Psoriasis is caused by factors related to the immune system and genetics. Here is what you need to know about this skin condition.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to grow very quickly. Usually, skin cells grow deep underneath the skin surface. They slowly rise to the surface as older skin cells die and fall off. This process usually takes around a month.
In psoriasis patients, the rapid growth of skin cells may occur in just a few days. It causes the cells to build up on the skin surface, which results in plaques or scaling. The scales are usually white, and they develop in red patches.
Psoriasis patients may experience redness and inflammation around the scales, and feel itchiness in the area. The patches may crack and bleed, especially if scratched.
The cales usually develop on joints, such as elbows and knees. They are also commonly found on the neck, scalp, and face.
Psoriasis is rather common in the United States. About 7.4 million Americans have this condition.
Causes of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is caused by two key factors, namely the immune system and genetics.
● Immune system
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. The immune system consists of white blood cells or T cells that attack bacteria and prevent infections. However, in psoriasis patients, the T cells mistakenly attack skin cells.
The attack causes skin cell production to be sped up. New skin cells grow too quickly and pile at the skin’s surface. This is the cause of the plaques that psoriasis patients experience. The attack also causes inflamed areas on the skin.
Some people have genes that make them more likely to develop the condition. If you have a family member with psoriasis, there is a higher chance that you have it too. However, this percentage is small. Only 2 to 3 percent of people with the gene develop psoriasis.
Treatment for Psoriasis
Psoriasis cannot be completely cured, but symptoms can be managed through treatments.
● Topical Treatment
Creams and ointments applied to affected areas can help for mild to moderate cases.
People with moderate to severe psoriasis may use prescribed medications from dermatologists. However, medications may have side effects.
● Light Therapy (Phototherapy)
Phototherapy for psoriasis is effective for moderate to severe cases. Since psoriasis is caused by overly rapid skin cell growth, UV light is used to slow the growth.