Psoriasis is a skin condition in which dry, itchy patches of skin develop. As the treatment options for psoriasis include immunosuppressants, some people with this condition may have concerns about COVID-19 vaccination. However, current evidence suggests that the vaccines are safe and effective for those living with psoriasis, and experts recommend that they receive the vaccine as soon as it is available to them.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition involving an overproduction of skin cells that form plaques and scales on the skin. The symptoms can be painful, and ongoing treatment may be necessary.

Some people may have concerns that psoriasis medications could reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine or that the vaccine may cause psoriasis flares. However, no current evidence supports this. As COVID-19 can cause severe problems in people with psoriasis, expert guidance advises that people get the vaccine when it becomes available to them.

In this article, we discuss the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations in people living with psoriasis.

A person with psoriasis receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.Share on Pinterest
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Both the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) and the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance recommend that people living with psoriasis receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, the NPF COVID-19 Task Force advises that those with psoriatic disease who do not have contraindications to vaccination should receive the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them.

People with chronic health conditions, including those with psoriasis, have a higher risk of severe illness if they develop COVID-19. People with psoriasis may also take medications that suppress their immune system, such as cyclosporin or methotrexate. People taking these types of medications have an increased likelihood of experiencing severe COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccination can significantly reduce a person’s risk of developing the disease and experiencing severe complications. Although the vaccines may not be as effective in people with psoriasis taking immunosuppressant drugs, they are still likely to provide some degree of protection against COVID-19, which is better than none.

In some cases, it may be advisable for those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised to receive an additional dose. Regardless, experts recommend that people living with psoriasis undergo COVID-19 vaccination to prevent the potentially severe complications of the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all COVID-19 vaccines that have received approval in the United States effectively reduce the risk of COVID-19. They can help protect people from becoming sick or requiring hospitalization due to the virus. Three vaccines are available in the U.S.:

Evidence indicates that these vaccines are effective in both clinical trial and real world settings. Although there is little evidence specifically investigating the vaccines in people with psoriasis, a 2021 article suggests that they are safe and effective for these individuals.

The CDC states that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. However, as with any medicine, the vaccines can cause side effects. These may include:

  • swelling, discoloration, and pain at the injection site
  • fever
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • nausea

Possible severe side effects include anaphylaxis in people who are allergic to a substance in the vaccine. However, the CDC states that any serious health problems are rare following the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the NPF, there is no evidence that people with psoriasis are at an increased risk of side effects or complications due to the COVID-19 vaccination.

Various treatments are available for treating psoriasis. Doctors will determine the right kind of treatment depending on factors that include the type and severity of psoriasis. The standard types of psoriasis medications include:

  • Topical treatments: These are medications that a person applies directly to the skin. For example, a doctor may prescribe topical steroids, which can reduce inflammation of the skin.
  • Phototherapy: This is a type of therapy that involves applying UV light to the skin. The treatment may take place at home or at a clinic.
  • Systemic therapies: Systemic drugs can manipulate the immune system to help reduce symptoms of psoriasis.
  • Complementary and integrative medications: Some people make lifestyle changes, such as following a more nutritious diet and increasing physical activity, to treat some symptoms of psoriasis.

According to the NPF, it is unclear whether psoriasis treatment reduces the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations. However, due to the dosing schedule of the vaccine, the organization advises that people continue with their psoriasis treatment plan when getting the vaccine. Anyone with any concerns can discuss them with their doctor.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination worsens psoriasis and no theory to suggest that it would.

However, illness is a potential trigger of a psoriasis flare. Due to the immunosuppressant nature of some psoriasis treatments, people taking them may have a higher risk of a potential infection and ensuing flare. As a result, doctors may recommend receiving some vaccinations, such as those against singles or pneumococcal infections, before starting a systemic therapy. However, evidence does not suggest that this applies to COVID-19 vaccines.

While some research acknowledges case reports of psoriasis exacerbation after COVID-19 vaccination, experts still recommend this preventive treatment and advise people to contact their healthcare provider if they notice a flare.

The Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna vaccines have all received approval for use in the U.S. These vaccines are all effective in preventing COVID-19.

The NPF recommends that people with psoriasis take the first vaccine available to them because none of the vaccines are less safe or effective for people with psoriasis than they are for people without this condition.

Evidence indicates that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for people living with psoriasis. Experts advise people to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them. While some research suggests that the vaccines may be less effective in immunocompromised individuals, they are still likely to provide some degree of protection.

Although the vaccines may cause some mild side effects and, in rare cases, exacerbate symptoms, they can protect people with psoriasis against severe complications from COVID-19. A person should contact their doctor about any concerns they have regarding the vaccine.