ZocdocAnswersWhat causes psoriasis?

Question

What causes psoriasis?

My doctor says my skin problems are psoriasis and now we're dealing with treating it. My question though, is what causes it in the first place? He said it was auto-immune but I don't know what that means.

Answer

Psoriasis is indeed an auto immune condition. What this means is that the body's own immune system develops a reaction to certain molecules found in the skin and begins to attach the skin itself. The exact trigger that causes this auto immune reaction to develop is not clear, however there is a strong genetic component that creates a tendency in certain people to develop psoriasis. Psoriasis may sometimes also be triggered by an infection, most commonly a strep throat infection. Fortunately, there are multiple effective treatments for psoriasis, and your doctor will work with you to figure out what these are. In cases in which the psoriasis is not very severe and just limited to the skin, often topical steroid creams are all that is needed. In cases in which the involvement of the skin is more severe, sometimes oral immune suppressing medications or light therapy are needed, and in this case usually a dermatologist will get involved in your care. Sometimes, psoriasis may also attack the joints, leading to stiffness and arthritis symptoms. In this case, oral immune suppressing medications are usually used, and this is most often done under the direction and expertise of a joint doctor, or rheumatologist. Please talk with your doctor.

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