Psoriasis is a common but chronic skin problem that is highly unpredictable. Patients have nil or very mild symptoms sometimes but suddenly have severe outbursts due to one or other triggers. Psoriasis symptoms vary from patient to patient greatly. While some find it just a nuisance, but some feel miserable due to the huge social impact, pain and discomfort. What can cause this irritating and intractable skin condition?
What scientists say?
Scientists are still at learning stage about what causes psoriasis and why triggers cause the symptoms to act up. By studying all that takes place inside the body resulting in plaque formation and other symptoms, scientists believe that immune system gets triggered mistakenly and people with a family history of psoriasis develop psoriasis. According to them, there is a definite interaction between genetic susceptibility and triggers which is not yet fully understood.
Root causes of psoriasis
Psoriasis expert, Colby Evans, MD, Austin, Texas, says, “…now know that psoriasis is an abnormality or malfunction of the immune system…”
- Immune system – Immune system’s role in our body is to protect the body from invading infections and organisms. But in people with psoriasis, the immune system – specifically white blood cells called T-cells abnormally attack healthy skin cells and cause speedy growth of cells. These cells pile up; skin gets thick and scaly, underneath area becomes inflamed and appears red. Why this happens is not yet fully understood, but hereditary factor is part of overall picture.
- Genetics – The exact role of genetics in development of psoriasis in not yet fully identified but it is seen that usually psoriasis occurs in families. One third of psoriasis patients have one or more family member with the condition. It may skip generations. But genes make people more receptive and at risk to get psoriasis. Diverse and dissimilar genes and different gene combinations are shown to have a definite effect and increase susceptibility and chances of occurrence.
- Triggers – A number of triggers, from emotional stress, drugs, throat infection to hormone changes can either cause psoriasis or can cause symptom flare-ups. Dermatologists believe that external triggers set off patients’ genetic flaw/defect in immune function to cause an onset or flare-up.
So far, psoriasis has no cure, but various topical treatments help improve symptoms and clear up red scaly patches. But active research is on for controlling and containing the malfunctioning immune system more successfully.