Psoriasis is a chronic condition characterized by the rapid build-up of skin cells. It is caused by an overactive immune system. The build-up of cells causes scaling on the skin. Inflammation and redness around the skin are fairly common. Typically, these scales are whitish-silver and develop in thick, red patches. Sometimes, these patches may crack and bleed.
The skin cells have a life cycle of one month. In people with psoriasis, this production process may occur in just a few days. Because of this, the skin cells do not have the time to fall off naturally. This rapid overproduction leads to a build-up of skin cells.
- Immune system
Autoimmune conditions are the result of the body attacking itself. White blood cells in a normal body are deployed to attack and destroy invading bacteria and fight infections. But in the case of psoriasis, a type of white blood cells (T cells) mistakenly attack the skin cells. This attack causes the skin cells to go into overdrive. The rapid production of skin cells causes the new cells to develop too quickly, and the old cells are pushed to the skin’s surface, where they pile up.
Some people may inherit certain genes due to which they may face a high risk of developing psoriasis. One is at a higher risk of developing it if an immediate family member is suffering from this skin condition. Only a limited number of people have a genetic predisposition towards the development of psoriasis.
- Family history
This is one of the most significant factors that may cause psoriasis. Having one parent with this disease increases a child’s risk of developing this condition. This risk may rise further if both parents have psoriasis.
- Viral and bacterial infections
People with HIV are more likely to develop psoriasis than people who do not have this infection. Recurring infections, especially strep throat, in children and young adults can also increase the risk.
An individual may face a flare-up of psoriasis due to unusually high stress levels. If one learns to reduce or manage stress, one can reduce and possibly prevent flare-ups.
Obesity is a significant risk factor for psoriasis because of the excessive accumulation of fat that increases the production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines. Cytokines increase inflammation, which leads to worsening of the symptoms. They also promote the formation of plaques in areas with high volumes of fat.
Smoking tobacco not only increases the risk of psoriasis but may also increase the severity of the disease.
- Skin injury
Any form of trauma to the skin, like a cut or a scrape, a surgical procedure, or even a tattoo or sunburn, can cause a flare-up of psoriasis. This is known as a Koebner phenomenon.
It is vital to look for the symptoms of psoriasis to get diagnosed and treated at the earliest.