How Do You Get Psoriasis?

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • 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.

Ask the experts

How do you get psoriasis?

Doctor's response

The exact cause remains unknown. A combination of elements, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors, are involved. It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family. Defects in immune regulation (white blood cells called T cells mistakenly target healthy cells instead of attacking foreign substances) and the control of inflammation are thought to play major roles. Despite research over the past 30 years, the "master switch" that turns on psoriasis is still a mystery.

A person cannot catch it from someone else, and one cannot pass it to anyone else by skin-to-skin contact. Directly touching someone with psoriasis every day will never transmit the condition.

Although psoriasis is not contagious from person to person, there is a known hereditary tendency. Therefore, family history is very helpful in making the diagnosis.

Most patients with psoriasis seem to be overweight. Since there is a predisposition for those patients to develop cardiovascular disease and diabetes, it is suggested strongly that they try to maintain a normal body weight. Although evidence is sparse, it has been suggested that slender patients are more likely to respond to treatment.

Although dietary studies are notoriously difficult to perform and interpret, it seems likely that a diet whose fat content is composed of polyunsaturated oils like olive oil and fish oil is beneficial for psoriasis. The so-called Mediterranean diet is an example.

For more information, read our full medical article on psoriasis

REFERENCES:

"Psoriasis in children: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis"
UpToDate.com

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Reviewed on 10/4/2017