Causes and Triggers of Psoriasis
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes redness, itchiness, and scaly patches on the surface of your skin.
The psoriatic scales are usually whitish-silver and develop red patches, which may later crack and bleed.
Scales develop on joints such as knees and elbows. They may also form on your hands, neck, armpits, feet, face, trunk, and scalp.
According to research conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 7.4 million U.S adults have psoriasis.
It’s important to note that psoriasis is not contagious and not curable. But, it’s controllable with medication.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of psoriasis depend on what type of psoriasis you’re suffering from and differ from person to person.
The symptoms tend to go through cycles flaring for a few weeks or months if made worse by a common trigger of psoriasis. They may also go into remission for a while.
When in remission, it doesn’t mean that psoriasis won’t come back; you’re just symptom-free at that time.
You should see your doctor if your symptoms become painful and cause discomfort.
Common signs and symptoms include:
- Red patches of skin covered with thick whitish-silver scales
- Burning and itching sensation
- Soreness around patches
- Painful and swollen joints
- Raised, inflamed red patches on the skin
- Small, pink-red spots on the surface of the skin
- Sausage-like swelling of the fingers and toes
- Pitted or ridged nails
What causes psoriasis?
Researchers have not found what exactly causes psoriasis. However, they have an idea of two factors: The immune system and Family history.
Family history or genetics
If you have a close family member who is suffering from psoriasis, you are at a higher risk of developing psoriasis. However, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), it is possible to develop psoriasis even if you don’t have a family history of the disease.
The immune system is your body’s natural defense against diseases and infections. In people with psoriasis, it attacks healthy skin cells by mistake. This mistaken attack causes the skin cells to speed-up causing new skin cells to develop too quickly. They are then pushed to the skin’s surface, where they pile up.
The most common triggers of psoriasis include:
High stress may trigger psoriasis. Learning to manage your stress and knowing your stress triggers may help prevent flare-ups.
In areas of the skin where you have a cut or scrape may trigger a flare-up. Sunburns, shots, or bug-bites may also trigger a new outbreak of psoriasis.
Some medications, such as lithium, antimalarial medications, and high blood pressure medications, are considered as psoriasis triggers.
Any illness that affects the immune system, such as ear infection, tonsillitis, and bronchitis, can trigger psoriasis.
Too much alcohol can trigger psoriasis flare-ups. Reduce alcohol consumption for the betterment of your skin.
Cold and dry weather conditions can trigger psoriasis flare-ups. Warm weather and sunlight improve psoriasis.
Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoking
Smoking increases the chances of developing psoriasis. If you’re already suffering from psoriasis and smoking or exposed to second-hand smoke, you’re likely to have more severe symptoms. It’s even worse if you’re a woman.
Psoriasis is a non -contagious chronic disease with no cure. The symptoms range from red skin patches, burning, and itchy sensation, swollen and painful joints, among others.
Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and learning to manage stress, may help ease the symptoms of psoriasis and reduce flare-ups.
Treatments are available to help manage symptoms. Try incorporating lifestyle habits as well as coping strategies to help you live better with psoriasis.