Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes an overgrowth of skin cells. In the years after psoriasis appears, a number of people may develop joint problems, too. This is called psoriatic arthritis, and it’s a type of arthritis that falls into the same family as spondyloarthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis can cause joint pain, inflammation, and swelling, much like other types of arthritis like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Having psoriatic arthritis might also put you at risk of developing other autoimmune conditions.

There’s a wide range of estimates when it comes to how many people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, with about a third of all people with psoriasis reported joint problems.

For nearly 70 percent of these people, psoriasis develops before — usually by about a decade — psoriatic arthritis. For the others, no one is really sure what causes the condition, but there are several risk factors and triggers that could contribute.

Read on to learn more about risk factors and triggers for psoriatic arthritis.

There are a number of risk factors that can increase your chances of developing psoriatic arthritis.

Having a history of psoriasis

The main precursor to psoriatic arthritis is a history of psoriasis, and these two conditions share many risk factors. It’s also important to note that psoriatic arthritis is more common in people who have severe cases of psoriasis or develop psoriasis plaques in particular areas like:

Other risk factors

Other risk factors that can increase your risk of developing psoriatic arthritis include:

  • Genetics or family history. Families tend to pass psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis through several genetic alterations.
  • Past use of corticosteroids. A history of using this type of steroid has been associated with an increased risk of developing psoriatic arthritis even years later.
  • Traumatic injury or infection. Traumatic injuries can lead to psoriasis through a process called the Koebner phenomenon. This goes for psoriatic arthritis, too. With this process, you develop arthritis in areas that were injured or damaged. The same is true for infections that were severe enough to require treatment with antibiotics.
  • More plaques. More areas of psoriasis, particular areas, and the amount of body area overall that’s affected can increase your risk of developing psoriatic arthritis.
  • Stress. There’s little evidence to support psychological stress as a risk factor for psoriatic arthritis, but there is some evidence that things like moving from one home to another may have an impact. More research is needed.

Like many chronic conditions, psoriatic arthritis can have periods of remission and flare-ups. Knowing what can trigger a flare-up for you can be helpful in keeping the condition under control.

While studies debate the connection between psoriatic arthritis and stress, smoking, or alcohol use, these have all been linked to flare-ups of the condition. Skin injuries may lead to new psoriasis plaques, but injuries to joints or other body parts may result in arthritis pain later, too.

Finally, anything that increases inflammation in the body can cause flare-ups of a host of autoimmune-related conditions, including psoriatic arthritis. Examples include: