Viral Psoriasis: When a Virus Causes or Triggers Psoriasis

World Psoriasis Day 29 October 2024

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A common misconception is that viral psoriasis occurs when a virus causes psoriasis; however, research does not support this theory. Doctors do not know the exact cause of psoriasis, but they believe it happens because your body’s immune system prompts an abnormal response causing production of immature skin cells and inflammation.

Although it appears that a virus cannot cause psoriasis, it is possible for a viral infection to trigger a psoriasis outbreak. If your family has a history of psoriasis, a viral infection such as chickenpox can be the catalyst for an outbreak especially in children. If you contract a viral infection, and you have a history of psoriasis in your family, talk to your doctor to determine how it will affect you.

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Causes of Viral Psoriasis



A virus is an organism, which needs a host in order to reproduce. Once it inserts its genetic material into the host cell it will take over the host’s function and reproduce viral protein and genetic material. The production of the virus eventually

takes over your system and manifests itself in many different ways. Chickenpox, flu, HIV, and measles are just some examples of viruses and each virus debilitates the body differently. Although an infection might be viral psoriasis outbreaks are a response to the infection, not caused by it.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

People think viral psoriasis exists because they associate their outbreak to a viral infection. HIV is responsible for lowering your immune system until your body is no longer capable of fighting even the most common bacteria.

When the CD4 count is low and the HIV viral count increases, patients experience a higher rate of guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis as well as erythrodermic type of psoriasis. The psoriasis in the majority of cases is a preexisting condition, which is exacerbated with the viral overload of the infection.


The EV-HPV or epidermodysplasia verruciformis, or human papilloma virus has been associated with psoriasis but it is not the direct cause. Being infected with this virus however can play a role in prolonging the outbreak of your psoriasis because it is believed this form of HPV takes advantage of the keratinocyte hyperproliferation that takes place on the skin of a psoriatic.

Make sure to let your doctor know if you have EV-HPV or any other type of HPV, if you are being treated for any variety of psoriasis. Your doctor is the best source of new information so ask him or her about viral psoriasis or anything related to your condition.


Scientist make vaccines by taking a small amount of a virus and introducing it in your body so you can create antibodies to fight the particular virus. If you have a preexisting condition even small amounts of a virus can weaken your system, and during this weakened state you can suffer a psoriasis outbreak. If you have an active psoriasis outbreak do not get a vaccination, this includes the flu vaccine, especially if it is a live vaccine.

A live vaccine is made from a living virus capable of reproducing the virus causing a mild form of the disease from which it is supposed to protect you. During this mild form of infection from the vaccine, it is possible to experience psoriasis outbreaks. The link between what some people have labeled viral psoriasis and vaccines is a real danger, but it is not a psoriasis virus that causes the outbreaks but a weakened immune system.

Protection from Viruses

If you have a viral infection, your immune system is the best weapon to fight the virus. Your body may not be able to fight all viral infections and in these cases vaccines can help your body make the right antibodies to fight the virus. Viruses like bacteria can be spread through contact, airborne, ingestions and transmission of fluids such as saliva, blood and semen. Washing your hands and using protection during intercourse are some of the ways you can reduce your chances of being infected with a virus.

If you have psoriasis, you have to be more careful, because a viral infection can prolong your outbreak. Finding a reliable source for the latest information about psoriasis is a way to protect yourself. Stay informed with a good source of information, so you will know if researchers identify a viral psoriasis, but more importantly, you will know when advances in the treatment of this uncomfortable medical condition are made.



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