What Are The Causes of Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is one of the illnesses that have been bothering mankind for centuries. This skin disorder is an autoimmune disease and is estimated that about 3% of the current global population suffers with this skin condition. It affects people of all ages and races from young infants to older adults. While many psoriasis patients develop the condition later on in their lives, in numerous cases, patients have the disorder all their lives. So what are the causes of psoriasis?
It is not surprising that psoriasis is one of the most misunderstood skin conditions. While in the Biblical times, the condition has been believed to be a milder variety of leprosy, Greeks knew it was different. They even coined a specific term for psoriasis—‘lepra,’ meaning ‘scaly skin condition.’ However, no significant evidence in the past has been identified to explain what really causes psoriasis. To date, there are three identified possible causes of the condition, namely, genetics, the immune system, and environmental factors.
Genetic Causes of Psoriasis
For quite some time, it has been believed that psoriasis is hereditary in nature. Thus, it could only be passed through heredity, and not through skin contact. This is the reason why psoriasis is not communicable or infectious in any way. Several research efforts have found that there are actually nine genetic mutations that possibly lead to the onset of psoriasis. Included in those mutations is the one called PSORS-1 on chromosome 6. This is scientifically identified as the most likely genetic cause of the skin condition. This type of mutation is identified as affecting skin cells production in specific parts of the body.
However, genetics does not seem to act alone with this disease. Individuals that are identified as having the genes associated with psoriasis often never show signs of any psoriasis in their lifetime. This means that there must be other factors involved in causing the psoriasis to become active.
Is The Immune System The Cause of Psoriasis?
The immune system is responsible for protecting the human body against microorganisms that cause disease. In its normal function, the immune system produces white blood cells that create antibodies, which in turn combat viruses and bacteria. Your immune system produces a special type of white blood cells, called T-cells. In people with psoriasis T-Cells are over produced by the body. Such T-cells attack and invade skin cells. In the process, the natural skin cells are forced to multiply in an abnormally rapid rate that stack up on the surface of the skin. This causes an over production of normal skin cells that normally take 30 days to produce, die and fall off naturally. In the case of plaque psoriasis this normal 30 day process can occur in as little as 3-6 days causing a significant build up of dead skin cells.
A proof that psoriasis is caused by an abnormal function of the immune system is the observation that immune-suppressing treatments could effectively clear the skin disorder. Genetic factors are still believed to trigger immune abnormalities that lead to psoriasis formation. However, the two must be studied together if we are eventually going to find a cure for psoriasis.
Environmental Causes of Psoriasis
Believe it or not, several researchers are pointing to the possibility that there are environmental triggers for the disorder. In general, it is believed that environmental factors can prompt the formation of psoriasis in persons who have genetic mutations (mentioned above) and genetic factors. There is a significant amount of anecdotal evidence that shows the effects of trauma on the body can trigger psoriasis to occur.
These triggers can be something significant like a serious disease or even severe stress on the body. Or it can be triggered by something as simple as a really bad sunburn. Unfortunately the direct connection between environmental factors and genetics have yet to be identified.
So What Are The Causes of Psoriasis?
As you can see we still have a lot to learn about psoriasis. Scientists are quickly learning about many different things that can cause psoriasis. They are also identifying some great treatments for this disease. However, right now it is clear that psoriasis can affect each individual differently. It appears to be a completely unbiased disease that can affect anyone of any race, sex, age or even geographic location. It is the #1 autoimmune disease in the world and millions upon millions of dollars are now being spent on research to help find a cure. For now the actual cause of psoriasis remains a mystery. The good news is that even though we may not know the exact causes of psoriasis scientific development and research is helping to develop some excellent treatments for this disease.