Psoriasis has its own commercials on television, advertisements on the internet, and creams at the local drugs stores, but do people actually know what it is? It is much more than flaky or itchy skin. Psoriasis is actually an auto-immune disease. An autoimmune disease is one where the immune system attacks itself, instead of protecting itself, and it can make a person ill.
Psoriasis is genetic for the most part, but just because no one in the family has it doesn’t mean you are automatically safe. The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis. This happens when the skin cells begin to reproduce too quickly. There is an imbalance in the skin renewal process. In normal skin, there is a constant process of new skin replacing the old and dying skin. This process normal takes 30 days. In Psoriasis, the process in 10 times faster meaning new skin is coming in before the old skin dies off. The new skin has nowhere to go, so it stays beneath the surface and creates a look of thick, red patchy skin.
There are three main symptoms of psoriasis. The first is the major redness of the skin and the shedding. This is called Erythodermic. The second symptom is inflammation of the damaged skin known as Inverse. The third symptom and probably the most annoying are the Pustulars. These are the lesions that cause the scaling and cause those scale to weep, especially if picked at.
No one is sure of the real cause of psoriasis, but research in ongoing. Most researchers say it is genetic and runs in the family. The main problem with psoriasis is that the immune system starts to speed up and tries to heal the skin with it isn’t necessary. This seems to be the main part of research now, figuring out what triggers that increase.
There are a few things that can trigger psoriasis, but at times it will simply come and go as it pleases. Some major triggers include: allergies, infection, side effects of medications, stress, sunburn, or injury and scratches on the infected area of the skin.
Psoriasis has no known cure, but learning what it is, is the first step in dealing with this disease on a day to day basis.