Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes red, scaly, and sometimes itchy patches. There is no known cure for psoriasis. It’s a chronic condition that may come and go throughout someone’s lifetime. However, treatment and lifestyle changes may reduce the symptoms and even send it into remission.
Let’s look at some facts about psoriasis causes, symptoms, and possible solutions.
Psoriasis Causes: What We Know
The exact cause of psoriasis isn’t known. But according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, at least 10 percent of the population inherit genes that could lead to the development of psoriasis. These genes may alter how certain immune system cells act.
Only about 2-3 percent of people actually develop the condition, and it’s probably from a combination of genes and triggers.
We do know psoriasis causes faster-than-normal skin cell growth. The extra cells build up on the skin, creating the red and scaly patches. Treatment involves slowing down growth.
Common Psoriasis Symptoms
Psoriasis can look differently per person. Some common signs of the condition include:
- Red skin patches, sometimes covered by thick, scaly patches called plaques.
- Itchy, sore, or burning skin.
- Dry skin that can crack or bleed.
- Pitting or discoloration on the fingernails or toenails.
- Red and scaling on the scalp.
- Achy, swollen joints.
What Triggers Psoriasis?
“Triggers” are factors that make psoriasis symptoms worse, and just like symptoms, triggers can vary from person to person. Some common triggers may be:
- Infections like strep throat or respiratory infections
- Skin injuries like scratches or sunburns
- Food allergies, sensitivities, or an unhealthy diet
- Cold temperatures
- Other autoimmune diseases
- Certain medications
You can keep track of triggers by noting what happened or changed right before each psoriasis flare-up. For most people, psoriasis goes through cycles where symptoms go away for a while and come back. Reducing triggers and caring for your immune health may help improve symptoms.
How to Reduce Psoriasis Causes and Symptoms
You can’t alter the genes that contribute to psoriasis, but certain procedures can help control flare-ups. Doctors may prescribe oral, topical, or injected medications for symptom control. Other than medical treatment, the following methods may provide relief.
Also known as phototherapy, light therapy involves exposure to natural or artificial light. Several sessions per week may help reduce symptoms.
Avoiding Trauma to the Skin
In some people, psoriasis is triggered by injury or trauma to the skin. Taking good care of your skin can help reduce triggers.
Practice sun safety by wearing hats, clothing, and sunscreen to prevent sunburns outside. Protect your skin when working out, playing sports, or doing other activities to reduce cuts or wounds.
Obviously, no one can avoid ever getting sick. However, infections are common psoriasis triggers and good hygiene helps. Reduce your chances of sickness by:
- Washing your hands often.
- Keeping any injuries clean and covered.
- Avoiding eating or drinking after others.
- Boosting your immune system with supplements and a good diet.
Stress tends to be a trigger with many autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis. Inflammation has been linked with emotional stress. You may be able to improve symptoms by adding more calm into your life.
Practicing yoga or meditation, doing more things you enjoy, talking with a therapist or friend, exercising more, and finding ways to work less are all good stress-reducing practices.
Eating a Well-Balanced Diet (and Avoiding Triggers)
A healthy lifestyle includes eating well. Plus, being overweight may make psoriasis symptoms worse. Support your body’s healing potential by:
- Eating more whole, high-fiber foods.
- Getting enough healthy carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- Avoiding common allergens like gluten, wheat, soy, fish, or dairy if they trigger symptoms.
- Cutting out sugars and processed foods.
The Bottom Line
The above tips can help support your immune system, which is good for everyone but especially important for those with autoimmune conditions like psoriasis. Healthy lifestyle changes may help reduce symptoms while also improving your overall health.