5 Myths About Psoriasis — Debunked

There are many facts” or pieces of com­mon knowl­edge that we take at face val­ue. Like that bulls hate the col­or red or gold­fish have a 3‑second mem­o­ry. In real­i­ty, these aren’t facts at all — just myths that get repeat­ed over and over. 

When it comes to bulls and gold­fish, these myths prob­a­bly aren’t harm­ing any­one. But when it comes to med­ical con­di­tions, myths can have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on someone’s phys­i­cal or men­tal health. 

Skin con­di­tions in par­tic­u­lar are often sur­round­ed by mis­in­for­ma­tion — espe­cial­ly pso­ri­a­sis. Unlearn­ing some of what we know is a nec­es­sary step in decreas­ing stig­ma and help­ing peo­ple live health­i­er, hap­pi­er lives.

August is Pso­ri­a­sis Aware­ness Month, and pso­ri­a­sis is one con­di­tion that has many myths around it. Here are 5 things you might think you know about pso­ri­a­sis that are actu­al­ly myths. 

Myth 1: You Can Catch” Psoriasis

Unlike the com­mon cold or the flu, pso­ri­a­sis is not some­thing that can be passed from per­son to per­son. Pso­ri­a­sis is not con­ta­gious, and you will not get pso­ri­a­sis from inter­act­ing with some­one who has it or from skin-to-skin con­tact.

Pso­ri­a­sis is actu­al­ly an autoim­mune dis­ease, which means that it is caused when your body has an over­ac­tive immune sys­tem and begins to attack oth­er parts of your body, like tis­sue (such as skin). This attack shows up when your body cre­ates new skin cells too quick­ly, caus­ing them to form thick, scaly patch­es on your skin. 

If you have any of these symp­toms or sus­pect that you might have pso­ri­a­sis, reach out to your Duly Health And Care der­ma­tol­o­gist.

Myth 2: If You Have Pso­ri­a­sis, It’s Your Fault”

These thick, scaly patch­es of skin are called plaques,” and they are not your fault. Con­trary to some pop­u­lar beliefs, pso­ri­a­sis is not caused by bad hygiene. Pso­ri­a­sis is thought to be passed through fam­i­lies and to have a genet­ic com­po­nent.

While there is noth­ing you did to cause your pso­ri­a­sis, it can be help­ful to think about the fac­tors that might be lead­ing to flare-ups or mak­ing your symp­toms worse.

Com­mon Pso­ri­a­sis Triggers

Dif­fer­ent envi­ron­men­tal or emo­tion­al fac­tors can make your pso­ri­a­sis worse — these are called trig­gers.” Some com­mon pso­ri­a­sis trig­gers include:

  • Stress
  • Weath­er (either cold OR warm)
  • Injury or illness 
  • Smok­ing or drinking 
  • Shav­ing
  • Pierc­ings or tattoos

To help man­age trig­gers, keep track of the events that occur sur­round­ing a flare-up. Was some­thing stress­ful hap­pen­ing at work, or was there a change in the weath­er? After record­ing your obser­va­tions, bring them to your Duly der­ma­tol­o­gist to fig­ure out your next steps.

Myth 3: There’s Only One Kind of Psoriasis 

There are many dif­fer­ent types of pso­ri­a­sis, and they all show up on the skin a lit­tle dif­fer­ent­ly:

  • Plaque pso­ri­a­sis is the most com­mon pso­ri­a­sis, affect­ing between 80% to 90% of pso­ri­a­sis patients. Plaque pso­ri­a­sis looks like sil­ver, thick, raised patch­es of skin that often form on the elbows, knees, back, or scalp.
  • Gut­tate pso­ri­a­sis is the form of pso­ri­a­sis that most often affects chil­dren. Unlike oth­er forms of pso­ri­a­sis, it often appears as lit­tle, scaly spots.
  • Nail pso­ri­a­sis can form along­side any oth­er type of pso­ri­a­sis. It can look like your nails pit­ting, crum­bling, sep­a­rat­ing from the skin, or form­ing yellow/​brown spots.
  • Pus­tu­lar pso­ri­a­sis is a rar­er form of pso­ri­a­sis and it often occurs on the hand and feet in the form of scaly skin and blis­ters that are painful and pus-filled.

No two cas­es of pso­ri­a­sis are exact­ly the same, and oth­er forms of pso­ri­a­sis will also show up dif­fer­ent­ly than the ones list­ed above. For a com­plete list of dif­fer­ent types of pso­ri­a­sis — and what they look like — vis­it the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Der­ma­tol­o­gists’ pho­to gallery.

Myth 4: Pso­ri­a­sis Only Affects Your Skin 

Some peo­ple might think that pso­ri­a­sis is just a skin con­di­tion — and that it only caus­es cos­met­ic or sur­face-lev­el dis­com­fort for those who have it. This couldn’t be far­ther from the truth.

Pso­ri­a­sis is a dis­ease that can impact all aspects of a person’s life — from their social and roman­tic inter­ac­tions to their gen­er­al men­tal and phys­i­cal health. Pso­ri­a­sis is often asso­ci­at­ed with comor­bidi­ties, which is when some­one has two or more dis­eases or health con­di­tions at the same time.

Some com­mon comor­bidi­ties that are seen when some­one has pso­ri­a­sis are:

  • Arthri­tis
  • Depres­sion
  • Car­dio­vas­cu­lar diseases
  • Inflam­ma­to­ry Bow­el Syn­drome (IBS)

Man­ag­ing comor­bidi­ties is a key part of man­ag­ing your pso­ri­a­sis — and health in gen­er­al. That’s why it’s so impor­tant to sched­ule and attend your annu­al well­ness vis­it.

Myth 5: If You Have Pso­ri­a­sis, There’s Noth­ing You Can Do About It

While there is no cure” for pso­ri­a­sis, there are many dif­fer­ent kinds of treat­ment that can help you man­age or decrease your symptoms. 

At Duly, our der­ma­tol­o­gists can help you devel­op a treat­ment plan to address your pso­ri­a­sis that might include:

  • Top­i­cal treat­ments: Creams, lotions, or oint­ments that you apply to your skin
  • Pho­tother­a­py: Appoint­ments with your der­ma­tol­o­gist where you under­go expo­sure to ultra­vi­o­let (UV) light under med­ical super­vi­sion (not the same (and safer) than just going to a tan­ning salon)
  • Sys­temic med­ica­tions: Pre­scrip­tion drugs that can be inject­ed or tak­en orally

Togeth­er, We Can Treat Your Psoriasis

At Duly, our team of der­ma­tol­o­gists can diag­nose and treat your pso­ri­a­sis. We will work to under­stand your con­di­tion, how it’s affect­ing your day-to-day life, and pro­vide resources to help man­age trig­gers and flare-ups. 

While pso­ri­a­sis is a con­di­tion that is sur­round­ed by a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion, we can change how peo­ple view and respond to it. By address­ing com­mon myths, we can help reduce the stig­ma that comes with pso­ri­a­sis and cre­ate a bet­ter future for those liv­ing with it.

If you have symp­toms or ques­tions about pso­ri­a­sis, reach out to your Duly Health And Care pri­ma­ry care provider, or find a der­ma­tol­o­gist near you.

  • Tahmina Mahmood, MD, Itasca Dermatologist

    At a young age, we were all taught the Golden Rule - the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated - and this is how I strive to provide care for my patients. I am a "people person", and thoroughly enjoy getting to know and build genuine relationships with my patients. I hope this allows patients to feel comfortable during their visit and continue trusting me with their care. I look forward to seeing you and helping you feel more confident about your skin!