Causes of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic auto-immune condition in which the immune cells of the body mistakenly attack the body’s own skin cells. This triggers an abnormal response, resulting in a rapid growth of cells. This rapid build-up creates silvery scales of thickened skin resulting in excessive shedding. Psoriasis usually occurs on the scalp (scalp psoriasis), elbows, knees, lower back and genitals. Psoriasis is not contagious, and, in most cases, the rash is limited to a few patches of skin. In severe cases, it can cover large areas of the body.
The psoriasis triggers of autoimmunity are not known, however; it tends to run in families. A genetic background or connection has been verified in many cases. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 40% of people with psoriasis disease have family members suffering from the skin problem.
Some of the other causes of psoriasis that are believed to be psoriasis triggers are:
- Extreme stress: Mental stress is a major reason for psoriasis as it causes the body to release chemicals that boost the inflammatory response. This results in a rapid build-up of skin cells, causing stress-induced flare-up.
- Infections: Infections like strep throat (a bacterial infection that causes inflammation and pain in the throat) in particular, is linked with guttate psoriasis. Earaches, bronchitis, tonsillitis or respiratory infections such as a cold or the flu may also be psoriasis triggers or causes of psoriasis.
- Cold and dry weather: Dry air, defused natural sunlight and cold temperatures are causes of psoriasis skin disease.
- Friction and injuries to the skin: A cut, scrape, bug bite, infection or excessive scratching can also be psoriasis triggers.
- Excessive intake of alcohol and smoking: This can be a major reason for psoriasis as it triggers a flare-up and decreases the likelihood of psoriasis remission. It also reduces immunity and alters the immune system resulting in increased risk of infection.
Which areas are affected by psoriasis?
The common areas affected by psoriasis are the lower back, knees, elbows, ankles, hands, feet and scalp. Psoriasis can vary in intensity from mild to extremely debilitating cases. The disease can progress to affect other areas of the body, apart from those mentioned above. It can also spread to the fingernails and joints.
Who can get psoriasis?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of psoriasis in countries varies between 0.09% and 11.4%. The incidence is higher amongst young adults, though it can strike at any age and can affect both sexes. There is also a significant cost to mental well-being, such as higher rates of depression. The report by WHO also states that the social exclusion, discrimination and stigma are psychologically devastating for individuals suffering from psoriasis and also their families. There have been cases of psoriasis patients with suicidal tendencies due to the social stigma associated with the condition.
Psoriasis is not infectious and cannot be passed from one person to another through physical contact.
However, the severity of psoriasis is also measured by the way in which it affects a person's quality of life. According to a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.3% to 34.7% of individuals with psoriasis develop chronic, inflammatory arthritis (psoriatic arthritis). This further leads to joint deformities and disability. Individuals with psoriasis are reported to be at an increased risk of developing other serious clinical conditions such as cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases.
People with psoriasis have cases that are considered moderate to severe depending on the intensity.
What is the main cause of psoriasis?
What does the beginning of psoriasis look like?
- Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales of skin cells
- Dry, cracked skin that may sometimes bleed or itch
- Burning or soreness on the affected skin
- Thickened, pitted nails
Psoriasis has also been linked to a higher risk of psoriatic arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and eye conditions like conjunctivitis. It is, therefore, necessary to undergo an effective and timely treatment to understand the exact cause of psoriasis and evaluate its symptoms. This will help in avoiding further complications.