What causes Psoriasis?

While the exact causes of psoriasis are not yet fully understood, two factors appear to play a key role: dysfunction in the immune system and genetic predispositions.

By understanding these internal causes of psoriasis, we hope that you can see your condition in a new light. Despite its overactive response, your body is ultimately trying to protect you.

Dysfunction in the immune system

Psoriasis starts beneath the surface. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning it is caused by an overactive immune response to an external or internal trigger. The overstimulated immune system attacks the body’s own skin cells, causing the body to make new skin cells more often, and resulting in the visible symptoms you see on the surface.

Genetic predispositions

While the role of environmental triggers is well understood, it is also believed that more than 60 gene variants contribute to a person’s likelihood of developing psoriasis. However, the link is complicated. There isn’t a “psoriasis gene.” In fact, in 60% of people living with psoriasis, no other family member has previously been affected by the condition.

Triggers that may affect psoriasis

Certain triggers associated with psoriasis can make flare-ups more frequent and severe. Triggers may include:

  • Skin-related injuries, such as cuts, insect bites, or sunburn
  • Colds
  • Skin infections
  • The weather—particularly cold, dry air
  • Reactions to other medicines
  • Stress
  • Being overweight
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Smoking, including passive smoking
  • Close-fitting or abrasive clothing

Many of these triggers can be reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

This site is intended for Canadian residents only. The content on this site is not meant to replace the guidance of a healthcare professional.