Anyone can have psoriasis at any point in their life, and one study estimates that around 1.4% of all people between the ages of 10 and 19 have it, and around 2-3% of the overall UK population is currently affected.
That means that, although you might feel like the only person in the world with psoriasis, we think around 1.8 million people have it in the UK alone! It’s important to remember that psoriasis isn’t contagious- it can’t be caught from someone else, and it can’t be transferred from one part of the body to another.
Modern-day research has discovered that psoriasis is caused by certain changes in the immune system. ‘T Cells’ are immune cells that cause inflammation, normally to heal wounds or fight infection. In people with psoriasis, something triggers these cells to become overactive, leading to the rapid growth of skin cells - a bit like when you hurt yourself and cells rush to the surface to form a scab.
It’s not yet known exactly what triggers these changes. Some people have a family history of psoriasis, but this doesn’t always mean that they will inherit it, and some people with no family history at all can also develop psoriasis. In all types of psoriasis, common triggers may be puberty, skin injuries, emotional stress or certain medicines (e.g. anti-malaria tablets).
Guttate psoriasis is one type which is commonly triggered by a throat infection. Smoking and too much alcohol can make psoriasis worse and trigger new episodes.
Psoriasis cannot be cured, but there are lots of treatments available to manage the condition. Moisturising is an important part of treating psoriasis too. Visit our Mythbuster to get the quick lowdown on what is and isn't true about psoriasis.
For further information on psoriasis take a look at our main website. For or for a list of resources used in the production of this information resource, please contact the Psoriasis Association.
April 2016 (Review: March 2018)