Itchy Nightmare: What Causes Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an ailment in which your skin turns into a hyperactive cell-producing factory, creating new cells at about five times the normal rate. This production over-achievement causes dead skin cells to pile on top of new ones in itchy, scaly, red patches. The disease is not contagious but extremely irritating to those afflicted. While scientists have not been able to pin the exact cause of psoriasis, they have a few good guesses. Here’s a hint: it has something to do with the immune system.
Haywire Immune System
According to WebMD, about 10 people in 100 have the right genetic makeup to get psoriasis, though only two or three ever actually do. At the genetic level of our DNA, tiny instruction carriers called genes get their wires crossed and, rather than protecting you from dangerous infections and injuries, sends the message out that turns skin cell production into hyperdrive. Why does this happen? As noted, researchers can’t say for sure, but it seems that there are about 25 genes that differ in people with psoriasis. Some combination of these genes is the one that creates a perfect genetics blueprint.
Your Leaking Gut
Some doctors still ascribe to the so-called “Leaky Gut Theory” as an alternative cause of psoriasis. Initially promulgated in the early 20th century by Edgar Cayce, a famous psychic known as the Sleeping Prophet, there seems to be at least some sort of connection between this syndrome and the occurrence of psoriasis.
Cayce described leaky gut to be exactly what you imagine. He claimed that thin intestinal walls allowed food-borne toxins to escape into the bloodstream before they could be properly disposed of by the digestive process. These toxins wander the body, sometimes manifesting themselves as the familiar skin lesions known as psoriasis.
Those who believe a leaky gut could be the cause of psoriasis also think that a strictly controlled diet, free of sugar, additives, and preservatives, could bring the disease under control. In an interesting side-note, the “gut” is the largest and least understood organ in the immune system, so it’s not inconceivable that the psoriatic process could be just as Cayce hypothesized.
A certain percentage of medical professionals admit that sometimes psoriasis seems to be brought on by environmental culprits. The following occurrences have been blamed: stress, injury to skin, infection, and certain medications. Any of these factors could create the right conditions to accidentally turn on the genes that start the skin overproduction process. Think of it like this. Anything that places an extra burden could be the disease trigger.
Psoriasis and the Comorbid Connection
Adding insult to injury, psoriasis is one of those diseases that sometimes appears in conjunction with another like psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and depression. The important thing to keep in mind is that your doctor be aware of all conditions and figure out a treatment plan that takes everything into account.
To repeat what has already been said but is very important to remember when it comes to psoriasis: it’s not contagious! It’s one of the more frustrating diseases around because doctors have not been able to come up with a medication or pin a “for sure” cause on it. For those interested, some of the latest generation of biologic drugs, like Remicade, have been shown to improve the skin lesions greatly in some cases. This are serious drugs that can sometimes have serious side effects. If you think you might be interested, talk to a rheumatologist. Diet may offer some relief and could certainly offer improvement towards your general health, if nothing else.