The Causes Of Psoriasis
On the surface, psoriasis may look just like any typical skin diseases, showing symptoms such as itchiness and different colored patches on the topmost layer of the epidermis. In fact, the most common form of psoriasis—plaque psoriasis—appears as elevated red areas covered by silvery- white accumulation of dead skin cells. Psoriasis often shows on locations such as the outer parts of elbows and knees and spreads to other areas such as the scalp, palms, soles of feet and even the genitals. Minor psoriasis is usually localized only in one or two regions of the body, while the major ones are usually extended throughout a larger area.
However, you should know that psoriasis is not merely what it seems. In reality, it is one of the chronic diseases of immune system disorder still under research even until today.
What is psoriasis actually?
In actual fact, psoriasis is a lifelong disorder of the body’s immune system, in which the white blood cells or T-cells that produce antibodies misinterpret unwounded skin consisting of normal cells as pathogen, or disease-causing agents, and therefore trigger the brain to initiate rapid production of new skin cells to replace the unreal damaged parts. This speedy formation of new skin cells is unfortunately not followed by proportionally shortened life cycle of normal skin cells. Normal skin cells regenerate every 28 days; however, in psoriasis patients, new cells are produced every three to six days—hence the epidermis buildup!
Although psoriasis is not contagious and there have been treatments developed to overcome its symptoms, an effective cure has yet to be discovered. Thus, relieving the symptoms of psoriasis will not guarantee it from recurring.
To prevent symptoms of psoriasis to occur, nevertheless, you can learn some factors that could possibly trigger their appearance.
Genetic Factor: A Probable Cause of Psoriasis?
There have been numerous researches conducted to verify if genetic factor is indeed a definitive cause of psoriasis. Nonetheless, despite the number of studies showing it is, there is almost equally weighted outcome proving that it is not necessarily so. For example, despite it has been shown that about 30% of psoriasis patients have seemed to inherit the condition from any of their parents; many parents who suffer from the disease proclaim that none of their children have similar condition. To elaborate further on, in fact, the rest of psoriasis patients said there was no history of psoriasis in their families. So, is psoriasis truly inherited?
A study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics (2006) showed the role of a particular genetic combination or mutation in the likelihood of psoriasis in its human carriers. Despite the probable nine different genetic mutations that have been investigated to potentially cause psoriasis, one particular mutation has been singled out to be the most likely be the deciding factor on who has or does not have the disease. The mutation of chromosome-6—subsequently known as PSORS-1 for psoriasis susceptibility level 1—has been identified to have taken place in more than 2,700 psoriasis patients. This number of patient samples was taken out of 680 families in which any one or both parents have suffered from the same disease.
However, although scientific community in general has agreed that PSORS-1 is the most likely cause of psoriasis, research conducted by James T. Elder, MD, PhD, has shown that the particular genetic mutation does not always result in this disorder. In fact, for every human carrier of the mutated gene who suffers from psoriasis, there are 10 others who do not have the condition at all.
Furthermore, investigations have also implied that PSORS-1 may not only be solely related to development of psoriasis alone. On the contrary, development of type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis may also be linked to presence of the mutated gene in the human body. Thus, people with the particular genetic mutation may not necessarily suffer from psoriasis; instead, they may also have as equal chance to suffer from type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
The truth is while the risk of having psoriasis increases if one or both parents suffer from the disease, the chance of suffering from other immune system disorder such as diabetes or Crohn’s disease is as proportionally high as well.
So, after this long elaboration, we go back to square one, “Why do some people have psoriasis while others don’t? Why do some people with PSORS-1 gene suffer from psoriasis while others who also have the same mutated gene suffer from diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis?”
What triggers psoriasis
Many investigative reports suggesting what may have triggered psoriasis instead of those other PSORS-1 originated diseases might have just provided us the answers. Among the potential causes gathered from these studies are skin injuries, wounds or abrasions, stress or anxiety, humid, cold and cloudy weather, strep infections from mild sore throat to pneumonia, and also sunburn. Any of these incidents may, although not always, lead to appearance of psoriasis in people who inherit the mutated PSORS-1 gene.
Particularly for those who inherit the genetic mutation, allergy to certain medications may also trigger psoriasis. Dermatologists have recounted witnessing patients suffering from psoriasis shortly after suffering from sore throat, sunburn or taking as simple as typical garden or home remedies such as aspirin to beta-blockers used to control high blood pressure and particular heart conditions. Anti-malarial drugs and lithium, which is a common home remedy for bipolar disorder, have also been stated to lead psoriasis.
Nevertheless, should we fear of suffering from the particular disorder?
Uncertainties in Psoriasis
Basically, no one would be able to predict in advance whether or not he or she would suffer from psoriasis in future. Even those who carry PSORS-1 gene said to likely cause psoriasis cannot be certain that they would have the disease because many of those with similar genetic predisposition in fact do not suffer from it.
In addition, while on some people psoriasis has clearly appeared from certain triggering incidents, on others the cause may not be that obvious. It could be something that might have occurred in the past and hence been forgotten, or maybe it simply appears out of the blue, without any precedence.
Last but not least, even if one has the combination of both PSORS-1 mutation and one or some of the reported triggers, psoriasis is not a definite outcome. So, if you are not suffering from psoriasis, even if your parents are or any of the causes have occurred to you, why should you worry?