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Causes of Psoriasis

December 16, 2013

Psoriasis has a tendency to accelerate about five times faster the age of your skin. Moreover, the skin affected by psoriasis accumulates on the skin’s surface unlike healthy skin that sloughs off when it dies.

Scientists still have no answer as to what really causes psoriasis. They suspect, however, that genetic factors and triggers for psoriasis play a major role in its development. Scientists think that psoriasis happens when something inadvertently triggers the immune system. Environmental factors and genetics are the major reasons for psoriatic arthritis, a condition that affects the joints of the body.

Immune System Dysfunction – The Underlying Reason for Psoriasis

Doctors now know that a malfunction or an abnormality of the immune system can cause the occurrence of psoriasis. T cells, which are one form of white blood cells become abundant and attack the skin part where psoriasis has developed. The immune system rather than protecting the body from the effects of psoriasis worsens it by inflaming the affected skin area and causes accelerated skin cell growth.

When the immune system dysfunctions, the cytokines the body produces signal skin cells to reproduce and mature skin at a faster than average rate . This causes other negative reactions like inflammation and the production of more cytokines. This leads to a cycle where skin cells develop very fast, traveling to skin surface and accumulating as dead skin cells (white scales). The epidermis thickens up and blood vessels multiply and expand leading to the redness of the affected skin.

About one in 10 individuals carry genes that increase their likelihood for developing psoriasis. Interestingly in spite of psoriasis being suspected a genetically passed-on disease a lot of people with psoriasis say they don’t have a relative living with the disease. Scientists say psoriasis is not a genetically acquired disease per se but some people have problems in DNA chemicals that may result in misplaced, misshapen or missing proteins that can lead to immunological reactions that eventually lead to psoriasis symptoms.

A large number of the US population has the genes that can cause psoriasis; however, only about 3% of the population at the most will end up with psoriasis. Doctors think the predisposition toward psoriasis need involve specific triggers to fully develop this condition.

Psoriasis Triggers

A broad scope of triggers is associated with the flare up or development of psoriasis. These triggers can differ from person to person and can involve:

  • Injuries
  • Infections
  • Medicines
  • Stress

Injuries can generate psoriasis at the injury site. Even surgery can lead to psoriasis along the scar line. This development is termed the Koebner phenomenon and it can arise following cuts, sunburns, bug bites or vaccinations. About 50% of psoriasis sufferers experience this occurrence and it serves as a stern reminder to properly care for the skin particularly during the months of summer.

Certain drugs can contribute to a flare up of psoriasis. They can include:

  • Indomethacin – An anti inflammatory nonsteroidal medication
  • Quinidine or Inderal – These and other heart and high blood pressure medicines can trigger psoriasis flares.
  • Antimalarial drugs
  • Lithium – Utilized for different kind of psychiatric issues

Diseases like strepcoccal infection in the throat can also trigger psoriasis flare ups.

Other psoriasis triggers can include:

  • Heavy alcohol intake
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cold and dry weather
  • Diet
  • Allergies


Galina Semyonova is a licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist in New York City. She has studied extensively in the fields of biofeedback therapy, SCENAR therapy, Chinese herbal treatments and Chinese and Western nutrition.