Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
April 16, 2021
Psoriasis is classified as an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is one in which the immune system attacks the body’s healthy cells, mistaking them for harmful threats, such as infection. Psoriasis is a symptom of your immune system malfunctioning. What causes the immune system to malfunction is a mystery, but researchers believe it is a combination of genetics and your environment.
The main causes of psoriasis are:
Psoriasis has a hereditary risk factor but is often triggered by an environmental condition. The factors that trigger psoriasis may be within a patient’s control – like smoking and alcohol consumption – or something totally out of his or her control – like the weather in their area, trauma to the skin, or an infection.
EverydayDr is partnered with PlushCare, a telehealth company that connects patients with online doctors. PlushCare was just named one of the top startups of 2021 by Forbes, and doctors have an average of 15 years of experience. This experience and expertise enable doctors to be able to diagnose, treat, and even prescribe medication for psoriasis, all virtually. You can book a same-day appointment with PlushCare here.
Psoriasis is a skin disease developed when excess cells build-up on the skin, causing:
Psoriasis is a chronic disorder that is not contagious. “Patients with psoriasis,” explains the National Psoriasis Foundation, “incur annual health care costs that are significantly greater than those of the general population and may amount to $135 billion annually.”
The skin may crack and bleed. Psoriasis can also affect the nails. The symptoms of this skin condition may vary from mild to severe, and while the symptoms may get better or even disappear over time, they may also become worse.
The onset of psoriasis usually requires a genetic predisposition and then an environmental trigger. If one or both of your parents have psoriasis, you are more likely to get it – but it may not develop until there is the right condition or trigger.
While some environmental factors, the following could be psoriasis causes:
Researchers believe that a genetic predisposition is also essential.
According to dermatologist April W. Armstrong, MD, MPH, “Psoriasis has 2 peaks of onset, the first at age 20 to 30 years and the second at age 50 to 60 years.” So if you find yourself with psoriasis suddenly later on in life, it’s not abnormal.
Much like the causes that contribute to the onset of psoriasis, some triggers cause flare-ups or outbreaks. Below are some factors that might trigger your psoriasis or make an existing rash worse:
In general, the causes of psoriasis initially are a mix of genetics and certain environmental triggers. Once diagnosed with psoriasis, an individual can have recurring outbreaks of rashes that can be increased and worsened by environmental and lifestyle triggers.
Psoriasis causes vary from person to person. Some people may be fine drinking and smoking, but that might be a definite trigger for another person.
There are different types of psoriasis. The skin condition is usually classified based on its pattern and the part of the body affected. The most common types are:
While there is no known cure for psoriasis, the symptoms can be treated. The activities of the immune system that cause psoriasis can also be reduced, slowing down the rate of cell build-up on the skin.
Treatments of psoriasis include:
The use of creams and ointments that are specially formulated to moisturize and revitalize the skin. The creams will also smooth the skin and reduce inflammation as well as the rate at which skin cells are being produced.
Creams and ointments prevent water loss from the skin, preventing skin dryness and scale formation. They also prevent or relieve itching at the affected areas of the body. Creams and ointments are only useful for mild-to-moderate forms of psoriasis. They may also be used to prevent or decrease the severity of flares.
Many oral medications and injectables for treating psoriasis are immunosuppressants, which means they reduce the activity of the immune system and its abnormal attack on skin cells. Methotrexate and cyclosporine work similarly to immunosuppressants and are taken orally. Both methotrexate and cyclosporine have potentially serious side-effects, so periodic blood tests are ordered.
Biopharmaceuticals are injections that are usually administered to suppress the action of white blood cells that cause the rapid formation of the skin cells. Immunosuppressants weaken the immune system response, therefore, exposing the body to an increased risk for infection. Biopharmaceuticals are usually used to treat people with moderate to severe psoriasis.
Retinoids are other prescription medications that can be used to treat psoriasis. They work by inhibiting the formation of the skin cells. When fewer skin cells are formed, it will reduce the chance of scaling and rashes. Retinoids can cause congenital disabilities and should never be taken by women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Sunlight and ultraviolet rays can also be used to treat psoriasis. Ultraviolet radiation can suppress the immune system and decrease inflammation. Treating the skin with light rays can also slow skin cell production and reduce flare-ups.
If you’d like to speak to a doctor about your psoriasis symptoms and a long-term treatment plan, you can make an appointment through our partner, PlushCare. PlushCare’s board-certified physicians can speak to you more about psoriasis causes, diagnose psoriasis, and even prescribe medication, all from the comfort of your home.
Click here to book an appointment with an online doctor with PlushCare.
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