when long-lasting, can take a toll on a person’s overall quality of life. For example, it can hinder one’s ability to get through daily tasks they previously had no trouble completing.

One MyPsoriasisTeam member shared how they navigate life when fatigue hits: “When I’m fatigued, I try to keep my daily routine but just go through the motions and get the basics done. I still go to Pilates but put very little effort in.”

Another member wrote about taking time off from daily activities so she can come back stronger. She said, “I get to the shutdown point, and I tell my family I have got to go. I have to rest!”

What Causes Fatigue in Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are both inflammatory diseases involving molecules called cytokines. The immune system uses cytokines as signals to tell other immune-system cells what to do. Cytokines do not function properly for individuals with inflammatory conditions like psoriasis and PsA. This causes the immune system to attack when it doesn’t need to, increasing inflammation throughout the body.

Inflammation

The inflammation characteristic of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is directly related to fatigue. In fact, the more inflammation a person experiences, the more likely they are to experience significant fatigue.

In one European study, researchers identified 1,062 people diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Those experiencing fatigue had a higher incidence of tender or swollen joints and higher C-reactive protein levels, which indicate increased inflammation throughout the body.

Studies have also found correlations between increased fatigue and how long a person’s inflammation lasts. Long-term inflammation seems more likely to cause fatigue than short-term inflammation or inflammation that can be brought under control quickly.

Although researchers are unsure exactly how inflammation causes fatigue, they believe one cause may be some of the complex chemical changes that occur in the body and immune system when inflammation is triggered.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis may also trigger chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in some people. The percentage of people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis who later develop CFS is higher than that of the general population, but researchers are not yet sure why.

Sleep Problems

Skin conditions like psoriasis can make sleeping difficult. Psoriatic diseases have been linked to daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

Certain Medications

Some medications approved for treating psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, such as Otrexup (Methotrexate), can cause tiredness and fatigue.

Treatment for Fatigue in Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Dermatologists or rheumatologists are the best resources for treatments for managing psoriasis-related fatigue. Possible treatments and at-home management tips for fatigue include medications, healthy eating, plenty of rest, and exercise.

Medication

Successfully treating psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis — and the associated inflammation — may alleviate fatigue. Additionally, several studies found biologic medications to be effective in treating fatigue associated with PsA. A dermatologist or rheumatologist can provide guidance in weighing the costs and benefits of using any particular medication.

Eating Right

Some people diagnosed with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis find that eating a healthy, balanced diet helps combat their fatigue. For example, avoiding processed foods that cause blood sugar to quickly increase, then drop, may help even out one’s energy. Increasing B vitamins and lowering fat intake may also provide relief.

Rest

Many individuals diagnosed with psoriasis or PsA find that they simply need to rest when their bodies tell them to. One MyPsoriasisTeam member said, “Some days, I can push myself, and some days, I just have to rest.” Another wrote, “I don’t think there is a way to fight it other than to allow yourself to rest.”

Giving one’s body the time to rest and recover often helps alleviate fatigue.

Physical Activity

The right kind of exercise can help alleviate some of the chronic pain often associated with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. In some cases, lowering pain levels also helps increase energy levels and reduce fatigue. As one MyPsoriasisTeam member shared, “I’m on the mend now. I try to keep moving with lots of rests and heat packs, as well as little gentle exercises.”

Always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise or diet plan.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and PsA and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 87,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis and PsA.

Are you living with psoriatic arthritis that causes fatigue? Have you found ways to conserve your energy and manage daily activities? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

Related articles

Erythrodermic psoriasis affects an estimated 1 percent to 2.25 percent of people living with...

Erythrodermic Psoriasis: Symptoms and Photos

Erythrodermic psoriasis affects an estimated 1 percent to 2.25 percent of people living with...
When people think of psoriatic arthritis (PsA), many immediately think of symptoms like joint...

Tips for Managing Psoriatic Arthritis and Fatigue

When people think of psoriatic arthritis (PsA), many immediately think of symptoms like joint...
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is characterized by joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.A...

Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is characterized by joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.A...
Most people who have psoriatic arthritis (PsA) had psoriasis for five to 10 years first....

Skin and Joint Pain With Psoriatic Arthritis

Most people who have psoriatic arthritis (PsA) had psoriasis for five to 10 years first....
About half of people with plaque psoriasis on their bodies also develop psoriasis on the face....

Psoriasis on the Face

About half of people with plaque psoriasis on their bodies also develop psoriasis on the face....
Up to 80 percent of people with plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis experience nail...

Nail Psoriasis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Up to 80 percent of people with plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis experience nail...

Recent articles

Diagnosed with psoriasis in 2010, Vanessa Scott has learned to manage her condition and overcome...

Living With Psoriasis: Managing Flare-ups and Embracing Life

Diagnosed with psoriasis in 2010, Vanessa Scott has learned to manage her condition and overcome...
Nearly 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) had symptoms of skin psoriasis...

Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosis and Tests

Nearly 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) had symptoms of skin psoriasis...
Treatment for psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can help you reduce painful symptoms and control disease...

Treatments for Psoriatic Arthritis

Treatment for psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can help you reduce painful symptoms and control disease...
Psoriasis occurs when something goes wrong with your immune system. Your immune cells become...

T Cells in Psoriasis: A Simplified Guide

Psoriasis occurs when something goes wrong with your immune system. Your immune cells become...
The risk for developing psoriasis is associated with many factors, including genetics and...

Psoriasis and Ethnicity: Is Race a Risk Factor?

The risk for developing psoriasis is associated with many factors, including genetics and...
Anemia is a common comorbidity (co-occurring condition) in people with psoriasis, psoriatic...

Psoriasis and Anemia: What’s the Connection?

Anemia is a common comorbidity (co-occurring condition) in people with psoriasis, psoriatic...
MyPsoriasisTeam My psoriasis Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close