Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cells. The immune system normally fights disease. In a healthy body, the immune system works to protect the body from outside threats. But when the immune system malfunctions, it goes haywire and attacks the body’s own cells. The result is psoriasis, one of the most common types of autoimmune disorders.
Even though psoriasis has been around for over 1,000 years, the exact cause of the disease is not understood. However, doctors and researchers have identified several risk factors that are commonly seen in people who develop psoriasis. These risk factors not only increase the chance of developing psoriasis, but they also make the disease worse. So if you have psoriasis, keep reading to learn about the most common causes of the disease and the treatment options available.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a disease characterized by red, scaly patches on the skin. These patches may cover any part of the body, including the scalp, elbows, knees, and soles of the feet. T lesions often appear on the palms of the hands, the backs of the knees, the lower back, and inside the elbows. While psoriasis can occur at any age, it is most common in adults between 30 and 60 years old. While it can affect both men and women, it is slightly more common in women.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body is attacking itself. The exact cause of psoriasis is not known. But certain factors have been linked to an increased risk of developing psoriasis. One of the most common risk factors for developing psoriasis is having Scots or German ancestry. People of Irish, Italian, Ashkenazi Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, and other ancestries also have a higher risk of psoriasis.
Research has found that psoriasis is most common in people with a family history of the disease. People with a strong family history are more likely to develop psoriasis. But even if you don’t have a family history of psoriasis, you may still be at a higher risk if you have certain inherited traits. One inherited trait that has been linked to psoriasis is the “HLA” genotype.
HLA genotype refers to the type of human leukocyte antigen found in the human body. The HLA genotype refers to the combinations of HLA antigens that are found in each person’s body. There are four main subtypes of HLA, including the following:
- DR-positive: More common in Caucasians and Ashkenazi Jews. This subtype is associated with a lower risk of psoriasis.
- DR-negative: Common in Asians, Middle Easterners, Africans, and Native Americans. People with this subtype are at a higher risk of psoriasis.
- B27-positive: This subtype is much more common in people of Japanese and Chinese descent.
- B27-negative: This subtype is most common in people of Italian ancestry.
Psoriasis is closely linked to certain environmental factors. But these factors are not the actual cause of psoriasis. Rather, they are risk factors that make it more likely that you will develop the disease. There is a strong association between the development of psoriasis and the following factors:
- Higher levels of “stress” – Stress can increase the risk of psoriasis.
- Higher levels of “inflammation” – Increased levels of inflammation are linked with psoriasis.
- Higher levels of “illness” – Having other “ diseases ” increases your risk of psoriasis.
- Higher levels of “infection” – Having a “ cold ” or “flu” increases your risk of psoriasis.
- Higher levels of “fats” – Eating a lot of saturated fats can increase your risk of psoriasis.
Psoriasis is linked with bacterial infections. This includes infections with:
- Yeast – Candida albicans is the most common yeast found in people with psoriasis.
- Staphylococcus – Streptococcus pyogenes is the most common bacterial culprit.
- Mycobacteria – Psoriasis is often accompanied by Mycobacterium avium.
Some psoriasis medications can also trigger unwanted side effects like yeast infections. So it’s important to use protection during sexual intercourse while you are taking these medications.
Food and Drug Reactions
Psoriasis is often linked to trigger foods and medications. Some of these include:
- Sugar – Sugar is a common trigger for psoriasis.
- Stimulants – Many medications for psychiatric disorders and conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression can also trigger psoriasis.
- Alcohol – Excessive alcohol intake is linked with a higher risk of developing psoriasis. This is especially true for those who are not at normal weight.
Psoriasis can also be related to “bad” bacteria in the gut. The exact cause of this is not known. But it is thought to be related to a build-up of “toxins” in the gut. This is especially true for people with a history of Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.
Treatment of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic disease that can be difficult to manage. So before you decide on a treatment approach, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each treatment option.
There are currently no “cures” for psoriasis. But there are several effective treatment options that have proven to help manage the disease.
- Topical medications – Topical medications like steroids and moisturizers can be used to treat psoriasis. Topical medications can only be used when the underlying cause of the psoriasis is still present. Topical medications can also be used to prevent future attacks of psoriasis.
- Phototherapy – Phototherapy is used to treat psoriasis on the scalp or elbows. You would go to a doctor’s office for two to three short visits every week for about a month.
- Psoriasis diet – A psoriasis diet is designed to help you limit your intake of foods that can trigger your psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a common and unpredictable autoimmune disease. In order to have the best outcome, it’s important to understand the risk factors and factors associated with the disease. Once you know these factors, you can take steps to minimize your risk of developing psoriasis.
With psoriasis, there is no “cure” or 100% effective treatment. But with proper diet, supplements, and medications, you can have a better quality of life while living with psoriasis.