Is Psoriasis Contagious? Demystifying Myths with 4 Types Explored

Psoriasis is a common skin condition, which is known to affect about 3% of the world’s population. It is an auto-immune disease that occurs on the skin as recurrent flare-ups and rough patches of skin in normal cases as pus-filled lesions in some cases and even burn-like rashes in extreme cases.

Psoriasis doesn’t have a specific target age group as it may occur in any age group. However, certain types are seen to be occurring in certain age groups.

Now, is psoriasis truly contagious?

1775399 psoriasis in the ear and neck 2
Source: by Farina6000/ UnlimPhotos

Types of Psoriasis

There are multiple kinds of psoriasis observed in the population including the much more common plaque psoriasis (1) that occurs on the scalp and the drier regions of the skin including the elbows and knees. Plaque psoriasis onset is much more commonly observed in the age groups of 20-30 years or 50-60 years.

A much less common Guttate psoriasis (2) occurs on the limbs and areas around the chest and the onset of guttate psoriasis is normally below the age of 30. This type of psoriasis occurs as small lesion dots all over the body.

9429338 person with plaque psoriasis of the arm
Source: by Farina6000/ UnlimPhotos

Inverse psoriasis (3) on the other hand occurs as smooth inflamed patches of skin in the skin folds. Mostly it affects areas such as under the breasts and armpits. This type of psoriasis is said to be triggered due to sweat and continuous friction on the skin.

Pustular psoriasis (4) is a much rare type of psoriasis that includes pus-filled lesions. And the rarest of the types of psoriasis includes Erythrodermic psoriasis which is a life-threatening disease that spreads all over the body. Only 3% of all psoriasis cases are said to be erythrodermic. The most observable feature of this type of psoriasis is burn-like rashes that occur all over the body.

What Causes Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a genetic-level autoimmune skin condition. So, it is extremely likely to be passed on through family history. It can also occur through possible mutations that occur before birth or after. Other risk factors include underlying autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or alopecia.

Environmental factors like stress, anxiety, and frequent exposure to the sun can trigger the breakage of skin cells and cause severe psoriasis. Lifestyle factors and previous health conditions might also lead to developing psoriasis.


What Parts of My Body Will Psoriasis Affect?

Psoriasis affects all parts of the body, including the nails in the form of nail psoriasis, scalp, and skin cells of various locations of the body.

Other issues caused by psoriasis include psoriatic arthritis, which causes joint pains.

Scalp psoriasis is often confused with dandruff and misdiagnosed. Dandruff is caused by fungal skin infections. In both cases, flaky skin patches are observed, so it is necessary to consult a dermatologist.

is psoriasis contagious
Source: by PongMoji/ UnlimPhotos

Psoriasis is also common in skin folds and may occur as smooth inflamed skin as opposed to the usual rough scaly patches. This type of skin disease is called guttate psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis may show up as pus-filled lesions.

Should You Be Worried?

Psoriasis, particularly pustular psoriasis appears to be contagious from the outside. Scaly patches of psoriasis though appearance-wise look extremely contagious, but they are not. Psoriasis is not contagious or an infectious disease that spreads via direct contact as it is not a bacterial infection or fungal.

It was previously assumed and is a myth that psoriasis spreads through direct contact with lesions but has been proved otherwise by the research.

Psoriasis is primarily transmitted via family as it is a genetic skin disease in which the immune system of the patient fails and acts upon their own skin cells and kills them.

This causes the old skin cells to pile up and obstruct the new ones and cause inflammation. It may also occur due to mutations and other underlying autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and alopecia.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

The psoriatic disease can occur anywhere on the skin. Unlike healthy skin cells, psoriasis occurs as rough inflamed cells that appear as irritated lesions. These lesions might be limited to one area or occur all over the body as dry, scaly patches or sometimes pus-filled lesions. Other symptoms might be burn-like rashes all over the body.

Psoriasis triggers skin discoloration, heart disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Psoriasis may show up along with psoriatic arthritis as joint pain. Cracked skin, scaly skin, pus-filled bumps, and intense itching are also a few signs of psoriasis. Nail psoriasis may also occur due to an overactive immune system.

Being an autoimmune disease, one must medically diagnose psoriasis to prevent the progression of psoriasis. A skin biopsy must be conducted to confirm the disease.

How Do I Treat Psoriasis?

Psoriasis can be treated using light therapy or phototherapy as the first treatment options. Phototherapy may include ultraviolet light exposure or laser therapy depending on how severe the skin condition is.

Oral and injected medicine that contains steroids or retinoids may also be used if prescribed.

To manage symptoms of psoriasis, topical treatments, like topical steroid creams, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and coal tar treatments are prescribed. Topical treatments come in the form of creams, ointments, and lotions. In case of scalp psoriasis, psoriatic shampoos, and gels can also be used.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who Does Psoriasis Affect and How Common Is It?

Psoriasis affects nearly 3% of the human population, hence it is considered a common skin condition. Though younger age groups tend to be more susceptible due to increased immune activity.

2. What Does Psoriasis Look Like?

Psoriasis generally manifests as scaly, dry skin called psoriasis plaques. However, plaque formation might not be necessary as in guttate psoriasis inflamed skin is observed. In the case of pustular psoriasis, pus-filled lesions may be observed.

In Erythrodermic psoriasis, rashes resembling burns are formed. Small lesions and smooth patches of inflamed skin are also common.

3. What are the Types of Psoriasis?

Psoriasis has various forms. The observed types of psoriasis are guttate psoriasis which occurs in the skin folds, inverse psoriasis which occurs as small lesions that are smooth, plaque psoriasis is the most common with plaque formation. None of the forms of psoriasis are said to be truly contagious.

The other not-so-normal types of psoriasis include pustular psoriasis which is identified by lesions that are pus-filled and Erythrodermic psoriasis which is characterized by burn-like rashes.

4. What Causes Psoriasis Outbreaks?

Psoriasis may be triggered by various environmental factors like allergens irritants or even sunlight. Mental stresses, anxiety, and panic disorders are common triggers of psoriasis outbreaks.

Even absence of these environmental factors psoriasis is likely to flare due to autoimmunity.

5. What are the Common Psoriasis Treatments?

Depending on your condition, your healthcare provider can suggest the following treatments to help reduce the symptoms;

  1. Topical creams contain either salicylic acid, lactic acid, steroids, or even retinoids.
  2. Shampoos and gels targeted towards scalp psoriasis.
  3. Light therapy or phototherapy utilizes Ultraviolet light or laser.
  4. Injected or oral medicines containing steroids or retinoids.

6. How Does a Person Get Psoriasis?

Psoriasis occurs if skin cells become damaged faster than normal skin cells due to autoimmunity or our immunity acting on our own skin. Dead skin cells pile up on top of continuously regenerating skin cells. It is said to be genetic in origin. However, the statement that suggests that ‘psoriasis is truly contagious’ must be dismissed.

Emotional stress, alcoholism, and other environmental factors may trigger psoriasis.

7. Does Psoriasis Spread If You Scratch It?

Psoriasis is not an infection that easily spreads via touch or itching. This again disproves the question “is psoriasis truly contagious”. But, scratching can make psoriasis flare up even more and may cause the pain to increase.

8. Is Psoriasis Bacterial or Fungal?

Psoriasis is often confused with dandruff and ringworm, both of which are fungal-borne infections.

However, psoriasis is neither fungal nor bacterial but an autoimmune disease that makes our own immune system attack our own cells. Thus, it can’t even be transmitted from one person to another via touch.

9. Is Psoriasis Truly Contagious?

Psoriasis, particularly pustular psoriasis appears to be contagious. Scaly patches of psoriasis though appearance-wise look extremely contagious, they are not. Psoriasis is not contagious via direct contact as it is not a bacterial infection or fungal infection.

Psoriasis is primarily transmitted through family or genetic phylogeny. Hence, we can safely dismiss the statement that says psoriasis is truly contagious.

10. Is Psoriasis Life-threatening?

The normal cases of psoriasis are not life-threatening or anything near to it. But Erythrodermic psoriasis which occurs as a burn-like rash is. It may show up with the symptoms of fever, chills, and dehydration and requires immediate medical attention.

11. How Can One Control Psoriasis Flares?

Disease control can be performed by making sure that there are no environmental triggers like reducing alcoholism, keeping away from allergens and irritants or even reducing mental stress. Topical steroids and other creams can use when the skin cracks and inflames to subside the symptoms. Certain medications can also be used for the same cause and must be prescribed by doctors.

Bhoomika has a keen eye on the global trends and advances in the fitness and healthcare sectors. Hence, she provides facts based and "healthy" content. Education: Pursuing degree in life sciences, specializing at Microbiology, Biotechnology and…

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