Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the rapid buildup of skin cells. This buildup of cells causes scaling on the skin’s surface which may occur in just a few days. Because of this, skin cells don’t have time to fall off. Sometimes, these patches of red and white scaly skin will develop thick lesions which can be itchy, sore, crack and bleed.
Scales typically develop on joints, such as elbows and knees. Less common types of psoriasis affect the nails, the mouth, and the area around genitals. Its thought that around 7.4 million Americans have psoriasis. It’s commonly associated with several other conditions, including:
- type 2 diabetes
- inflammatory bowel disease
- heart disease
- psoriatic arthritis
Doctors are unclear as to what causes psoriasis. However, thanks to decades of research, they have a general idea of two key factors: genetics and the immune system.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune conditions are the result of the body attacking itself. In the case of psoriasis, white blood cells known as T cells mistakenly attack the skin cells.
In a typical body, white blood cells are deployed to attack and destroy invading bacteria and fight infections. This mistaken attack causes the skin cell production process to go into overdrive. The sped-up skin cell production causes new skin cells to develop too quickly. They are pushed to the skin’s surface, where they pile up.
This results in the plaques that are most commonly associated with psoriasis. The attacks on the skin cells also cause red, inflamed areas of skin to develop.
Some people inherit genes that make them more likely to develop psoriasis. If you have an immediate family member with the skin condition, your risk for developing psoriasis is higher. However, the percentage of people who have psoriasis and a genetic predisposition is small. Approximately 2 to 3 percent of people with the gene develop the condition, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).
Psoriasis isn’t contagious. You can’t pass the skin condition from one person to another. Touching a psoriatic lesion on another person won’t cause you to develop the condition. The results of a 2003 survey conducted by a program called “Beyond Psoriasis: The Person Behind the Patient,” reinforces why psoriasis education is so important. Low self-confidence was reported in 73 percent of people with severe psoriasis and 48 percent of people with moderate psoriasis.
While there’s no cure for psoriasis, there are treatments that can help. Excimer laser therapy is one type of treatment that helps get rid of the red patches by exposing them to targeted ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. The brand name of this treatment is XTRAC excimer laser, and we are thrilled to be able to bring this new treatment to our patients. Call Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center today at 330-425-7600 or set up an appointment online by clicking here. You can discuss this procedure with Dr. Monique S. Cohn, DO FAOCD and find out what you can expect from this new treatment.