Plenty of people have heard of psoriasis, but not many truly understand what it is. Sure, you may have heard Kim Kardashian and Cara Delevingne talk about their own experiences with it, but they aren’t alone—around 2-3% of the world are affected by the condition. But what does that really mean?
Here are 30 things most people don’t know about psoriasis.
1. Around 7.5 million people in the US are diagnosed with some form of psoriasis per year, and 125 million people worldwide.
2. Psoriasis isn’t just dandruff or dry skin.
3. It’s also not just a rash.
4. Despite what some urban legends claim, psoriasis isn’t caused by bad hygiene.
5. In fact, while scientists still aren’t sure what exactly causes psoriasis, they do know that it’s closely linked with genetics and the immune system.
6. Though psoriasis knows no age, you’re most likely to notice it when you’re between the ages of 15 and 35 years old.
7. While psoriasis is a chronic condition, it may flare up at different times throughout your life, while at other times you may not have any symptoms at all.
8. While most people think about psoriasis as a skin condition, you can also get it in your nails.
9. But let’s be clear, psoriasis isn’t actually a skin condition at all—it’s an autoimmune disease.
10. Don’t worry—psoriasis is not contagious.
11. You have a greater risk of developing psoriasis if you have HIV.
12. While there is no cure for psoriasis, you may be able to manage the symptoms by using moisturizer, finding methods to decrease your stress, or quitting smoking.
13. Topical treatments (such as phototherapy, which uses UVB light) or drugs that target the immune system have also been successful in minimizing the effects of psoriasis.
14. Psoriasis can affect your joints, too—around 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, usually between the ages of 30 and 50.
15. If your parent has psoriasis, you have a 10% chance of developing it—and if both of your parents have it, your risk goes up to 50%
16. People with psoriasis have an increased risk of depression.
17. In one study, 98% of people with psoriasis reported that their condition impacted their emotional life, while 94% reported it affected their social life.
18. Psoriasis is harder to treat if you have co-occurring health conditions.
19. Sunburns, scratches, fresh tattoos, and even certain medications may cause psoriasis flare-ups in a person.
20. Psoriasis patches, or plaques, form when skin cells build up but don’t die and shed, since the skin matures too quickly.
21. The “itch” that many people with psoriasis experience isn’t similar to the kind of itches most people may be used to—it has often been described as similar to being bitten by fire ants.
22. While psoriasis is most likely to affect your scalp, knees, hands and feet, it’s rare that it will affect your face.
23. There are actually five different types of psoriasis, though the most common is plaque psoriasis.
24. People with psoriasis on more than 10% of their body are considered to have a “severe” case, while people with psoriasis on less than 3% of their body are considered to have a “mild” case.
25. Around 80% of people with psoriasis have a mild case.
26. People with this condition will probably find it worsens in the wintertime due to the cold, the dry air, and the lack of short-term exposure to sunlight.
27. About 50% of the people who have psoriasis will have symptoms on or around their scalp.
28. Both men and women are equally likely to be diagnosed with psoriasis.
29. If you have psoriasis, you have a higher risk developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
30. While the scaling of skin is the most common symptom of psoriasis, people may also notice itching, erythema, fatigue, swelling, burning, and even bleeding.