Things You Want to Know But Are Afraid to Ask

In my own experience, one of the more popular questions I've been asked about psoriasis is probably one you all can relate to: "Is psoriasis contagious?"

Of course, this can hurt emotionally. We're not unfamiliar with the rude comments and stares. What helps me sometimes is thinking through the situation if it were reversed. People are afraid of rashes and skin infections. Since psoriasis physically looks like an allergy, I understand why people may have concerns or feel the need to protect themselves.

Eliminating psoriasis stigma

Of course, this can only increase the stigma that comes with psoriasis and we, as those who live with the condition, hold the key to erasing this. By no means does this fall entirely on your flaky shoulders - we're all in charge of our efforts, and it's important we give ourselves the grace and space to manage this chronic condition.

I've decided to break down some questions about psoriasis that you may have encountered to make communicating and raising awareness about this painful disease a little bit easier. So here it is - things friends, loved ones, or even strangers want to know about psoriasis but may be afraid to ask.

Is psoriasis contagious?

Psoriasis is often treated like leprosy. Some people might be afraid of touching the affected places or touching a person affected by psoriasis, others might go even further and move away in public transportation or other public places.

But here's a spoiler: you can't catch psoriasis by touching someone who has it. And in case you're wondering you also can't catch it by having sex with someone who has it.

What causes psoriasis?

Psoriasis doesn't have as its primary cause an infection or inflammation of the skin. It doesn't 'just happen' to someone because of some sort of trigger without that person having the genetic foundation that leads to psoriasis.

Though the symptoms are visible on the skin and nails, the illness has to do with the immune system, and is an autoimmune disease.

The immune system of the person with psoriasis acts at the wrong times, and instead of fighting the actual diseases, the body attacks its cells. As a result, the affected skin cells react by growing way faster than normal skin, which makes them pile up and die, causing thick, red, and scaly patches. It's happening to everyone's skin on a significantly slower and smaller scale.

How do people get psoriasis?

While there are many theories about the origin of psoriasis, there is no straight answer. Some scientists claim that specific genes are responsible. Therefore they can often affect a few family members. I know what you're thinking now, as I was asked this on several occasions - if I get together with someone affected by psoriasis, will my kids have it too?

The answer is not necessarily. Would you check someone's entire family medical history for every disease, especially when it comes to predispositions? Probably not.

Does psoriasis ever go away?

Once something triggers psoriasis, it becomes a long-lasting condition.

Unfortunately, it doesn't ever fully go away, but it can be controlled with medication and proper therapy.The condition is genetic, and it has nothing to do with bad hygiene, bad diet or alcohol.

I'm often told not to bite my nails, while in fact, I've never done it – my nails are simply affected by psoriasis. Not all psoriasis types look the same.

Is psoriasis painful?

Yes, psoriasis might hurt a lot and it also itches. The itch itself may have a bigger impact on quality of life than the visible effect of the disease.

When it comes to pain each person experiences it differently. Some feel like the skin is burning. Others say it feels like hundreds of ants are biting them.

If someone is also affected by psoriasis arthritis, they will be experiencing chronic pain in their joints, along with swollen fingers and toes.

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