What is psoriasis?

What is psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition, which manifests as scaly red skin patches.  It is a chronic disease and belongs to a group of papulosquamous skin disorders. The disease cannot be cured completely, but if treated correctly, can be managed well.

Like some other skin diseases, psoriasis was first described by Greek physician Hippocrates in “Corpus Hippocraticum”. Hippocrates, who is often called the father of medicine, used words “lepra” and “psora” to describe the condition, which is now thought to be psoriasis.

Unlike fungus, which sometimes can mimic psoriatic rash, this skin condition is noncontagious. It means that you cannot get psoriasis from someone else already suffering from this disease. Psoriasis is caused by specific alterations in your immune system work, not by some infectious agent.

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Typical rash of psoriasis develop because of very rapid skin cell cycle. The cell cycle of a damaged keratinocyte (which is the basic skin cell) becomes considerably shorter. While normally healthy skin renews every 28 days, in case of psoriasis, it takes only 5-6 days. Piles of dead keratinocytes accumulate on skin surface and form the scale.

It is hard to determine the exact causative mechanisms of the illness. To some extent, psoriasis is thought to be genetic disease that is triggered by environmental factors. There are 25 psoriasis genes, but not all people possessing those genes will develop the condition. When one of the parents has this disease, there is 8% probability that their child will develop psoriasis as well. When both parents are affected by this illness, the probability increases up to 41%.

Among other skin conditions, psoriasis is most similar to eczema, which is also an autoimmune and chronic skin disease that manifests as red and itchy skin patches. Both conditions are treated in similar ways.