Causes of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is one of the oldest skin disorders known to mankind; it has been recorded in many historical archives and was first recognized nearly 2000 years ago. Yet despite this long history, the disease is surrounded by a lot of mystery. The exact cause remains unknown and despite a lot of research, many facts about the disease still remain a puzzle.
The exact cause of psoriasis is not known but is believed to be related to a defect in the immune system. It is thought that the body's own guardian cells (white cells) turn against the healthy skin cells (auto immune disorder) by mistake and lead to psoriasis. What triggers our own cells to attack the skin is not well understood but is most likely linked either to the environment or a genetic defect. There is a strong familial component to psoriasis and the disorder does run in families. However, the exact genetic inheritance is not well understood.
What can trigger Psoriasis?
Psoriasis undergoes periods of remissions and relapses. However, there are certain things which can trigger an acute episode of psoriasis and these include:
- upper respiratory tract infection, esp. streptococcal throat infection
- skin injury either from a knife injury, insect bite or surgical incision
- prolonged sun exposure/sunburn
- emotional or physical stress
- exposure to cold weather
- smoking and alcohol consumption
- Certain medications, like lithium (used for manic depression), high blood pressure medications such as beta blockers, antimalarial drugs and iodine compounds
- Immunocompromised: individuals who have a weak immune system (e.g. HIV) have a higher incidence of psoriasis.
There is a strong belief that the condition is auto immune (our own body cells attacking the skin cells) and drug therapy is now being directed towards these rogue cells.