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Who Gets Psoriasis?

Posted on February 18, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A.
Article written by
Bethany J. Sanstrum, Ph.D.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that can occur in a wide range of people, regardless of age, sex, or skin color. The condition may cause red, pink, or violet skin discoloration, and in some cases, blisters can occur over large areas of the skin's surface. Psoriasis is a common condition, affecting nearly 2 percent of people in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

At What Ages Does Psoriasis Start?

Psoriasis can be diagnosed in people of all ages. It may first appear starting at infanthood or much later in life. However, psoriasis typically begins to show symptoms in younger people between the ages of 15 to 25 years and in older people between the ages of 30 and 39 and between 50 and 69.

Does Biological Sex Affect Risk for Developing Psoriasis?

Psoriasis may be marginally more common in women than in men. However, experts also believe that women typically develop a less severe form of psoriasis than men, across all age groups. One study found that men have more severe psoriasis, are overrepresented in psoriasis registers, and ultimately require more treatment than women.

Does Race Affect the Prevalence or Severity of Psoriasis?

A study from 2016 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that “among those between ages 20 and 59 years, the psoriasis prevalence was highest in Caucasians at 3.6% … followed by African Americans [1.9%], Hispanics [1.6%], and others [1.4%].”

Psoriasis may be underdiagnosed in people with darker skin, partly because the condition presents differently on darker skin than on lighter skin. Whereas the condition generally presents as red, scaly plaques on light skin, the discoloration can appear darker and thicker on darker skin, in shades of purple, gray, or darker brown.

Additionally, psoriasis patches may be further apart or less concentrated in Black people experiencing flare-ups. These differences may lead to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis in people of color.

Does Psoriasis Run in Families?

Experts believe there is a genetic component to psoriasis. One-third of people who have been diagnosed with psoriasis have at least one direct family member who is also living with the condition. People with two parents who have psoriasis are at greater risk.

What Other Factors May Increase the Risk of Psoriasis?

Environmental factors may also contribute to psoriasis or trigger symptoms, including:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Infections, such as strep throat
  • Obesity
  • Injuries, such as severe cuts
  • Sunburns

Some medications that are commonly used to treat other conditions, such as lithium, prednisone, and hydroxychloroquine, have also been linked to the onset of psoriasis.

Read more about what causes psoriasis.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. More than 88,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Are you living with psoriasis? When were you diagnosed? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

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Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Bethany J. Sanstrum, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in cell and molecular biology with a specialization in neuroscience from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Learn more about her here.

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