Is Psoriasis Contagious?
Many people avoid contacting a person with psoriatic skin lesions fearing of contracting the disease, not even bothering to find out the answer to the common question: is psoriasis contagious or not? The answer is, however, no. Medical science has long ago stated that skin psoriasis is not an infectious disease, thus it is impossible to catch psoriasis from someone.
Most regrettably, many people do not see any difference between an infectious inflammation of the skin, such as herpes or scabies, and various skin manifestations caused by internal factors as psoriasis, for example.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis definition: it is an intractable non-communicable disease which as a rule manifests itself in the form of rashes and skin peeling. Being an autoimmune disorder, psoriasis is never contagious. About four percent of the world population suffer from this condition.
What Does Psoriasis Look Like?
Modern medicine distinguishes five types of skin psoriasis based on its manifestations:
- Plaque, or vulgaris, is the most common type of psoriasis. As the name indicates, it declares itself as a rash of plaques. These plaques may merge forming vast affected areas of skin. When you hear of the typical form of psoriasis be sure the plaque one is meant.
- Guttate psoriasis often begins to manifest itself in childhood or adolescence: small red individual spots may cover rather large areas of the body. This form of psoriasis is considered the second most common one, after plaque psoriasis. Approximately 10 percent of all psoriasis patients develop this form of the condition. Guttate psoriasis may precede or coexist with other types of psoriasis, such as plaque one.
- Pustular psoriasis is a rare form of this disease. It manifests itself with a rash on hands and feet. Nevertheless, it has become increasingly common lately. Some of dermatologists believe this tendency to be caused by aggressive treatment, specifically with cytostatics and corticosteroids. In 60% of the pustular psoriasis cases, patients had been previously diagnosed with plaque psoriasis.
- Psoriasis of skin folds or flexor surfaces is called inverse psoriasis. It declares itself with inflamed patches of skin that have smooth structure, with almost no peeling. The location of these patches, for example, external genitalia, inner thighs, or armpits, preconditions painful and challenging progression and treatment.
How Do You Get Psoriasis?
As psoriasis is not caused by pathogenic microorganisms, as it is a mere autoimmune condition, it cannot be transmitted in any way, including:
- contacting with a patient;
- shaking hands, touching, hugging, and so forth;
- using common household items;
- having sexual relations.
Most medical scientists believe that an important role in the development of this disease is played by hereditary factors, genetic predisposition, i.e. they claim that psoriasis is inherited. The disease may not manifest itself even for several generations; moreover, one can develop it in any age, as a result of the triggers emerging.
It is also believed that metabolic predisposition, especially of the skin, is inherited rather than the disease itself. Basically, this point of view states that people get psoriasis due to violation of their endocrine mechanisms.
There is yet another point of view. Some scientists believe the reason for this disease should be sought in a combination of several risk factors: enzyme disorders, lipid metabolism, or amino acid metabolism, viral replication or streptococcal infections, etc.
Thus, whatever point of view is right, there is always one rule: no form of psoriasis is transmittable! Plaque psoriasis is not contagious to others, scalp psoriasis isn’t contagious, too. There is no need to avoid contact with people suffering from this condition.
Many patients think that psoriasis is not a serious threat to the health or life and that besides minor psychological and physical discomfort, there is no harm caused. However, it is a profound mistake. First of all, it is not just a skin condition. Psoriasis is a systemic disease that affects almost all organs and systems. Therefore, it is highly important to control any inflammatory processes to prevent critical conditions.
Psoriasis may cause a whole range of different possible organ and body system failures, and the following complications:
- Psoriatic nails. Changes in the appearance of the nail plate, as indentations, oil stains, or nail plate dystrophy are a warning sign of high risk of the psoriatic arthritis development.
- Eye diseases: conjunctivitis, nuclear sclerosis, and iritis, episcleritis etc.
- Various diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, mucous membranes of the oropharynx, urethra, and bladder.
- Enlarged liver and spleen.
- Disorders of the central nervous system. These may have such symptoms as delusions, seizures, and encephalopathy.
- Spontaneous pain in the muscles, muscle atrophy, and muscle weakness.
- Due to the massive destruction of cells (peeling), kidneys are overloaded with purine bases. That may lead to the development of nephropathy and chronic renal failure.
- Heart diseases, such as myocarditis, pericarditis, or heart defects.
- Psoriatic arthritis, which is a multiple joint damage. Its ultimate manifestations, after a few years of development, are joint subluxations and muscle atrophy.
Along with that, it has been shown that psoriasis is able to degrade the quality of life of patients to the same extent as other severe chronic illnesses. Depending on the psoriatic lesions location and severity, patients with psoriasis may experience significant physical and/or psychological discomfort, as well as difficulties in social and professional adaptation, and may even need a disability status.
Psoriasis is a chronic disease having a generally undulating course, with periods of remissions, spontaneous or caused by various medical effects, and periods of recurrence or relapse, also spontaneous or precipitated by adverse external factors (e.g. alcohol, intercurrent infections, or stress). Often the disease may progress over time, especially if untreated. There are many different means and methods of treating psoriasis. However, due to the chronic relapsing nature of the disease and the progression tendency, psoriasis is quite a challenging condition from this perspective. The current state of medical science cannot yet provide complete cure for it. More or less long and complete remissions, including life-long ones, are possible. However, there is always a risk of recurrence.