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What causes psoriasis?

What causes psoriasis?

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Psoriasis is not contagious — you can’t catch it from someone who has it. The lesions you see on your skin are the result of an overactive immune system which mistakenly attacks your own healthy skin cells. Scientists are not sure why this happens. But the nature of psoriasis puts it in the category of “autoimmune diseases”.

Scientists are studying the potential causes:

  • Genetics: some people have genes that set them up to develop psoriasis — although carrying these genes is enough to develop the disease
  • Triggering event: external factors are usually needed to set off psoriasis
  • Triggers are not universal, but there some that are common to many people:
    • Stress
    • Damage or injury to the skin, like scratches, scrapes, bug bites, cuts, sunburns and vaccinations
    • Use of certain medications, or certain infections, like strep throat
    • Smoking
    • Heavy alcohol consumption
    • Cold weather
  • Other risk factors: someone who smokes, is overweight, or has a relative with psoriasis is also at higher risk of developing the disease