You’re more likely to get psoriasis if your blood relatives also have it. That’s because certain genes play a role in who gets the condition.
Genes and Psoriasis
That seems to be the case with psoriasis. Researchers so far have identified more than two dozen genes that may contribute to the disease. In some cases, scientists even can link a particular gene to specific types of psoriasis, including pustular, guttate, and plaque.
Even if you have any of these genes, you’re not very likely to get psoriasis. About 1 in 10 people have at least some of the genes that raise the risk for psoriasis. But only 2% of the population has the disease. On the flip side, you still can get psoriasis without having the genes that may cause it.
So what accounts for the differences? Research continues, but scientists believe things in the environment may be a key contributor to psoriasis.
It’s not always clear what triggers certain genes to start the faulty immune response that leads to an outbreak of psoriasis. But researchers think the list may include:
- Traumatic injury or sunburn to the skin
- Stressful life event
- Prescription drugs such as prednisone, lithium, or hydroxychloroquine
- Heavy alcohol use
- Cold, dry weather
Scientists are learning more about exactly which genes cause psoriasis and how they activate in different people. That could pave the way for new or improved treatments. For example, certain types of drugs or therapies may better ease symptoms. Or they may prevent psoriasis by blocking the link between your immune system and the faulty genes.
Some of the new medicine may work better for everyone. Others might be drugs that your doctors customize for you based on your genes, environment, and possible triggers.