Why do people get psoriasis?

Psoriasis causes and triggers

The exact cause of psoriasis is unclear.1 It is thought to be caused by a combination of your genetic makeup and environmental factors (triggers).2,3 Not everyone who inherits genes for psoriasis will develop the condition. If one of your parents has psoriasis you have a 1 in 10 chance of getting it yourself. If both your parents have psoriasis, this increases to a 1 in 2 chance.4

Having ‘psoriasis genes’ and being exposed to certain triggers in your daily life may cause psoriasis to develop.3

Psoriasis triggers are not the same for everyone. What causes one person's psoriasis to flare up may not affect another.1 You may also find your triggers change over time.1 Knowing your triggers makes them easier to avoid and helps you take control of your skin.

Triggers are different for each person – what sets off psoriasis in one person may not have any affect in another. 1

person scratching feet due to psoriasis itch

Potential triggers

The most common triggers for psoriasis include:
  1. Stress1
  2. Certain medications1 - e.g. lithium, antimalarials and high blood pressure medication
  3. Skin injuries1 - cuts, scrapes, injections and sunburn
  4. Allergies5
  5. Diet1 - red meat, refined sugar, processed food and dairy
  6. Weather - cold, dry weather can make your psoriasis symptoms worse6 and too much sunlight can make psoriasis worse6
  7. Smoking6
  8. Alcohol1
  9. Infections - e.g. streptococcal pharyngitis, thrush, upper respiratory infections6

To find out what is causing your psoriasis to flare-up try keeping a diary. Keep a record of your symptoms alongside your diet, how much you are drinking/smoking, the weather and any illnesses, injuries or emotional stress you might have had. Talk to your healthcare professional if you think anything is triggering your psoriasis.

Understanding your triggers can help you manage your psoriasis.6

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

UK/IE MAT-26487 Date of prep: July 2019

  1. www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis#psoriasis-treatments (accessed July 2019).
  2. S Segaert and M Ropke. J Drugs Dermatol 2013; 12(8): e129-37.
  3. www.psoriasis.org/research/genes-and-psoriatic-disease (accessed July 2019).
  4. www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis (accessed July 2019).
  5. www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/causes (accessed July 2019).
  6. www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis/triggers-to-avoid#alcohol (accessed July 2019).

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