What are the Causes of Psoriasis?
There are many causes of psoriasis, but like a lot of skin conditions, it is typically due to a mix of genetic and environmental stressors that will set off your psoriasis.
If you have the right combination of genes, psoriasis is typically caused by some extra factor, often called a “flare.” Flares can be skin injuries, infections, or sometimes HIV. Some examples of skin injuries include bug bites, scrapes, cuts, bad sunburns, or even an excess of itching. Guttate psoriasis, which appears as small, red drops, can be caused by infections, like strep throat. In children, strep throat appears before the first “flare” of psoriasis. Tonsillitis, ear aches, bronchitis or even respiratory infections, such as the flu or pneumonia, can be what causes psoriasis. Psoriasis can also be seen in the early stages of HIV, but usually treatments can alleviate your symptoms and it gets better. Other flares include drinking too much alcohol, cold temperatures, stress, and smoking.
You should also be aware of some medications that can make your psoriasis worse. There is lithium, which is often used to treat bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. High blood pressure or other heart medications can also do the same.
With regards to the genetic factors, it is most often caused by some sort of gene mutation, and can be inherited. Approximately 10 percent of Americans inherit the genes for psoriasis, but not all of them experience a “flare,” and therefore, do not know they have the condition. Only about 2-3 percent actually pass the mutation down to their offspring. While the exact genetic mutation is unknown, scientists believe it has to do with a person’s T-cells. Your T-cells usually fight off bacteria and other germs, but in people with psoriasis, it is believed that these T-cells begin to mutate and attack your healthy skin cells. Scientists believe there are about 25 different mutations that can causes the T-cells to malfunction in this way, so it’s not just one specific mutation that can cause it.
There are measures you can take to reduce your “flare” ups. There are medications and medical treatments, but also lifestyle changes that you can make.
One lifestyle change can be reducing the amount of stress in your life. There are many ways to do this, such as identifying your obvious stressors and cutting them out. Other stress relievers include, medication, yoga, or talking to a therapist.
Being aware and taking extra good care of your skin can also other way to prevent “flare” ups. Things like sunburns can be prevented by simply applying sunscreen before going to the beach or part-taking in outside sports activities.
Practicing good hygiene can also help you. Infections like pneumonia or respiratory infections can be prevented if you take care of your body right.
The last thing you can do to prevent your “flare” ups is to eat a healthy diet. Scientists have observed that being overweight or obese can make symptoms of psoriasis worse. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regular can help you lose weight, and also prevent you from gaining weight. If you have trouble with this, you can go see a nutritionist and/or personal trainer for help.
The takeaway message: Psoriasis has risk factors including genetics and environmental stressors, but if you can identify these things, you can manage your psoriasis. Psoriasis cannot be cured, but it can be treated and you can live a normal, healthy life with your condition.