Is psoriasis contagious? This and five other psoriasis myths debunked

There’s a lot of information out there about psoriasis, but not all of it is the truth. And unfortunately, it’s often the common misconceptions that people hear about the most. So we thought, why not debunk the myths once and for all? Here goes.

Myth #1 Psoriasis is contagious

We’re not even sure what more to say about this one other than it simply not true! Psoriasis is not an infection, but an autoimmune disease1 – and it can’t be passed on through contact with the affected skin. This type of information is important in helping to educate others.

Myth #2 Psoriasis is caused by poor hygiene

This couldn’t be more wrong! Psoriasis has nothing to do with hygiene and everything to do with bad luck – we now know the condition is caused by a combination of genes that make you more susceptible, plus environmental triggers such as infection, stress, or exposure to a particular agent. This causes the immune system to send out signals that speed the growth of skin cells. Rather than slough off like normal skin cells, these pile up to form those characteristic plaques1.

    Psoriasis

    Myth #3 Psoriasis is easy to diagnose

    Not always. In most cases, diagnosis of psoriasis is fairly straightforward, but occasionally your doctor will need to take a small sample of skin to determine the exact type of psoriasis and to rule out other disorders2. That said, the condition differs from person to person, which is why it’s so important to see a doctor.

    Myth #4 Psoriasis is just a rash

    Not true. It’s actually a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation throughout the body.1 We now know, for example that psoriasis is linked to a higher risk of obesity,3 diabetes,4 high blood pressure,5 high cholesterol,6 heart attack, and stroke.7 The symptoms aren’t just limited to the skin, either. Around 40% of people with psoriasis find their joints are also affected – a painful, disabling condition known as psoriatic arthritis.8 So if anybody tries to dismiss your psoriasis as ‘just a rash’, be sure to hit them with the facts.

    Myth #5 It will eventually just go away

    Sadly not. The symptoms may disappear, but psoriasis is a chronic condition, so they may well return.9 Psoriasis might be a life-long condition but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Speak to your doctor who will be able to advise you on the best way to manage yours.

    So there are the facts. Now go forth and set the world straight. There might not be a cure for psoriasis (yet), but facts are definitely a cure for misinformation!

    References

    1Website “NHS” – Causes of Psoriasis. Last accessed: 19 July 2019 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/causes/

    2Website “Mayo Clinic” – Psoriasis, Tests and diagnosis. Last accessed: 19 July 2019

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355845

    3The association between psoriasis and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Armstrong AW1, Harskamp CT, Armstrong EJ. Nutr Diabetes. 2012 Dec 3;2:e54. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=23208415

    4Psoriasis and diabetes: a population-based cross-sectional study. Cohen AD, Dreiher J, Shapiro Y, Vidavsky L, Vardy DA, Davidovici B, Meyerovitch J. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 May;22(5):585-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=18331320

    5Effect of psoriasis severity on hypertension control: a population-based study in the United Kingdom. Takeshita J, Wang S, Shin DB, Mehta NN, Kimmel SE, Margolis DJ, Troxel AB, Gelfand JM. JAMA Dermatol. 2015 Feb;151(2):161-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=25322196

    6Website “American Academy of Dermatology” – Dermatologists urge psoriasis patients to be aware of potential link to other serious diseases. Last accessed: 09.10.15. https://www.aad.org/stories-and-news/news-releases/dermatologists-urge-psoriasis-patients-to-be-aware-of-potential-link-to-other-serious-diseases

    7Website “MedScape” – Psoriasis: Why Does it Come With a Greater Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke? Last accessed: 09.10.15. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/772802

    8Mease, P. et al. Managing Patients with Psoriatic Disease: The Diagnosis and Pharmacologic Treatment of Psoriatic Arthritis in Patients with Psoriasis. Drugs 2014; 74: 423-441

    9Website “NHS” – Overview of Psoriasis. Last accessed: 19 July 2019 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/

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