8 Myths of Psoriasis That Need to be Put to Rest
Psoriasis affects more than 7.5 million people in the U.S. alone. Despite being a common condition, there are still many myths floating around about psoriasis. These misconceptions only make it harder for people to seek the treatment they need.
It's important to put these eight common myths of psoriasis to rest once and for all.
Myth #1 - Psoriasis Can't Be Treated
Fact: There are Many Treatment Options for Psoriasis
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many treatment options available.
For mild cases, treatment options can include:
- Topical steroids
For moderate to severe cases of psoriasis, ointments are also available as well as injectable and oral medications.
Modern treatments generally focus on reducing the underlying inflammation that contributes to psoriasis.
Someday, a cure may be found for psoriasis. But, until then, you have many effective and safe options for managing your symptoms.
Myth #2 - Psoriasis Only Affects the Skin
Fact: Psoriasis Can Affect the Entire Body
Many people assume that psoriasis is just a skin condition, but there's a lot more going on beneath the surface.
There are several associated health conditions that people with psoriasis may experience, such as psoriatic arthritis, which can cause joint pain and swelling. An estimated 30% of individuals with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis.
Other associated conditions can include:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Depression and anxiety
Psoriasis is a complex condition that can have many effects on the body.
Myth #3 - Psoriasis is Contagious
Fact: Psoriasis Cannot Spread to Others
Psoriasis can affect the skin in many ways. At times, the skin may crack and bleed, which some people may mistake for an infection.
However, psoriasis is an autoimmune condition – not an infection. Immune dysfunction causes inflammation, which contributes to the condition.
Myth #4 - Bad Hygiene Causes Psoriasis
Fact: Genetics, Inflammation and Other Factors Cause Psoriasis
Psoriasis can cause dry, scaly skin. For this reason, some people assume that the condition is caused by poor hygiene. But psoriasis has nothing to do with hygiene.
Genetics, inflammation and environmental factors are the most common contributors to psoriasis. However, skin injuries, stress, hormones and medications can also make psoriasis worse.
Myth #5 - Psoriasis is Easy to Diagnose
Fact: Psoriasis is Often Mistaken for Other Conditions
Psoriasis can affect the skin in many ways, and that can make it difficult to diagnose. To further complicate matters, there are several types of psoriasis, and each one looks different. The five most common types of psoriasis include:
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form, and it appears as dry, flaky and scaly skin at the elbows, scalp and knees.
Many types of psoriasis are mistaken for eczema or other inflammatory skin conditions.
Myth #6 - Kids Can't Develop Psoriasis
Fact: Psoriasis Can Affect People of All Ages
While it's more common in adults, psoriasis can affect children. The condition can develop at any age. However, psoriasis has two peaks of on-set:
- 20-30 years of age
- 50-60 years of age
When psoriasis affects children, it is typically guttate psoriasis. In this case, the condition usually develops after an infection.
Myth #7 - Psoriasis is Easily Preventable
Fact: Psoriasis Has a Genetic Component That Can't Be Controlled
While certain risk factors of psoriasis can be prevented, such as stress and lifestyle choices, there is a genetic component that cannot be controlled.
Psoriasis tends to run in families. The condition is caused by a specific type of inflammation and is mediated by a specific white blood cell. The inflammatory response that leads to psoriasis has genetic roots.
A large percentage of people with psoriasis have at least one family member with the condition.
Myth #8 - Eating Healthy Will Eliminate Psoriasis
Fact: Diet Changes May Not Work for Everyone
Making a healthy diet and lifestyle change is great for your overall health and well-being, but it may not necessarily have an impact on psoriasis.
Many people have seen improvements after eliminating certain foods or drinks, including alcohol, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc.) and gluten. The Mediterranean diet has also been shown to be promising in keeping symptoms at bay. Some people notice an improvement after losing weight. However, diet isn't a cure. Most of the evidence we have is anecdotal. Thus far, science hasn't proven that diet affects psoriasis.
Diet changes may work for one person and not another, but making healthier food choices is certainly not a bad thing.
Talk to your doctor if you want to make food changes a part of your psoriasis treatment plan. Also, consider working with a registered dietitian to ensure that your diet is healthy and well-balanced.
Psoriasis is a complicated condition that doctors still don't know a lot about. However, we do know that these myths are just that – myths. Psoriasis is not a contagious condition caused by poor hygiene. It's an autoimmune condition that's often caused by genetics and environmental factors. It's not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about, and there are treatment options out there.