Eczema / Psoriasis

Can psoriasis be passed on genetically?

Studies show that genes may play a crucial role in helping to predict if a person will develop psoriasis in their lifetime.

Typically, these conditions develop over the course of a person’s life due to their genetic predisposition to developing the disorder combined with environmental triggers.

Researchers are beginning to better understand the link between genes, environmental factors, and a person developing psoriasis.

Fast facts on psoriasis and genetics:

  • Many skin diseases are passed down from one generation to another.

  • Researchers are currently studying the role that genes play in psoriasis.

  • Psoriasis is a persistent skin condition in which the body generates new skin cells much faster than their normal.

  • The increased growth rate causes many skin cells to push to the surface and die.

What is psoriasis?

psoriasis close up
Patches of psoriasis that are raised, red, and scaly, may be painful.

In affected areas, psoriasis presents as raised, red, and scaly patches. These patches may be painful and itchy.

Patches of psoriasis occur around the knees, scalp, and elbows. The patches may also appear on the torso, soles of the feet, and on the hands. In some cases, when psoriasis occurs around the joints, a person may develop psoriatic arthritis.

There are many different forms of psoriasis, and each type may be mild, moderate, or severe.

Psoriasis is a chronic condition, which means that a person may experience flare-ups where the symptoms increase, followed by periods of remission where the symptoms lessen or completely disappear for a time.

What role does genetics play?

Researchers are looking to see what genes are responsible for making a person more likely to develop psoriasis. Researchers have found that there is a connection between genes and the activation of the immune system that causes psoriasis.

The process of determining what genes affect psoriasis is a difficult task.

First, researchers need to identify a gene with a link to psoriasis. Once that gene is determined, they need to figure out how the gene functions in normal use.

Finally, they need to determine how the gene is acting differently in a person with psoriasis.

What researchers have been able to determine over the course of numerous studies is that genes play a role in making a person more susceptible to developing psoriasis.

There are about 25 genes discovered so far that have been linked to making a person more likely to develop psoriasis in their lifetime.

Is it likely to be hereditary?

In recent years, research has shown that roughly 10 percent of the population inherit one or more of the genes that make it more likely the person will develop psoriasis.

Of those people, only a small fraction will develop psoriasis.

Scientists think that the reason some people do not develop psoriasis is that they do not have the right collection of genes and are not susceptible to the triggers that cause psoriasis to occur. In other words, both environmental triggers and genes play a role in whether or not a person will likely develop psoriasis.

What genes are involved?

father holding baby over his shoulder
Environmental factors and genes may play a role in whether psoriasis develops.

The genes involved in the development of psoriasis are primarily related to the immune system. Researchers are continuing to look into each of the genes and their connection to psoriasis.

In 2012, a team of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine determined that a mutation in a gene called CARD14 plays a role in the development of plaque psoriasis. Research indicated that the mutation needed to be combined with an environmental trigger to cause psoriasis to form.

In addition to CARD14, researchers have looked at several other gene groups that may play a role in the development of psoriasis. For example, researchers think that one set of genes referred to as interleukin-12 subunit beta (ILB) and IL23R play a role in the inflammatory response associated with psoriasis.

To what extent does ‘luck’ play a role?

Researchers are generally in agreement that mutations in specific genes associated with the immune system combined with environmental triggers are the most probable cause of psoriasis.

In a sense, luck plays a bit of a role in whether a person will develop psoriasis or not. A person needs to have the right combination of mutations in their genes and a trigger, such as an infection, to develop psoriasis.

If these factors are not in place, scientists believe that a person is not going to develop psoriasis in their lifetime.


Researchers are extensively studying the role of genes in predicting and eventually treating psoriasis. In fact, they are getting closer to determining the exact mutations and environmental factors that cause a person to develop psoriasis.

Once it is fully understood, psoriasis should be both preventable and much easier to manage.

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