Short answer: Is Psoriasis contagious? No, however it is believed to be genetic.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is commonly referred to simply as a skin condition, but is actually a disease of the immune system. Psoriasis usually begins between ages fifteen and thirty-five and affects up to 7.5 million Americans. There are five different types of Psoriasis, in which Plaque is most common. Plaque Psoriasisis is characterized by red lesions covered by white, scaly skin and usually gathers around the scalp, knees, elbows, and back. Guttate Psoriasis consists of red spots on the arms, legs, and torso and most often begins in childhood and adolescence. Inverse Psoriasis appears as shiny, red lesions in folds of skin, such as under the breasts, near the groin, armpits, and buttocks. Pustular Psoriasis consists of pus-filled blisters and red skin that either congregate on certain areas of the body, or the entire body for some. Lastly, Erythrodermic Psoriasis is made up of red skin and shedding of scaly sheets of skin and is found on most of the body.
Causes of Psoriasis:
One cause of Psoriasis is genetics. Often people with Psoriasis also have family members with the disease. Environment also plays a role, including: stress; medications; injuries such as cuts, sunburns, scrapes; and bacteria, viruses, and infections. Lastly, and most importantly, is an overactive immune system. Psoriasis victims’ immune systems attack healthy skin cells, as if infected, causing the body to produce skin cells at a rapid rate. While the average human body takes weeks to cycle through skin cells, those with Psoriasis takes only days, causing the skin to be pushed to the surface and thus creating irritation. People with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS, those who have undergone chemotherapy, and those with autoimmune deficiencies may experience the worst cases of Psoriasis.
Symptoms of Psoriasis:
-Dry, cracked, and/or bleeding skin
-Small, red spots
-Burning, itching, sore skin
-Raised, thick, inflamed skin that is red or pink in color
-Changes in nails (brown in color, pitted, thickened, separated from the skin)
-Silvery, scaly skin
-Joint pain or aching
-Sores on the groin (for males)
It is important to know that alcohol, smoking, skin-related injury, stress, and cold weather may cause Psoriasis to worsen.
Is Psoriasis contagious?
Psoriasis is NOT contagious. Coming in skin-to-skin contact with a person diagnosed with Psoriasis will not result in obtaining the disease. However, genetically, Psoriasis can be passed on.
It is important to be informed about Psoriasis and to treat those with the disease respectfully. Being diagnosed with Psoriasis is stressful enough without people treating them differently.
A doctor can typically diagnoses Psoriasis by viewing the skin, though sometimes skin biopsies (scrapings) are performed. If joint pain is present, X-Rays are sometimes given.
The purpose of treatment is to calm the symptoms and prevent infections. There are two types of treatment: natural and prescription.
There are an abundance of natural remedies out there, so why not try them first? After all, they are much better for your skin and much more inexpensive. Here are some ideas:
-Moisturize your skin frequently with lotion or Aloe
-Raise the humidity of your residence with a humidifier. Dry air equals dry skin!
-Wrap your dry areas in plastic wrap to hold in moisture
-Choose gentle soaps that won’t dry out your skin
-Avoid alcohol and smoking
-Keep your stress level to a minimum, if possible
-Sunlight provides vitamins that help relieve symptoms, but too much sun can dry the skin out, thus causing more irritation and flare-ups
-Bath regularly to keep affected areas clean
-Rub your scalp down with olive oil as a moisturizer
If none of these tricks seem to do the trick, then ask your doctor what prescriptions may be right for you. Here are some of the options that might be presented to you:
-Topical: lotion, dandruff shampoo, cortisone creams, ointments, medications that include Vitamins A and D
-Medications that suppress the immune system from rapidly creating new skin cells: Enbrel, Humera, Stelera, Remicade, Amevive
-Phototherapy: supplies skin with UVB rays that slows the growth of infected skin cells
-Antiobotics, if infected. Infections should be taken care of immediately.
Psoriasis is non preventable and is a lifelong disease. Symptoms can be suppressed and many things can be done to prevent outbreaks.