If you have psoriatic arthritis, consuming enough fluids is a healthy habit that may reduce some of your bothersome symptoms. Good hydration is essential for many parts of the body to function properly, including your joints and skin.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an inflammatory condition that affects up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
When Cynthia Covert feels dehydrated or overheated, her psoriatic arthritis pain and stiffness goes into overdrive. “I feel like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz,” says Covert, who writes the blog Disabled Diva.
Covert often uses an electric wheelchair when visiting places that require a lot of walking, such as theme parks. “[So] it’s hard to tell when I have gone too long without drinking water,” she says.
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Though staying well hydrated may require a deliberate effort on your part, you might find it’s worth it. Here’s what you need to know about how proper hydration can benefit people with PsA.
Water Intake Helps Ease Joint Pain and Boosts Joint Health
It’s important to keep your joints in tip-top shape if you have psoriatic arthritis. Water helps maintain all body functions, many of which affect your joints.
“There are no research studies, to my knowledge, that study the effects of dehydration specifically in patients with arthritis, but adequate hydration, in general, is important for joint health,” says Paras Karmacharya, MBBS, an instructor in the division of rheumatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Water is a necessary component of synovial fluid, which is the layer of liquid that cushions your joints and prevents friction when you move. Without ample water, your body may not produce enough of this fluid.
Additionally, hydration is essential for keeping the tissue lining of your joints — called cartilage — lubricated and healthy.
Dr. Karmacharya points out that adequate hydration is also important for the health of ligaments and tendons, which are often affected by psoriatic arthritis.
“Psoriatic arthritis itself should not make you more prone to dehydration. But we know that synovial fluid, cartilage cells, tendons, and ligaments all require water to reduce friction and maintain good motion between the joints. Therefore, not drinking enough water may lead to joint pain,” says Karmacharya.
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Proper hydration will also flush toxins from the body, which may reduce inflammation, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Hydration and Your Skin Health
Much of the body’s cells and tissues are composed of fluid. In fact, about 64 percent of your skin is made of water.
Although studies on the topic are limited, there’s reason to believe that drinking plenty of water keeps skin hydrated, which may reduce symptoms of psoriasis in people with psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is characterized by rashes that are itchy, scaly, patchy, and red.
A small study published in the journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology compared mildly dehydrated people with well-hydrated people. The researchers examined two groups of women: one group consumed less than 3.2 liters of water a day and another consumed more than 3.2 liters of water per day. When the second group added 2 liters of water per day for one month, researchers saw it improved their skin physiology.
Still, more research is needed to confirm a link between water consumption and skin health.
Psoriatic Arthritis Medications and Water Intake
The treatments you take for psoriatic arthritis could affect your body’s hydration levels.
Karmacharya says commonly prescribed medicines, such as methotrexate and apremilast (Otezla), can cause diarrhea in some patients. “This, in turn, can lead to dehydration if [you’re] not adequately hydrated to account for the fluid loss,” he says.
People who take these medicines may want to be extra vigilant about consuming enough water throughout the day.
Water May Help You Lose Weight
Consuming enough water may aid weight loss efforts, which could be helpful if you have psoriatic arthritis.
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Research published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy in 2019 found that an 18 percent loss of body weight can result in a significant reduction in joint pain, swelling, and fatigue for obese women with psoriatic arthritis.
Signs of Dehydration in People With Psoriatic Arthritis
Dehydration happens when you don’t have a sufficient amount of water in your body.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, some signs of dehydration are:
- Feeling tired or weak
- Dry mouth or skin
- Flushed skin
- Dark-colored urine or very little urination
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Your daily target water consumption may depend on your age, gender, activity level, and the medicines you take.
Though there aren’t any specific hydration guidelines for people with psoriatic arthritis, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend that:
- Adult women consume 2.7 liters (about 11 cups) of total water per day
- Adult men consume 3.7 liters (about 16 cups) of total water per day
This total water intake doesn’t have to come solely from beverages; water in the foods you eat also counts.
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Tips to Stay Hydrated With Psoriatic Arthritis
Sometimes, simple measures can motivate you to stay hydrated. For instance, Covert says the type of container she chooses for her water helps keep her on track.
“Use a water bottle that can hold a full day’s worth of water,” she suggests. “I like the kind that has markings showing how much water you should have had by a certain time when I’m away from home.”
Karmacharya encourages his patients to use techniques that make drinking water a daily habit. “For example, drinking a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning, or pairing it with things that you normally do, such as grabbing a glass of water after each bathroom break or each meal,” he explains.
Here are some other ideas for staying hydrated.
- Set an alarm. Simply setting your phone alarm can alert you when it’s time to drink up.
- Add natural flavor. Sliced lemons and limes can enhance the flavor of your water.
- Eat water-dense foods. Foods like salad, watermelon, and soups contain a lot of water.
- Use an app. Daily Water Free or Daily Water track your water consumption.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. These substances can dehydrate you.
- Drink fluids in the heat. You’re more likely to become dehydrated in hot weather, so be sure to drink plenty of water if you’re exercising or in the sun.
Recap on Hydration, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Your Health
Staying hydrated might help lessen symptoms for people with psoriatic arthritis.
Water plays a key role in helping your body perform important functions. Your joints and skin may feel healthier if you consume sufficient fluids. And, drinking water may also help you keep your weight in check.
“Small, healthy habits can add up to create a huge benefit in the long run,” says Karmacharya.
But don’t drink too much water. Per the Cleveland Clinic, overdoing it can lead to a potentially serious condition known as hyponatremia, which causes the sodium in your body to become diluted.
Your healthcare provider or a dietitian can help you set water consumption goals if you have psoriatic arthritis.