Is Psoriasis Contagious?

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Psoriasis Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin inflammation. Psoriasis causes areas of the skin to be reddish with thick silvery, dry scales. Psoriasis can be itchy and sometimes painful. Psoriasis is a persistent disease that is caused by a misdirected immune system. Inherited genes and certain environmental conditions may also play a significant role in the development of psoriasis.

Is psoriasis contagious?

No. Psoriasis is not contagious. Psoriasis is not transmitted sexually or by physical contact. Psoriasis is not caused by lifestyle, diet, or bad hygiene.

While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, researchers consider environmental, genetic, and immune system factors as playing roles in the establishment of the disease. For example, environmental factors can trigger exacerbations of the disease, including cold weather, trauma, infections, alcohol intake, and some chemicals and/or drugs. Certain genes are more commonly found in people with psoriasis, and psoriasis commonly runs in families. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease whereby one's immune system is misdirected to cause inflammation in the skin. Current treatments often take advantage of this concept by modifying immune responses to improve psoriasis. Moreover, it is also known that, occasionally, after an immunological-related event occurs (for example, recovering from strep throat, after antimalarial drugs, or cessation of steroid therapy) there can be activation of psoriasis.

How long will it take for someone to know if he or she has psoriasis?

Psoriasis is diagnosed by the clinical appearance of reddish skin with silvery, white scales. Of note, there are different types of psoriasis (including pustular psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis) that are diagnosed by their appearance.

Can psoriasis spread?

Psoriasis is not contagious, so it can't spread from one person to another. However, in an individual, it is not unusual to have more than one area of skin involvement. Over time, additional body sites can develop psoriasis lesions. In general, psoriasis lesions develop on the elbows, knees, scalp, ears, low back, and between the buttocks.

Quick GuidePsoriasis Types, Images, Treatments

Psoriasis Types, Images, Treatments

Psoriasis Symptoms and Signs

Psoriasis appears as red or pink areas of thickened, raised, and scaling skin. It classically affects skin over the elbows, knees, and scalp. Although any area may be involved, it tends to be more common at sites of friction, scratching, or abrasion.

Is there a cure for psoriasis?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriasis. However, there are multiple ways to manage the disease. Medications, light therapy, stress reduction, adjunctive therapy sessions, moisturizers with salicylic acid, and sunlight are treatments. Some treatments can be used together. For best results, many clinicians suggest psoriasis be managed by a dermatologist skilled in treating this chronic disease.

When should someone consult a medical caregiver about psoriasis?

Psoriasis is not considered a medical emergency, but once a lesion or two develops on the skin that resembles the description for a psoriatic lesion, the individual should make a consultation with a dermatologist or an appointment with their doctor to consider initiating proper treatment.

REFERENCES:

Habashy, J. "Psoriasis." Medscape. Aug. 10, 2017. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1943419-overview>.

Meffert, Jeffrey. "Psoriasis Treatment & Management." Medscape.com. Jan. 22, 2015. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1943419-treatment>.

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Reviewed on 9/5/2017
References
REFERENCES:

Habashy, J. "Psoriasis." Medscape. Aug. 10, 2017. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1943419-overview>.

Meffert, Jeffrey. "Psoriasis Treatment & Management." Medscape.com. Jan. 22, 2015. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1943419-treatment>.

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