Is Psoriasis Contagious?

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Guttate psoriasis is more common in young adults and children. It can happen after you get an infection like strep throat and produce lesions that look like small drops on your abdomen, arms, or legs.

Inverse psoriasis primarily affects the groin, butt, and breast areas. The patches are smooth and tend to get worse when you sweat a lot or experience a lot of friction.

Pustular psoriasis is rare and causes sores that are filled with pus. You may get them in your palms or the soles of your feet.

Erythrodermic psoriasis is uncommon and causes a peeling, burning rash that can appear on your entire body.

You may read articles or hear other people discuss psoriatic arthritis in conjunction with psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis is another autoimmune condition that causes painful, swollen joints. Having psoriasis increases your risk of developing psoriatic arthritis, so it’s important to let your doctor know of any joint symptoms you develop, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

What causes psoriasis?

Experts aren’t clear why some people develop psoriasis, according to the Mayo Clinic1.

Researchers have some theories, though, and it involves a combination of genetics and environmental factors9. “Certain inherited genes have been found to increase the likelihood that an individual will develop psoriasis,” Dr. Agbai says. “People with this genetic predisposition to develop psoriasis can develop psoriasis plaques after exposure to environmental triggers such as infection or certain medications,” Dr Agbai says. Sometimes, there’s no clear event, like having an infection, that triggers psoriasis. “In those individuals, genetic predisposition is thought to be the primary cause,” Dr. Agbai says

What are psoriasis triggers?

It’s important to understand your specific psoriasis triggers, Dr. Wassef says. “Despite a great treatment plan, if you are still getting exposed to your psoriasis triggers, you will still flare,” she says. “Finding and eliminating your triggers can help decrease the amount of medicine you use and limit the number of flares you have.”

You may need to do some detective work to figure out your triggers, but keeping a journal that documents your symptoms, the timing of your flare, the weather conditions, your diet, and stress levels may help you pinpoint specific triggers if you have any. “Not everybody with psoriasis can link their flares to certain triggers,” Dr. Agbai says. “In those individuals, genetic predisposition is thought to be the primary cause,” Dr. Agbai says.

Psoriasis triggers include1:

  1. Living in cold, dry climates
  2. Having skin injuries, like a cut, scrape, or sunburn
  3. Experiencing stress
  4. Smoking or chronically being exposed to secondhand smoke
  5. Suddenly discontinuing an oral or systemic corticosteroids

Can psoriasis spread?

Even though it may look similar to skin infections that spread through skin-to-skin contact, psoriasis is not contagious. “Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease and is in no way contagious because it is not related to any infection,” Susan Massick9, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, tells SELF.

“No one will get psoriasis by touching it or a person with psoriasis,” Dr. Wassef says. “It is one of the biggest misconceptions and a lot of stigma related to psoriasis has to do with this false belief,” she says.

Of course, there are other causes of bumps and rashes that you could develop on your skin that can be contagious. While doctors stress the importance of getting a proper diagnosis when you’re dealing with unusual bumps or rashes, there can be some signs that you have psoriasis over something else.

“Psoriasis is often confused for fungal skin infections,” Dr. Wassef says. Psoriasis patches tend to be either pink, dark brown, purple, or gray in color and have raised rashes with scales, she explains. Fungal rashes can also appear in the same colors and be raised but the edges of the rash spread out, Dr. Wassef says. The center of fungal rash such as ringworm10 usually appears normal and isn’t discolored. “This clearing in the center is not seen in psoriasis,” Dr. Wassef says.

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