What Causes Psoriasis?
To understand what causes psoriasis, it is first important to understand that there is a difference between what causes it and what triggers it. Psoriasis is not a contagious disease, and it cannot be contracted through contact with someone who has it. It is not an infection. It is an internal disease that is the result of an autoimmune reaction to stimulus.
An autoimmune reaction happens when the body does not recognize normal, healthy cells and misinterprets them as dangerous or toxic. The body’s white blood cells, those cells responsible for fighting viruses or infections, turn on healthy cells and attack them. The net result is that the body turns on itself and attacks healthy cells.
Genetic predisposition is one primary factor that causes psoriasis.
Most people suffer through an infection or stress, or even a serious virus from time to time. Only three percent of the people in the world will possibly suffer from an outbreak of psoriasis as the result of an infection. Research shows that among those people who do, there is usually a genetic factor, like a family history with the disease that links those who have it.
With a genetic predisposition to having psoriasis, a simple internal infection or an injury to the skin can lead to an outbreak of the disease. In these cases, the infection does not cause psoriasis, it triggers an outbreak. The disease is strongest when the immune system of the person who has it is weakest. Typical symptoms of psoriasis include scales, white flakes, pain and tenderness, inflammation, pus, open sores, and redness.
The weakened immune system begins to misinterpret biological signals, and turns on healthy cells. With psoriasis, those cells are skin cells. In the average person, skin cells form deep inside of the skin tissue, and over the course of about a month, they rise to the surface of the skin. People with this disease have a situation where the immune system begins to attack healthy skin cells, and that speeds up the process of the skin replacing itself from within.
The autoimmune reaction that causes psoriasis makes it a painful and difficult disease to manage without medical treatment.
Psoriasis is a condition that causes the skin to thicken and become red or pink, with flakes – or scales – of skin on the surface that fall off. In the case of pustular psoriasis, there may be symptoms of pockets filled with pus. Because the body is attacking healthy skin cells, this condition can lead to a rash that will persist until the triggering cause fades, or the immune system is treated so that it will cease to attack healthy cells. Only a medical professional can accurately diagnose psoriasis, and differentiate between it and other types of rashes.
Because it is a disease that reflects an internal problem, it will not react or be treated by topical treatments that are useful for other skin conditions that are superficial. While there are topical treatments for psoriasis, and many do work, other forms of treatment are systemic treatments given orally or through injection, and there are treatments that use ultraviolet light to give relief. Once a diagnosis confirms that the skin condition is psoriasis, a medical professional can usually determine the most effective treatment plan to both treat the symptoms of the disease, and to prevent secondary infections.