Clinical Review

Translating the 2019 AAD-NPF Guidelines of Care for Psoriasis With Attention to Comorbidities

Author and Disclosure Information

In April 2019, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) released a set of guidelines regarding the management of psoriasis with a focus on its extracutaneous manifestations—comorbidities, mental health, psychosocial wellness, and quality of life (QOL). These guidelines provide the most up-to-date evidence on the screening and treatment recommendations for these disease comorbidities. The purpose of this review is to present the recommendations in a form that can be easily applied in clinical practice.

Practice Points

  • Educating patients about psoriasis and its extracutaneous manifestations, available treatment options, and the impact of lifestyle choices is advised to maximize their patient’s disease awareness and to promote a collaborative physician-patient partnership.
  • Physicians are strongly recommended to screen patients with psoriasis for the presence of disease comorbidities to ensure comprehensive management of their disease.
  • Managing psoriasis as a multisystem inflammatory disorder requires the combined effort of dermatologists and other specialists to prevent and treat disease comorbidities and enhance patients’ quality of life.



Psoriasis is a chronic and relapsing systemic inflammatory disease that predisposes patients to a host of other conditions. It is believed that these widespread effects are due to chronic inflammation and cytokine activation, which affect multiple body processes and lead to the development of various comorbidities that need to be proactively managed.

In April 2019, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) released recommendation guidelines for managing psoriasis in adults with an emphasis on common disease comorbidities, including psoriatic arthritis (PsA), cardiovascular disease (CVD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), metabolic syndrome, and mood disorders. Psychosocial wellness, mental health, and quality of life (QOL) measures in relation to psoriatic disease also were discussed.1

The AAD-NPF guidelines address current screening, monitoring, education, and treatment recommendations for the management of psoriatic comorbidities. The Table and eTable summarize the screening recommendations. These guidelines aim to assist dermatologists with comprehensive disease management by addressing potential extracutaneous manifestations of psoriasis in adults.

Screening and Risk Assessment

Patients with psoriasis should receive a thorough history and physical examination to assess disease severity and risk for potential comorbidities. Patients with greater disease severity—as measured by body surface area (BSA) involvement and type of therapy required—have a greater risk for other disease-related comorbidities, specifically metabolic syndrome, renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obstructive sleep apnea, uveitis, IBD, malignancy, and increased mortality.2 Because the likelihood of comorbidities is greatest with severe disease, more frequent monitoring is recommended for these patients.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Patients with psoriasis need to be evaluated for PsA at every visit. Patients presenting with signs and symptoms suspicious for PsA—joint swelling, peripheral joint involvement, and joint inflammation—warrant further evaluation and consultation. Early detection and treatment of PsA is essential for preventing unnecessary suffering and progressive joint destruction.3

There are several PsA screening questionnaires currently available, including the Psoriatic Arthritis Screening Evaluation, Psoriasis Epidemiology Screening Tool, and Toronto Psoriatic Arthritis Screen. No significant differences in sensitivity and specificity were found among these questionnaires when using the Classification Criteria for Psoriatic Arthritis as the gold standard. All 3 questionnaires—the Psoriatic Arthritis Screening Evaluation and the Psoriasis Epidemiology Screening Tool were developed for use in dermatology and rheumatology clinics, and the Toronto Psoriatic Arthritis Screen was developed for use in the primary care setting—were found to be effective in dermatology/rheumatology clinics and primary care clinics, respectively.3 False-positive results predominantly were seen in patients with degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis. Dermatologists should conduct a thorough physical examination to distinguish PsA from degenerative joint disease. Imaging and laboratory tests to evaluate for signs of systemic inflammation (erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein) also can be helpful in distinguishing the 2 conditions; however, these metrics have not been shown to contribute to PsA diagnosis.1 Full rheumatologic consultation is warranted in challenging cases.


Next Article: