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Study Reveals Molecular Changes for Skin Discoloration in Psoriasis

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Skin Discoloration

The characteristic skin discolorations in psoriasis can cause embarrassment to the sufferer. A recent study reveals the deeper root cause of skin pigmentation in psoriasis, thus paving the way for more research and discovery of drugs and skin treatments that can alleviate this skin problem.


Psoriasis is a skin problem which is also considered as a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the skin. It is not contagious nor is it passed from person to person. Psoriasis is usually found in the skin of the scalp, around the ears, in the elbows, genitals, knees, navel and buttocks. It may give rise to a characteristic scaly patch known as psoriatic patch that can occur as a result of inflammation and desquamation. It is also associated with a reddish and scaly patch that is found in the areas previously mentioned. It may later on take a silvery white appearance. Psoriasis is different from eczema in that it is more commonly found on the extensor aspect of the joint.

While psoriasis may have minor localized patches only in some patients, in others it may manifest as lesions which may be located all over the body. One common manifestation is psoriatic nail dystrophy which is common”a manifestation in which the fingers and toenails are affected. Psoriasis may also cause inflammation of the joints and psoriatic arthritis.

The cause of psoriasis is not usually known however many experts believe that there may be a genetic component which may be triggered by skin injury. Other triggers include excessive alcohol intake, stress, smoking withdrawal of steroids and other factors. People who are usually affected belong to the ages 11 to 45 years old group. However, it can also start at any age. It is considered a chronic or a long-lasting condition.

There are several types of psoriasis: plaque, flexural, guttate, pustular, psoriatric arthritis, erythrodermic psoriasis and nail psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis appear as raised areas of inflammation on the skin which may have silvery white scales. Flexural psoriasis occurs in skin folds such as armpits, genitals, under the stomach, under the breasts and buttocks. Guttate psoriasis is characterized by red scaly patches on the skin all over the body especially in the scalp, limbs and trunk. Psoriatic arthritis involves the inflammation of the skin and the connective tissues and joints, such as the finger and toes joints and also the knees and hips. Erythrodermic psoriasis is a type of psoriasis which manifests as widespread inflammation and exfoliation of the skin of the surface. Nail psoriasis manifests as discoloration of the nail plate, nail pitting, nail lines and skin thickening under the nail. The signs and symptoms of psoriasis depend on the type of psoriases. It may appear as raised and inflamed red lesions with silvery scales, as yellow-red nail discoloration, widespread lesions in the scalp, chest, arms and legs, or as bright red smooth skin patches with no sliver scales.

Skin Discoloration in Psoriasis

Psoriasis, along with its other skin manifestations, may give rise to painful and itchy rashes which may subside as time goes by yet may leave dark discoloured skin areas which serve as scars. A new study has attempted to explain this discoloration. Scientists from the Milstein Medical Research Program at The Rockefeller University have uncovered the molecular basis of skin discoloration in psoriasis, which may suggest new treatments for pigmentations in psoriasis, acne and eczema. In this study, the researchers found out that IL-17 and TNF cytokines were disturbing pigment production of melanocytes in the skin of patients with psoriasis. In people with psoriasis there is decreased gene expression of skin cells and decreased expression of genes involved with pigmentation signalling when compared to increased amounts of IL-17 and TNF. These two cytokines were also found to promote formation of melanocyte clusters so that growth-promoting cytokines are produced. Psoriatic lesions also contained more melanocytes along with high levels of IL-17 and TNF than healthy skin.

If you want to know more about psoriasis, feel free to explore our other articles on this site.