Kat Wetjen

What is it?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that causes cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick, white, silvery or red patches of skin.

Normal Cell Development

When a basal cell divides, it produces two cells. One remains in the basal layer and keeps dividing. The other moves out of the basal layer and can't divide anymore. This helps regulates the number of dividing cells and the number of cells in the outer layer.

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What Causes Psoriasis?

We all have white blood cell called T lymphocyte (T cell) in our blood. These cells are part of the immune system. Psoriasis causes a person's T cells to mistakenly attack healthy skin, triggering the body's immune system to react as it would to a wound or infection and sends more blood to the area to make skin cells and white blood cells.

In psoriasis, activated T cells end up in the skin.

Normally, our skin cells grow gradually and flake off about every 4 weeks. New skin cells grow to replace the outer layer of the skin as they shed. With psoriasis this process is sped up and skin cells rise to the surface in a few days instead of a month. The skin cells build up and form patches called plaques.

It isn't entirely clear what causes the T cells to malfunction but researchers think think genetic and environmental factors both play a role.

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  • Range from mild to severe
  • Red patches of skin can have silvery scales on them (raised)
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • Itching, soreness, or burning feeling in affected areas
  • Thick fingernails that have indents or "pits", change color, separate from nail bed
  • Joints become swollen, tender and painful (psoriatic arthritis)

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T-cells --> dermis---> skin ---> integument ---> whole body

Risk Factors

Anyone can get psoriasis but these risk factors may increase your risk of the skin disease:

  • Family history (40% of people with psoriasis have family member with the disease)
  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

How Do You Diagnose Psoriasis?

  • Physical exam and medical history- Doctor will look and your medical history and examine your skin, scalp and nails.

  • Skin Biopsy- Doctor may take small sample of skin that will be examined under a microscope to determine the exact type of psoriasis.

Treatment Options

Psoriasis is incurable but there treatments aim to:

  • Interrupt the cycle that causes an increased production of skin cells
  • Remove scales and smooth the skin

Each person will not have same effects from treatment

  • Topical
-Creams, ointments, and lotion

  • Phototherapy (light therapy)

-Ultraviolet A or Ultraviolet B

  • Systemic Medications
-Pills or injected medications

  • Home remedies

-Herbs, vitamins, certain diets, stress reduction


Psoriasis is a chronic illness. The prognosis is usually good. Although it is currently not treatment, there are ways to control it. You can still live a normal life. About 400 people die from complications caused by psoriasis each year. The skin plays a vital role in regulating body temperature and acting as a barrier to infections. When a person has psoriasis it can lead to secondary infections.


  • Impact of acute (sudden) and chronic (ongoing) stress in relevant to the immune system


  • Tropical- sprays, foams, shampoos, gels
  • Phototherapy- narrow-band ultraviolet B (UVB)

Research Advances

  • Polygenic disorder
  • HLA-C and 1q21 loci
  • Results show psoriasis susceptibility
  • Allow identification of potential interactions

  • Use DNA from members of a family with psoriasis to look at chromosome mapping
  • Identified a heterozygous mutation in the CARD14 gene
  • Indicated that genetic background and/or environmental factors may be involved