If you've recently been told by your doctor you have psoriasis or if you have come into close contact with somebody suffering from this skin condition, you might be asking the question 'is psoriasis contagious?' I can answer this question unequivocally straight away. Absolutely NOT. Psoriasis is not contagious and it can not be passed from person to person.
If you're reading this as a patient who has recently been diagnosed with psoriasis, rest assured you did not catch it from anyone, nor can you pass it on to those around you through touch. If you're here because you're concerned a friend, work colleague or classmate might be able to pass on their psoriasis on to you, they honestly can't. Whilst psoriasis might look like a red and spreading rash, you can not 'catch' it.
Similar Contagious Conditions
It's important to ensure your psoriasis is correctly diagnosed, because there are skin conditions very similar in appearance to psoriasis, which can be passed on through human contact. But psoriasis itself is not an infection, nor is it caused by contagious bacteria. Skin conditions that are contagious which might look similar in appearance to psoriasis include:
Your dermatologist may wish to perform a skin biopsy to clarify for certain the skin disease you're suffering from.
Despite the fact psoriasis is not contagious, education around this subject still has a long way to go. According to a 2016 survey, almost half of the 8300 psoriasis patients questioned had been asked by members of the public if they were contagious, with 16% hiding themselves away as a coping mechanism.
A smaller study conducted in 2012, confirmed the majority of psoriasis patients felt that they were stigmatised by their condition. The most bothersome aspect was other people staring at their skin changes. Researchers highlighted the need for greater public awareness that psoriasis is not contagious.
Psoriasis Is Not Contagious. Pass It On!
Having suffered from psoriasis myself for over twenty years, I know how absolutely devastating it can feel when someone assumes you might be contagious. In my first book Radiant, I tell the story of being pulled out of an airline check-in queue in Egypt by staff concerned that my skin condition could be passed on to other passengers. I was mortified.
A survey conducted around the same time - 'Beyond Psoriasis: The Person Behind the Patient' - reiterates why education and compassion around skin conditions is so important. 64% of those questioned said they felt concerned that people were afraid their psoriasis was contagious, whilst 56% said they believed people would be disgusted by their psoriasis.
Low self-esteem was cited in almost three quarters of severe psoriasis patients, and almost half of those questioned suffering with moderate psoriasis confirmed their confidence was impacted by the condition. This research validates the need for an understanding about how psoriasis can impact a patient's emotional and physical well-being, and that includes other peoples reactions.
If a partner, colleague or someone in your friendship circle has recently been diagnosed with psoriasis, your support can mean the world. Don't be afraid to ask questions sympathetically and offer gentle support without pushing treatment opinions.
Dating With Psoriasis
Whilst I was always incredibly secretive about my skin condition, and constantly covering up even around friends and family, the thing I absolutely dreaded was discussing my psoriasis with a new partner. I found it embarrassing, demeaning and downright awkward! I'd wear long sleeves on dates and avoid intimacy for as long as possible so as not to have to explain what was going on with my skin. I feared their reaction, especially when it came to questions about whether my psoriasis was catching.
I'm definitely not the only one who's struggled with this stigma. A study conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation found a third of patients limited dating or intimate interactions as a direct result of their psoriasis.
Having since met lots of couples on my retreats who attended because one partner was battling psoriasis, I experienced the most interesting insight into what truly unconditional love and support looks like. Seeing their kindness and unwavering encouragement first-hand, opened my eyes to the sort of loving relationship we should all be aiming for. If somebody you're dating is so shallow as to end your liason because of psoriasis, is that really the person you want as a life partner?
Whilst your psoriasis and emotions around your skin condition might feel as though they're irreversibly lowering your self esteem, don't forget how powerful thoughts can be. Empowering yourself to make positive changes can help you take back control over a disease that you may feel has been controlling you for a long time.
More and more studies are confirming the gut / skin condition and that's something you do have control over. Focus on healthy, positive dietary and lifestyle improvements that can not only boost your mental well-being, but in turn help you to relax and feel more confident. As I explain in my book Skin Healing Expert, this can form part of a self-perpetuating circle of positivity, all of which works to improve your psoriasis and emotions surrounding this non-contagious skin condition.
Do you worry that people might think your psoriasis is contagious? Have your experienced a negative reaction towards your skin? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.