If you have psoriasis, you may be concerned about it spreading, either to other people or onto other parts of your body. Read on for more on psoriasis and how it works.
Can psoriasis spread?
Psoriasis isn’t contagious, and you can’t contract it from someone else or transmit it to another person. Psoriasis can spread to other parts of your body if you already have it, but there are ways to prevent it from getting worse.
How does psoriasis develop?
Psoriasis is a very common, chronic skin condition. It’s caused by your immune system attacking the skin, which increases your production of skin cells.
As the production increases, your skin cells die and regrow more quickly. That causes a buildup of immature skin cells that don’t behave normally, which results in itchy patches on your skin. The patches can be red, very dry, and very thick and may have a silvery appearance.
Your immune system and your genetics play a major role in the development of psoriasis. These affect your whole body, so you can develop psoriasis in many places. Psoriasis is most common on the scalp, knees, and elbows, but it can appear anywhere.
The skin condition can also range from mild to severe. It’s possible for your psoriasis to become more or less severe over time. Psoriasis can also look and feel different depending on its location.
It may seem as though your psoriasis is spreading to other parts of your body if it becomes more severe. But in actuality, you’re having a flare-up.
What can trigger a flare-up?
Researchers believe that anyone can develop psoriasis, even with no family history of the condition. It’s thought that a combination of genetic and environmental triggers most likely need to be present for psoriasis to start.
That’s also likely an explanation for why psoriasis comes and goes, or gets better and worse over time.
Psoriasis flare-ups can be triggered by various factors, including:
- an infection in your body
- skin injury, like friction, a cut, or burn
- dry air, either from the weather or from being in a heated room
- too much alcohol
- some medications
- vitamin D deficiency
8 tips to prevent psoriasis from spreading
Treatment is focused on preventing you from producing skin cells too quickly, but there are also steps you can take to help prevent psoriasis flare-ups.
1. Eat a nutrient-dense diet
Eating a nutrient-dense diet is important for everyone, but it may also help reduce psoriasis flare-ups. Certain types of foods may be triggers.
In a 2017 surveyTrusted Source conducted in the United States, about half the subjects with psoriasis reported improved symptoms after reducing their alcohol, gluten, and nightshades intake. Nightshades include potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants, among other things.
Improvement was also seenTrusted Source in those who added omega-3s and fish oil, vegetables, and vitamin D supplements to their diet.
There have been few scientific studies on the effects of diet on psoriasis, however. Talk with your doctor about an ideal diet for you.
2. Avoid smoking and alcohol
This one may be easier said than done, but smoking and alcohol can aggravate psoriasisTrusted Source. ResearchersTrusted Source hypothesize that it may be due to factors such as oxidative stress and vascular issues.
Try to limit your cigarette smoking and drinking alcohol as much as possible to prevent psoriasis from getting worse.
Talk with your doctor if you need help quitting. They can recommend smoking cessation programs and resources to help manage alcohol intake.
3. Protect your skin
Sunburn, cuts, infection, and even vaccinations can trigger psoriasis.
This kind of trauma to the skin can cause a response called the Koebner phenomenon. It can lead to psoriasis patches developing in areas where you don’t normally experience flare-ups, making it seem as if psoriasis has spread.
To avoid this, try these tips:
- Use a sunscreen if you’ll be in the sun for extended periods of time. While some ultraviolet light may help heal your psoriasis, too much exposure can damage your skin and may even lead to skin cancer.
- Take extra care to avoid friction, cuts, or scrapes. If you do get injured, take steps to avoid infection. If you experience any signs of infection (redness, warmth, swelling, a fever, etc.), contact your doctor.
- Keep a close eye on your skin following vaccinations. Vaccinations could lead to a psoriasis flare-up.
4. Decrease stress
It’s not always easy to manage stress, and it can be unavoidable at times. From a sudden life change, like a job transition or the loss of a loved one, everyday life’s ongoing stress is linked to an increase in psoriasis.
Here are some things you can do to try to reduce your stress:
- Keep your schedule manageable.
- Find time to do the activities you enjoy.
- Spend time with people who uplift you.
- Keep your body and mind healthy.
- Look into stress-reducing activities like mediation and yoga.
- Take a few moments each day just to breath and clear your mind.
Getting enough sleep can support your immune system and may help you maintain a moderate body weight and manage stress. All of these are important for keeping your psoriasis at bay.
Adults are recommended to get 7 or more hoursTrusted Source of sleep a day. Speak with your doctor if you have any trouble getting enough sleep.
6. Reconsider certain medications
The following medications are associatedTrusted Source with psoriasis flares:
- synthetic antimalarial medications
- beta-blockers such as propranolol
- quinidine, an antiarrhythmic
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as indomethacin
Talk with your doctor if you think one of these medications might be affecting your psoriasis. And always talk with your doctor before quitting or changing any of your medications.
7. Use lotion
Overly dry skin can trigger psoriasis. Avoid overly hot showers, which can dry your skin. After bathing, pat your skin dry with a towel and apply an unscented lotion to help lock in moisture.
You may also want to use a humidifier in your home if the air is dry. That can help prevent dry skin as well.
Psoriasis isn’t contagious, meaning you can’t spread it to other people. Flare-ups can cause your psoriasis to get worse and cover larger amounts of your body.
Learn your triggers and avoid them, when possible, to help reduce your risk for flare-ups.