What is psoriatic disease?
A psoriatic disease diagnosis can be shocking and confusing. But you are not alone.
Whether you are newly diagnosed with psoriatic disease, or a parent or carer of somebody with psoriatic disease or wanting more information about the condition. We are here to help. Psoriatic disease is a systemic autoimmune condition that predominately affects the skin, the joints, or both. Anyone can be diagnosed with psoriatic disease. Psoriatic disease can occur at any point in the lifespan, affecting children, teenagers, adults and older people.
Types of psoriatic disease
There are two main types of psoriatic disease:
- Psoriasis (PsO): A medical condition where the skin cells grow too quickly, resulting in inflamed, thickened and scaly areas of the skin. It can affect all areas of the body including, the scalp, finger or toe nails and genitals.
- Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA): An inflammatory arthritis associated with psoriasis, that affects joints as well as areas where tendons join to bones.
Who is diagnosed with psoriatic disease?
Psoriasis can occur at any point in the lifespan, affecting children,
teenagers, adults and older people. There appears to be two ‘peaks’ for when onset occurs; from the late teens to early adulthood, and between the ages of around 50 and 60. It affects males and females equally.
It may be possible for those diagnosed with psoriatic disease to find out that there is a history of the condition in the family.
What causes psoriatic disease?
Researchers have not yet determined the exact cause of psoriatic disease. However, various factors could play a role and include:
- Genetics – up to a third of people with psoriasis report having a relative with psoriasis. Research also shows that 10% of the population may carry a gene that makes them more likely to develop psoriasis. However, only 2-3% of them will eventually get psoriasis.
- External Factors – Several external factors could “trigger” psoriasis to develop. Possible triggers include stress, infection (like strep throat), skin injury (cuts, scratches, bug bites, sunburn) and medication (including lithium, indomethacin, quinidine). These factors vary from person to person, so something that causes your psoriasis in one person may leave someone else unaffected.
- Immune System – Psoriasis appears to be closely related to how our immune system works. Normally, it takes 28 to 30 days for our bodies to develop new skin cells and shed the old. When you have psoriasis however, your immune system becomes overactive. It then produces new skin cells extremely fast, in less than 7 days. This means that your old skin cells pile up on top of each other. The result are the symptoms of psoriasis: inflamed skin, thick red patches and a constant flaking of old skin cells.
Is psoriatic disease contagious?
No, psoriatic disease is not contagious. Because you cannot catch psoriatic disease from someone else, there is no need at all to avoid people with psoriatic disease – you can hug them, hang out with them, go swimming, borrow each other’s clothes, hold their hand, have fun together, … just like with anyone else!