What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a medical condition which is caused by long-term autoimmunity, thereby bringing changes in the skin. This disorder is characterized by the presence if a reddish and scaly rash or patches commonly found over the surfaces of the scalp, around or in the ears, the elbows, knees, navel, genitals and buttocks. These plaques are also known as psoriatic plaques and are areas of inflammation and excessive skin production. The skin may build up in the affected area and may take on a silvery-white appearance. Psoriatic lesions are commonly found on the extensor aspect of a joint.
The lesions of psoriasis may vary and may either appear as minor localized patches or as generalized lesions that affect the whole body. Joints may have inflammation such as what happens in psoriatic arthritis which affects approximately 10% to 15% of all psoriasis patients.
The cause of psoriasis is unknown yet experts say that there may be a genetic component that can be triggered by a prolonged injury to the skin. Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, mental stress, and withdrawal of systemic corticosteroid medications may aggravate psoriasis.
We know that the surface of skin has a high cell turnover rate which takes place at a cycle that lasts between 21 and 28 days. In patients with psoriasis, the cycle takes only between 2 to 6 days; this causes a rapid cell buildup that forms red, flaky, scaly, crusty patches covered with silvery scales, which are then shed.
There are several types of psoriasis: plaque psoriasis, flexural psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, erythrodermic psoriasis and nail psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris) affects majority of people who have psoriasis; this is the most common type. In this type, there are raised areas of inflamed skin covered with silvery white scaly skin called plaques. There are also scales which present as a flaky white build up of dead skin cells that accumulate on the plaques. This commonly affects certain areas of the body such as the knees, scalp, trunk, nails and elbows and appears as pain and cracking of the skin.
Flexural psoriasis (inverse psoriasis) is a type of psoriasis occurring in skin folds or flexion creases especially in the armpits, genitals, pannus (under the stomach of an overweight person), under the breasts (inframammary fold) and buttocks. These areas become as smooth, dry areas of skin that are inflamed and red, without the scaling which is common with plaque psoriasis. This type is common in obese or overweight individuals because they have more skin folds which are susceptible to irritation from sweating and rubbing. Individuals with flexural psoriasis are susceptible to fungal infections.
Guttate psoriasis is a type of psoriasis which is linked to streptococcal throat infection. Pustular psoriasis is characterozed by pustules which are tender and red. Psoriatic arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the skin, joints and connective tissues. Erythrodermic psoriasis is a rare form of arthritis which is marked by widespread inflammation and exfoliation (shedding) of the skin. Nail psoriasis is characterized by nail discoloration, pitting, lines and nail thickening.
Psoriasis Can Be Improved by Protein Stimulation
A recent study has shown that the severity of inflammation associated with psoriasis is unexpectedly suppressed by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a protein that senses environmental toxins. The study is published in the journal Immunity which is published by Cell Press.
In this study, the researchers have found out that triggering of AhR in skin cells with a compound derived from a chemical reaction to UV light exposure reduced inflammation in skin biopsies from psoriasis patients, whereas preventing activation of the AhR protein increased inflammation. They also found out that AhR in skin cells, but not immune cells, is important in responding to the trigger to dampen inflammation. The findings suggest that stimulation of AhR could improve symptoms and may represent a novel strategy for treating chronic inflammatory skin disorders.
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