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Psoriasis: Causes, Triggers & Types

In support of Psoriasis Action Month, let’s discuss the potential causes, types and diagnostics for this chronic, autoimmune disease.

What causes psoriasis?

There are several factors linked to psoriasis, including genetics, the immune system and the environment. Significant research is underway. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, scientists believe that at least 10 percent of people inherit one or more of the genes that could eventually lead to psoriasis with only 2-3 percent of the population developing the disease. That’s where environment comes into play. If someone is set up genetically and faces external factors, called “triggers,” that person could develop psoriasis.

What are potential psoriasis triggers?

Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, psoriasis systems surface when the body’s immune system begins to over actively work to protect the skin from the outside world, causing inflammation internally and externally.
Some psoriasis triggers are:

• Stress
• Skin injuries, like shaving, bruising, sunburn, chafing or scratches
• Certain medications, including beta blockers (high blood pressure), anti-malarial drugs, lithium and others
• Hormones fluctuations
• Infections, like strep throat
• Dry weather, like Colorado
• Drinking alcohol/Smoking

Are there different types of psoriasis?

Yes. There are five types of psoriasis:
Plaque – The most common form of psoriasis, typically forming raised red scaly patches on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back.
Guttate – Most common in younger patients, usually appears as small raised red dots or patches on the body, often caused by an infection.
Inverse – Typically appearing as large, red scaly patches, usually found in the folds of skin, including behind the knee, underarms, groin area and under the breasts.
Pustular – Typically appears as white blisters surrounded by red patches.
Erythrodermic – The most severe, inflammatory form of psoriasis, often affecting the whole body. It can be extremely painful and itchy with skin shedding off in sheets.

Next, we’ll learn about diagnostics, treatments and more.

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