FRIDAY, July 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Treating the skin disease psoriasis might reduce your risk for other health problems as well, a dermatology expert says.

About 7.5 million people in the United States have the chronic skin disease. The inflammatory effects of psoriasis can affect the entire body, said Dr. Jashin Wu, director of dermatology research at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.

"People with psoriasis, particularly those with more severe disease, have an increased risk for a variety of other health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack," he said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.

Psoriasis is characterized by red, raised patches of skin, or plaques, covered with silvery-white scales. It's also marked by itching, burning or soreness of the skin. It is not contagious.

"Psoriasis patients, even those with mild disease, need to be aware of how this condition affects their overall health," Wu added.

Treating skin inflammation in psoriasis patients may also lower inflammation in other areas of the body and reduce heart disease risk, he said.

All psoriasis patients should seek treatment for their skin disease, maintain a healthy weight and talk to their doctor about being screened for heart problems, Wu said.

"Managing your psoriasis is not just about improving your skin -- it's about caring for your entire well-being," he added.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on psoriasis.