Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis
The signs and symptoms of Psoriasis can differ from one person to another, but will generally tend to include one or more of the following:
- Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning or soreness
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Psoriatic arthritis causing swollen and stiff joints
Most types of Psoriasis go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time or even going into complete remission. In most cases, however, the disease is chronic and lifelong.
Causes of Psoriasis
Psoriasis occurs when the immune system is triggered causing excessive growth of skin cells in particular areas. A normal skin cell matures and falls off the body in 28 to 30 days. A skin cell in a patient with Psoriasis takes only 3 to 4 days to mature and instead of falling off (shedding), the cells pile up on the surface of the skin, forming Psoriasic lesions.
Scientific research has established that for a person to develop Psoriasis, the individual must have a combination of the genes that cause Psoriasis and be exposed to specific external factors known as “triggers.” Specific sites on the chromosomes found in human cells called markers have been identified as being associated with the emergence of Psoriasis as a condition. These genes can be inherited directly from a parent or can be the result of a combination of different genes inherited from both parents.
Known environmental triggers for Psoriasis are infections such as strep throat and thrush, stress, cold weather, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption. Injury to the skin, such as a cut or scrape, severe sunburn can also trigger a psoriatic lesion to develop. Some medications, including lithium, high blood pressure medications like beta-blockers, and anti-malarial drugs are believed to be able to bring on Psoriasis.