Coping With Misinformation and Stigma
Psoriasis is a skin disorder characterized by patches of red skin and silvery scales. These patches are generally found on the elbows, knees, face, feet, and low back, but they can also affect other parts of the body, including the mouth and fingernails.
The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported in 2014 that 7.4 million American adults had psoriasis. The most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, affecting 80 – 90 percent of people with psoriasis.
Red and silver patches on the skin, pain and irritation characterize plaque psoriasis. Scratching may lead to bleeding, infection and broken skin.
Who Gets Psoriasis?
The causes of psoriasis are unknown, but genetics and the immune system play a part. Your skin cells with psoriasis grow quicker than normal and cause a build-up of skin lesions.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), men and women are equally affected by psoriasis. Family history and genetics play a role.
Psoriasis often develops between the ages of 15 and 35, but anyone can get it any age, including children. And children have a higher risk of developing psoriasis if one or both parents have it, this according to the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance.
Other risk factors include viral and bacterial infections, stress, smoking and being overweight.
Psoriasis symptoms may appear on the skin, but the condition is actually an autoimmune disease. As an autoimmune condition, T-cells (white cells that generally fight off bacteria and viruses) become rogue and attack healthy because they mistake them for unhealthy ones.
Your T-cells are trying to heal wounds that don’t exist. As a result, the body starts to produce more skin too quickly which build up as patches because there isn’t any opportunity to shed old skin.
Scientists have no explanation at this time why your immune system malfunctions and triggers psoriasis. Some environmental factors may be to blame for your psoriasis triggers, including stress, cold weather, infection, skin injuries, sunburn, alcohol consumption, and medications.
But once you have psoriasis, it is a lifetime condition and the best way to manage it is with medication and other treatments.