Psoriasis is a skin disorder that makes skin cells grow at a very rapid rate. Growing approximately five times over the normal rate, the body cannot keep up with this growth. This causes old skin cells to pile up rather than falling off, creating thick, itchy, flaky patches on top of the skin.
There are a few psoriasis causes, but the main triggers occur underneath the skin. Researchers believe psoriasis to be an autoimmune disease, with the triggers being a mix of genetics and environmental factors, but the exact psoriasis causes remain unknown.
Each person’s individual genes act as instructions for the body’s cells. Controlling aspects of the body such as hair color, eye color, height, and shape. When affected with psoriasis, the genes controlling the signals in your immune system get confused. Rather than protecting the body from foreign invaders, the immune system promotes inflammation as a reaction to environmental factors, and causes skin cells to go into overdrive.
People who are affected with psoriasis are known to have 25 genes that vary from normal skin. Researchers believe that it takes several of these gene variations to cause the disease, and are still looking to find the main players. While about 10% of the population has genes that increase the likelihood of psoriasis, less than 3% of people actually suffer from the disease.
If the right combination of genes is present, a trigger can cause psoriasis to flare up. Triggers involve outside factors such as bug bites, infections, sunburn, or a cut. The most common infection to cause a flare of psoriasis is strep. Children often experience strep throat prior to their first flare up of psoriasis. Other infections, such as a cold, pneumonia, bronchitis, and ear infections can also be triggers for the disease.
Some other triggers include stress, weight, smoking, and alcohol use. The immune system is likely to have a similar response to emotional stress as it is to physical stress such as infections or injuries. This is why researchers believes stress may be a factor.
People who have excess weight on their bodies tend to have more flare ups where their skin cannot breathe, possible in a crease or fold of the skin. Another unhealthy trait that triggers psoriasis is smoking. This habit can double the risk for a flare up, as well as make it difficult to improve current symptoms. Alcohol may also decrease the effectiveness of psoriasis treatments.