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Misconceptions About Psoriasis


Updated October 26, 2007

As someone who treats psoriasis, I frequently have patients who bring common misunderstandings about the condition to my attention. Here are just a few common myths about psoriasis that need debunking:
  • Psoriasis is contagious
    You can not pass the disease onto others, for example, by touching them. Psoriasis is genetic, though flare-ups or worsening of the condition may occur as a result of infections, such as strep throat.

  • Psoriasis is cancer
    Psoriasis causes skin cells to grow rapidly, but the condition is not in any way related to skin cancer. There may be a very slight increased risk of lymphoma in psoriasis patients (2%) compared to the general population (1%).

  • Psoriasis is due to "dirty" blood
    While there are definitely increased compounds, such as TNF alpha, in the blood of those with psoriasis, these are not waste products or contaminants to be removed or filtered -- they are natural compounds that should be present. Psoriasis has nothing to do with "contaminated" blood.

  • "Nobody in my family has psoriasis, therefore I can't have psoriasis."
    Psoriasis is very common, affecting roughly 2% of the population. While many patients can recall a relative with the condition, some do not. This does not "rule out" psoriasis. You may have a relative whose psoriasis is hidden, or you may have a relative who had the condition, but has since passed on.

  • There is a "secret cure" for psoriasis
    Maybe a friend, relative, or website mentioned a "100% effective and completely safe" psoriasis treatment -- if only this were true! It's nice to think that there is a one shot deal that will permanently make that rash go away, but it -- unfortunately -- doesn't exist.

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