PsoriasisPsoriasis Causes

Let's Talk About the Causes of Psoriasis

If you have this itchy skin condition, you might be scratching your head trying to figure out how you got it. Here, the top reasons you’re seeing those telltale red spots and scales.

    Our Pro PanelPsoriasis Causes

    For the most up-to-date info on the causes of psoriasis, we reached out to top skin doctors across the country.

    April W. Armstrong, M.D. headshot.

    April W. Armstrong, M.D.Professor of Dermatology, Associate Dean for Clinical Research and Psoriasis Program Director

    Keck School of Medicine and Department of Dermatology at the University of Southern California (USC)
    Los Angeles, CA
    Mark Lebwohl, M.D.

    Mark Lebwohl, M.D.Chairman of the Kimberly and Eric J. Waldman Department of Dermatology

    Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai
    New York, NY
    Lawrence Eichenfield, M.D.

    Lawrence Eichenfield, M.D.Chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Dermatology, Professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics

    Rady Children's Hospital and University of California, San Diego School of Medicine
    San Diego, CA
    If stress seems to be a trigger for you, try yoga.
    Psoriasis Awareness Month

    #Save60 for Psoriasis Awareness Month!

    Psoriasis patients spend about an hour day managing symptoms. We’re here to help you #Save60 so you have more time for you.

    Frequently Asked QuestionsPsoriasis Causes

    Is psoriasis contagious?

    No. You can’t catch psoriasis from someone else or give it to someone. Psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune system and possibly genetics, combined with an environmental trigger. It is not caused by skin-to-skin contact.

    Yes. Foods and beverages known to increase inflammation and potentially worsen psoriasis are alcohol, processed sugars, dairy, gluten, and nightshade produce. On the other hand, a Mediterranean diet (fish, leafy greens, olive oil, whole grains) may ease psoriasis symptoms.

    If my mother has psoriasis, will I develop it?

    Genetics appears to play a major role in developing psoriasis so, yes, you’re more likely to get this skin condition than someone whose mother doesn’t have it. Your chances of inheriting psoriasis from one parent is 10%, so you’re not destined to get it. If both your mom and dad have it, your chances go up to 50%. Does your risk increase if a second-degree family has it (grandparents, aunts, uncles)? It appears to. In one study found of 380 people with plaque psoriasis, 16% had a secondary relative with the disease, and 5% had a third-degree relative (cousins, great-grandparents, etc.).

    Can skin conditions like eczema turn into psoriasis?

    Can’t happen. The two are unrelated and it’s unlikely you would have both skin conditions. Eczema is also thought to be caused by an overactive immune system and genes, but different ones. Many people with eczema have a gene mutation that makes them lack fillagrin, a protein that keeps your barrier strong and intact. Without enough of it, irritants, allergens, and bacteria get into the skin, causing an inflammatory response: eczema. Psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune system that causes a buildup of skin cells on skin’s surface, which turn into red, painful, and itchy patches.

    Krista Bennett DeMaio

    Krista Bennett DeMaio


    Krista Bennett DeMaio is a health and beauty writer living in Huntington, NY with her husband and three daughters.