Psoriasis often improves during pregnancy

For women with psoriasis, high levels of estrogen during pregnancy seem to improve their skin condition.

Dr. Gerald D. Weinstein, of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues studied fluctuations in psoriasis during pregnancy and the post-partum period. The researchers assessed the body surface area affected by psoriasis in 47 pregnant women and 27 non-pregnant, menstruating women. In addition, levels of progesterone and estrogens were measured.

Overall, 55 percent of the pregnant women patients reported improvements in psoriasis, 21 percent reported no change, and 23 percent reported worsening, according to the researchers’ article in the Archives of Dermatology.

In the post-partum period, 9 percent of patients reported improvement, 26 percent no change, and 65 percent reported worsening.

Significant decreases in the body surface area affected by psoriasis were observed from 10 to 20 weeks into pregnancy compared with the non-pregnant group, but the situation reversed by 6 weeks post-partum, Weinstein’s team found.

The improvement in body surface area correlated with levels of estrogens and the estrogen-progesterone ratio.

The investigators say it would be worthwhile to look into how estrogen improves psoriasis, and whether the hormone might prevent worsening of psoriasis after menopause.

SOURCE: Archives of Dermatology, May 2005.

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Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by David A. Scott, M.D.