Herpes Zoster Risk Greatly Increased in Psoriasis

herpes zoster on skin, shingles
herpes zoster on skin, shingles
An increased risk of herpes zoster was found in women, elderly patients, and patients with psoriasis.

Patients with psoriasis are known to be at increased risk for infections, including herpes zoster (HZ). A new study from Taiwan recently published in PLoS One found that this risk varies according to gender and age—and can be as high as 77%.

Attention has focused on the high rate of HZ among patients with psoriasis, both those receiving systemic treatment and those who are not.

To better understand the link, researchers in Taiwan used the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database to match people with psoriasis who were newly diagnosed over a 6-year period with people who did not have the disease.

Each of 4077 patients was matched by sex, age, and year of diagnosis with 4 people without psoriasis. The researchers also categorized the patients with psoriasis into 2 groups: severe (on systemic therapy) and mild (not on systemic therapy).

The study participants were followed for approximately 8 years.

The researchers found that people with psoriasis were 29% more likely to have HZ than those who did not have psoriasis, and those with severe psoriasis had an even greater likelihood of 61%. Gender and age also made a difference.

Women had a 36% higher risk for HZ developing, and study participants age 20 to 39 years had the highest risk of 77%.

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The researchers commented that the increased risk for HZ among people with the severe form of psoriasis could be the result of intrinsic factors related to psoriasis or it could be the result of the therapy these patients receive.

The authors hope that this study will aid physicians to better identify their patients who are most at risk and take steps to help prevent HZ.


Tsia S-Y, Chen H-J, Lio C-F, et al. Increased risk of herpes zoster in patients with psoriasis: a population-based retrospective cohort study. PLoS One. 2017;12:e0179447.