Is Psoriasis Contagious? Answering Your Questions About Psoriasis

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

Psoriasis is an immunologically mediated skin condition that typically causes a rash with itchy, scaly patches. It is a frequent, chronic condition that has no cure.

This condition frequently goes through cycles where it will flare up for a few weeks or months before decreasing. The causes are largely unknown, but it is characterized by inflammation brought on by immune system failure. This happens due to the immune system’s overreaction, which accelerates skin cell proliferation.

Continue reading to find the answers to some of the most common questions about psoriasis.

Is psoriasis hereditary?

While genetics may be involved in psoriasis, people with no family history of psoriasis develop it too. So while it seems at least partially hereditary, there are other factors that also play a role.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, certain genes are required for the disease to manifest itself. However, even if you carry the gene, you may not get the illness. Environmental factors can cause this illness to manifest if you do have these genes.

A person applying cream on their hands to treat psoriasis

According to research, children have a 75 percent chance of having psoriasis if both parents have the condition and a 15 percent chance if only one parent has the condition.

Therefore, if you have psoriasis, it does not necessarily mean that your kids will too. The likelihood of other siblings acquiring psoriasis is 20 percent if a brother or sister has the condition but not the parents.

What does psoriasis look like?

Psoriasis comes in various forms, some of which might even happen simultaneously. It often manifests as raised, scaly patches on the skin. Sometimes, it may also have plaques, which are white scales. This can cause tight, cracked, or bleeding skin and itchy, painful, and burning sensations.

Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body, but it is most commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back.

While psoriasis can vary in severity, most people with the condition will experience at least some redness, inflammation, and itching. The symptoms of psoriasis can sometimes be confused with the symptoms of other similar diseases (e.g., dandruff). A dermatologist can determine if a skin condition is psoriasis or dandruff.

Is psoriasis painful?

Psoriasis can sometimes be painful, especially when exposed to its triggers. The inflamed patches and itchiness in particular can make psoriasis painful and uncomfortable.

Are psoriasis and eczema related?

No, they are not. Psoriasis and eczema are distinct conditions. While both skin illnesses are accompanied by itching and might sometimes look similar, their causes, triggering factors, and treatments differ.

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Eczema and psoriasis are not communicable. Eczema has been said to be more genetically transferred than psoriasis, while psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder.

Is psoriasis contagious?

No, it’s not. Psoriasis is not brought on by a contagious infection or bacteria, in contrast to some other skin disorders, including scabies and impetigo. While touching someone with psoriasis won’t spread it, if you already have the condition, it can spread to other parts of your body.

How does psoriasis spread?

Psoriasis does not spread from person to person, but it can spread around the body when there is a flare-up. Flare-ups can be triggered by a few things, such as stress, an infection in the body, smoking, too much alcohol, obesity, or a cut on the skin. When a flare-up occurs, a patch can suddenly grow larger, and new patches can also appear on other body parts.

Can psoriasis cause hair loss?

Hair loss due to scalp psoriasis is possible (particularly if someone roughly and regularly scratches their scalp to relieve itchiness), but it’s only temporary and can be rectified once the psoriasis is treated.

A woman tossing her hair wondering if psoriasis can cause hair loss

Removing scales on the scalp by force can also lead to hair loss. Other times, hair loss is a side effect of some of the drugs that have been recommended to treat psoriasis. This is because some psoriasis medications reduce the growth of new cells. This reduction sometimes affects the hair follicles too.

What are psoriasis healing stages?

Will psoriasis ever go away? While it doesn’t completely go away, it can go into remission if the symptoms are treated and controlled. This is commonly achieved in three stages of healing psoriasis.

  • The first stage of healing psoriasis involves the use of ointments. These ointments are usually applied directly to the skin, and they include topical corticosteroids, anthralin, coal tar, vitamin D ointment, and vitamin A ointment.
  • The second stage makes use of UV light therapy, or an artificial form of light that uses UVB wavelength. Another option here is the use of PUVA, which combines oral drugs with an artificial form of UVA light.
  • The third stage involves oral retinoids, a powerful form of vitamin A, other oral medications, and biologics that work through injections.

Wondering if psoriasis can kill you? Fear not. It can’t kill you, and it can be well managed using various treatments.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that can be unpredictable. Due to the similarities with other skin infections, you should visit a dermatologist as soon as you observe any symptoms. That way, you will be quickly diagnosed and can commence a treatment and management plan immediately.

March 7, 2023