Studies show there may be a link between psoriatic disease and cognitive impairment.

Psoriasis is an immune-mediated condition associated with systemic inflammation. The most common form, plaque psoriasis, causes raised, scaly skin lesions to form on one or more parts of the body.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an inflammatory type of arthritis. It causes stiff, swollen, painful joints. If a person does not receive treatment, the condition can cause permanent joint damage and lead to mobility problems.

Psoriatic disease is a term that collectively refers to both psoriasis and PsA. The two conditions are related. Up to 30% of people living with psoriasis also develop PsA.

Brain fog is a type of cognitive dysfunction that involves issues with:

  • attention
  • concentration
  • memory
  • organization
  • speech

All these are also symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is a condition where a person has more issues with thinking or memory than other people in their age group.

MCI may include other minor issues associated with thought patterns, such as:

  • losing things frequently
  • thinking more slowly
  • forgetting words or appointments

Research has shown that both psoriasis and PsA can cause symptoms of brain fog or MCI. This article explores the connection.

According to research, both psoriasis and PsA can cause brain fog or MCI.

A 2018 study notes a link between psoriasis and MCI. According to the researchers, psoriasis can cause:

  • MCI
  • depression or anxiety
  • reduced quality of life

They note that doctors should assess a person’s cognitive and mental health status both during diagnosis and over the course of treatment.

A 2017 study found that people with psoriasis scored lower on cognitive assessment tests than those without the condition.

Research has also shown a connection between PsA and MCI. A 2021 study reports that people living with PsA had a higher incident rate of MCI than the general population. The study researchers note that the determining factors included:

  • age
  • disability level
  • skin involvement

Health experts believe that both psoriatic disease and cognitive dysfunction have inflammatory components. Treating psoriatic disease can help minimize chronic inflammation, which in turn can improve MCI symptoms.

A person living with psoriasis, PsA, or both who is concerned about symptoms of MCI or brain fog can take steps to lessen the severity of their symptoms. The following tips may help with managing both psoriatic disease and brain fog.

Staying active

A person should consult a doctor about their ability to start a new exercise routine to help manage both PsA and potentially help with symptoms of brain fog or MCI.

According to a 2015 study, aerobic exercise, such as walking or running, can help improve MCI.

Exercise and physical activity can also help individuals living with PsA reduce:

  • joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • inflammation
  • risk of developing related comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease

Improving sleep hygiene

Consistently getting restful sleep may help improve symptoms of brain fog. According to a 2017 study, lack of sleep causes disruptions in the brain’s ability to communicate with itself. This can lead to memory loss and other MCI symptoms.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, several factors associated with PsA, such as pain, depression, and sleep apnea, can affect a person’s sleep. Addressing these factors could help improve an individual’s sleep patterns.

Establishing good sleep hygiene can help a person get sufficient rest. The following tips may prove useful:

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Remove electronic devices from the bedroom.
  • Maintain a cool, dark, quiet bedroom environment to promote sleep.

Finding a new hobby

The researchers behind a 2015 study found that taking up a new hobby can help strengthen and maintain cognitive function. Possible pastimes include painting, crafting, woodworking, or any other activity that requires the brain to engage.

Finding a new hobby, particularly one involving a social element where a person can engage with others, may also help with depression or anxiety. It could also help individuals feel less isolated or alone if they have difficulty staying social otherwise.

Treating the underlying causes

While psoriasis and PsA can cause brain fog to occur, some comorbidities, such as depression and anxiety, can also play a role. Treating these types of underlying conditions can help manage related cognitive symptoms.

Following all treatments as prescribed for psoriatic disease to lower inflammation, finding ways to manage stress, and treating any depression or anxiety can help reduce cognitive symptoms.

Other tips

Other steps can help address symptoms of brain fog and MCI, although they may not have a direct impact on psoriatic disease. These steps include:

  • minimizing consumption of processed foods
  • finding coping strategies, such as writing things down
  • trying out executive functioning coaching
  • practicing mind clearing skills, such as mindfulness

Brain fog or MCI can occur with psoriasis and PsA.

A person can take steps to manage both psoriatic disease and cognitive symptoms simultaneously, such as getting exercise, improving sleep, and following a doctor’s treatment recommendations.

Additional steps, such as trying to develop coping strategies and practicing mindfulness, can also help manage brain fog directly.