Experts believe that psoriasis is a problem with the immune system that causes the skin to regenerate faster than usual. In plaque psoriasis, which is the most common type, this rapid turnover of cells results in scales and red patches.
However, what exactly causes the immune system to malfunction is unknown. Researchers think both genetics and environmental factors play a role.
Psoriasis is not contagious, but it tends to run in families. It may skip generations though, like a grandmother and her granddaughter having it, but not the mother.
Immune System Causes Psoriasis
As earlier mentioned, psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune conditions are the result of the body attacking itself. In the case of psoriasis, white blood cells known as T-cells attack the skin cells.
In a typical body, white blood cells attack and destroy invading bacteria and fight infections. This attack causes the skin cell production process to go into overdrive. The sped-up skin cell production causes new skin cells to develop too fast.
Newly produced skin cells push to the surface, where they pile up. This process results in the plaques associated with psoriasis. The attacks on the skin cells also cause red, inflamed areas of skin to develop.
Genetics Causes Psoriasis
Since psoriasis runs in families, you may be more likely to get psoriasis if you have a close relative with the condition. But, the exact role genetics plays in psoriasis is unclear.
Research has shown that many different genes may cause the development of psoriasis. And, it is likely that different combinations of genes may make people more vulnerable to the condition. However, having these genes does not mean you will develop psoriasis.
Hormone Changes Causes Psoriasis
The disease often shows up or flares during puberty. Menopause can also trigger it. During pregnancy, your symptoms may get better or even go away. But after the baby is born, you might have a flare.
What can trigger psoriasis?
Plenty of everyday things can act as a trigger, causing psoriasis to appear for the first time. Common psoriasis triggers include:
- Cold, dry weather
- Strep infection
- Skin injuries
These triggers can also cause psoriasis flare-ups. Different people have different triggers. For instance, periods of intense stress may trigger your psoriasis, but cold weather may not.
That is why it is important for people who have psoriasis to know what triggers their psoriasis. Avoiding triggers can reduce psoriasis flares.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but a range of treatments can improve symptoms and the appearance of skin patches. In most cases, the first treatment used will be a topical treatment, such as vitamin D or topical corticosteroids. Topical treatments are creams and ointments applied to the skin.
If these treatment are ineffective or your condition is more severe, you may have more success with phototherapy. Phototherapy involves exposing your skin to certain types of ultraviolet light, such as in the use of UVB phototherapy lamps. In extreme cases, dermatologists may prescribe systemic treatments. These are oral or injected medicines that work throughout the whole body.