What Causes Psoriasis? Top 5 Risk Factors You Should Know About

An immune-mediated disease that can cause scaly, red patches on the skin – psoriasis is a serious skin condition.

Anyone who has or is currently battling with psoriasis flare-ups has to deal with a lot of frustration and pain.

Not only does it make your skin look extremely red and angry, but the condition also hurts your self-esteem.

The surprising bit is that even up till now, the precise cause of psoriases is still unknown.

There are, however, certain triggers concerning the immune system and inflammation that contribute to the development of psoriasis.

People with this skin condition often have immune systems that are out of balance. The overactive immune systems trigger the wrong signals in the body.

Healthy cells are mistaken for harmful ones and as a result, there’s a spike in inflammation that leads to the body producing more skin cells than are necessary.

Here we explore the many causes that may lead to a person developing psoriasis or can aggravate this unforgiving skin condition.

What Causes Psoriasis? 

what causes psoriasis

There’s never a single cause that can be attributed to psoriasis.

The condition is a result of several risk factors – genetics being the most crucial one that causes the skin cells to grow five times faster than their normal size and rate.

To understand what causes psoriasis, let’s delve in and study each of the risk factors below!

1. The Immune System

what causes psoriasis

As an autoimmune condition, psoriasis is a perfect example of the body attacking itself. The white blood cells called the ‘T cells’ start destroying healthy cells in the body.

These white blood cells are inherently supposed to protect your body from infections, wounds, and inflammation, but they end up doing the opposite in this case.

The condition, therefore, leads to rapidly developing skin cells.

They continue to push up to the skin’s surface and start piling up, resulting in inflamed, red, and scaly patches on the skin.

2. The Role Of Genetics  

what causes psoriasis

Your genes offer crucial instructions to your cells. They are responsible for a person’s hair and eye color, height, and all the things that make them who they are.

People with psoriasis possess genes that often interfere with the normal functions of the immune system.

These genes are responsible for the immune system signals that get the instructions mixed up.

Instead of safeguarding your body from potential invaders – as every normal body does – the immune system rapidly promotes inflammation that causes skin cells to multiply at an exponential rate.

People with psoriasis have about 25 genes that are starkly different than those of an otherwise normal human.

This proves that it takes more than one gene to trigger the disease, and the investigation still continues.

About now, more than 8 million people in the US and 125 million across the world are battling with psoriasis.

The genes play a vital role in the development of the skin condition as every 10 in a pool of 100 people possess genes that make them vulnerable to psoriases.

However, only two or three of them actually develop it.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, if one of your parents has psoriasis, you have a 10% chance of getting it too.

And, if both the parents have psoriasis, the chances spike up to 50%.

These statistics are clear proof that genes and family history are major factors in the development of psoriasis.

Common Risk Factors Related To Psoriasis

Triggers or risk factors are different from causes. They can aggravate or lead to a relapse of the skin condition.

Even when they’re not the root cause, they have the potential to worsen psoriasis in an individual. Here’s what you should know:

1. Hormonal Changes In The Body

what causes psoriasis

There are certain stages of the hormonal cycle when psoriasis may show up. The disease often develops or flares up during the early stages of puberty.

Sometimes, menopause in women can also be a trigger. During these stages, the hormones are at their lowest, which can cause psoriasis.

The symptoms, however, do improve during pregnancy, when hormone levels spike, but once the baby’s born, a flare-up can be expected.

2. Stress

what causes psoriasis

When your body is experiencing stress, your cortisol levels tend to increase sharply.

Many scientists believe that changes in the immune system can occur due to severe mental and emotional stress.

If you think, stress is a possible trigger, try to keep it under control through meditation, reading books, or participating in a support group.

3. Certain Medications

what causes psoriasis

Doctors have also found a link between psoriasis flare-ups and the ingestion of certain medications.

These include indomethacin, antimalarial drugs, quinidine, lithium, and Inderal.

If you’re taking any of these drugs, you might notice a flare-up several weeks after the course begins.

However, talk to your doctor if your skin condition is worsening.

Be mindful that these drugs have been prescribed to you to treat a medical condition and not taking them could impact your health.

Talking to your doctor can help you find ways to manage psoriasis flare-ups during the treatment course.

4. Injury Or Infection

what causes psoriasis

Two common triggers are injuries and infections.

Infections like bronchitis, strep throat, tonsillitis, and other respiratory infections attack the immune system and send it on overdrive.

You could develop psoriasis weeks after the infection has cured. If so, get in touch with your doctor for an effective treatment.

In case of an injury, your body can come under a lot of stress and inflammation to find the wound.

Anything from scratches, cuts, bruises, and bug bites to a severe sunburn can potentially lead to a psoriasis flare. The best way to manage it is to treat the wound on time.

5. Smoking And Alcohol

what causes psoriasis

Tobacco has been linked to a psoriasis flare, which is why smoking should be avoided at all costs.

Although more research is needed, smoking is, nonetheless, a harmful habit.

Alcohol, on the other hand, has been found to interfere with certain psoriasis medications like methotrexate.

In any case, consuming too much alcohol can make symptoms worse. Therefore, try to reduce it from your diet and instead, eat immune-boosting foods!

A Final Word


Having psoriasis is not the end of the world. Once you know what’s triggering the flare-ups, it becomes easier to manage your condition by adjusting your lifestyle.

Use the guide above to identify patterns and triggers that may be contributing to psoriasis and talk to your doctor about a possible medical treatment!