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Psoriasis: Causes and Treatments

As the largest organ in your body, your skin has a number of very important functions, including acting as a barrier to protect from infection, helping regulate temperature, and shielding you from the cellular damage caused by the Sun’s ultraviolet rays.  Despite this, it is not uncommon to see instances when these functions break down and cause problems – such as skin infections, excessive sweating, overheating, skin cancer, et al.

However, less understood, and certainly less commonly explained, there is a multitude of other problems that can affect the skin.  As the body’s ‘largest organ’, your skin is susceptible to every other issue and abnormality that your other organs are susceptible to, however, there are a number of conditions that express themselves uniquely when they affect the skin.  Of these, those involving the immune system’s interaction with the skin tend to be the most significant and problematic for patients (autoimmune skin disease).  The most notable and common of these immune conditions are eczema, lupus, and psoriasis.

Psoriasis is essentially the manifestation of one’s own immune system attacking the skin and causing it to become inflamed and thicker, for unknown reasons.  Psoriasis affects an estimated 7.4 million Americans.  Despite extensive and ongoing research, we still have no idea exactly what the initial trigger is.  That said, however, we are daily learning so much more about the cellular and molecular pathways that drive psoriasis, which has led to our current ‘golden age’ of new treatments for psoriasis.

Although they are not mutually exclusive and much overlap exists, there are overall 5 main types of psoriasis:

What Causes Psoriasis?

As noted, psoriasis is the result of the body’s immune system acting abnormally to attack the skin.  This attack essentially results in skin cells being produced much faster than normal and are unable to undergo the natural skin shedding process, which results in skin continually building up thicker and thicker.  Additionally, these same immune system cells produce inflammatory chemicals that cause redness and tenderness.  However, while we now understand much about these processes, we still don’t know what exactly triggers psoriasis, and this remains THE big question researchers are still searching to solve.  That said, however, there are certain factors we believe play key roles in the development of psoriasis.  Some of these include:

Treatments

While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many treatments of various types that can help to manage it.  In general, the goal of most all psoriasis treatments is to calm down the immune system and inflammation that is the driving force resulting in the abnormal skin.  A detailed discussion of treatments is beyond the scope of this article, however the main categories of treatments are listed below:

Recently a definite link has been established between other health problems (e.g. obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease) and onset or worsening of psoriasis.  Additionally, stress of all types makes psoriasis flare or more difficult to control.  Controlling these conditions and improving overall health can not only improve psoriasis, it could even cause it to go into remission. 

Psoriasis Care in Lake Worth, Texas

If you have psoriasis and want an experienced dermatologist to help you take control of the condition, make an appointment with Dr. Matthew A. Mittelbronn at Lakeview Dermatology. He will not only diagnose and treat your psoriasis, but will also guide you on how you can live most comfortably with your condition. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Mittelbronn, please call our office at (817) 752-5256 or use our convenient online request form.

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