What is the Connection Between Vitamin D and Psoriasis?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Vitamin D and psoriasis are connected in a number of different ways. Some studies suggest this skin condition may be caused by or associated with a deficiency in this necessary vitamin, and it is also used in topical preparations to treat psoriasis outbreaks. Patients should be aware that taking too much vitamin D can be dangerous, as it is possible to overdose and develop health problems as a result. Any therapy involving this vitamin should be cleared with a doctor, and people should discontinue if they develop harmful side effects.

Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D supplements.

Psoriasis involves the development of red, scaly plaques of skin. Once it appears, it can be difficult to get rid of, and may spread over time to other areas of the body. Patients in treatment for psoriasis commonly start out with conservative measures, eventually getting more aggressive about management of the condition over time. The efficacy of available treatments is highly variable. Some patients experience relief on medications and regimens that do not benefit others at all. Studies on vitamin D and psoriasis have explored possible connections, but have been hindered by the variable ways patients respond to treatment.

A bottle of vitamin D supplements.
A bottle of vitamin D supplements.

In the case of vitamin D and psoriasis, people with this skin condition appear to have lower levels of vitamin D in their bodies. Studies using phototherapy were initially believed to improve the skin by elevating vitamin D levels, but follow-up suggested the light was actually more important than the vitamin. Some patients end phototherapy with low levels of vitamin D, but improved psoriasis, showing that the light clearly was the determining factor in improvement.

It is possible, since there is a genetic component, that people who have difficulty metabolizing vitamin D are also more susceptible to psoriasis. This may be why the condition can be seen in people with vitamin D deficiencies, but it doesn't respond to oral forms of the vitamin. Topical applications of vitamin D do appear to play a role in psoriasis treatment, however. Vitamin D and psoriasis are linked in the sense that skin creams with vitamin D or analogues can soften skin, reduce irritation, and help resolve flareups.

The connection between vitamin D and psoriasis is under investigation. This skin condition appears to be influenced by a number of factors. Connecting the dots to find out why some people get it, and why the severity can be so variable, will allow researchers to develop appropriate treatments. Patients in treatment may find it helpful to work with a psoriasis specialist who will have access to the latest information on treatments and may be able to provide more treatment options for patients.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@stoneMason-- Yea, vitamin D doesn't work for everyone. It's something worth trying, but it's not a guarantee treatment by any means.

Actually, many psoriasis patients trying the same treatments get such different results with most of them. I personally attribute this to other environmental factors that trigger psoriasis. For example, if you're under a lot of stress, I doubt that most psoriasis treatments will work. The immune system needs to become stronger for the body to beat psoriasis. And the most important thing for that is reducing stress levels.


I had great hopes from vitamin D treatment but it did not work for me. I used a vitamin D topical cream for some time. It did not make a difference in my symptoms whatsoever. In fact, my psoriasis gradually got worse.


Vitamin D does help with psoriasis but I think that it's easy to overdose with supplements. The best way to use vitamin D for psoriasis is to help the body make it naturally by regularly exposing skin to sunlight.

This is not always easy because people with psoriasis have sensitive skin and too much sunlight can appear to make symptoms worse. The trick is to start out with minimum exposure that does not irritate skin and increase this over time. For example, expose skin to sun for only five to ten minutes the first week and then slowly increase time in the sun to build tolerance and to increase vitamin D levels.

People in countries where there is little sunlight can use controlled UV-B phototherapy at the doctor's office, or even a vitamin D lamp.

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