Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that appears on the skin. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. Currently affecting approximately 7.5 million people in the U.S, 80% of those affected will present with plaque psoriasis, whereas the other 20% will have a more complicated form.
Regardless of which type of psoriasis you have, psoriasis should always be diagnosed and evaluated by a physician or other qualified medical professional.
Who Gets Psoriasis?
A survey from the journal Dermatologica demonstrates the average age for a first psoriasis attack is 27.8 years old. Approximately 36% of those surveyed said there was a family history of the skin disorder.
Most of the time, psoriasis manifested in the lower limbs, but the next common place was the scalp. Many of the patients saw improvement in hot weather and sunlight, and one-third of the women saw their condition improve during pregnancy.
Other surveys have shown that many patients feel psoriasis can have a profound effect on their well being, affecting not only their body, but also their emotions and ability to socialize with others comfortably (JAMA Dermatology).
What Causes Psoriasis?
Recent research suggests that psoriasis is actually an autoimmune disorder.
There are two kinds of blood cells that seek out and destroy foreign cells: B cells and T cells. In psoriasis, the T cells function abnormally.
This causes several effects in the body, one of which is to produce both white blood cells and healthy skin cells at a rapid rate (American Academy of Family Physicians, Mayo Clinic). This causes skin cells that would ordinarily rise to the surface in months to rise to the surface in a matter of a few days. The dead skin cannot be sloughed off fast enough, causing thick, reddened, and itchy skin.
Psoriasis can be triggered by viral or bacterial infections, injury, medication, too much or too little sunlight, alcohol consumption, cold weather, and stress. Weight gain has also been shown to increase psoriasis in two studies that followed patients over a several year period (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Journal Watch Dermatology).
How to Treat Psoriasis
The first step to maintaining healthy skin with psoriasis is keeping skin moisturized and with a source of amino acids. The amino acid composition is not only decreased in psoratic skin, but is also changed as well (Journal of Investigative Dermatology). Supplementation with amino acids may help some of the adverse side effects of drying and cracking that can come along with the disorder.
Over-the-counter ingredients that can be helpful for psoriasis include the amino acids glycine and methionine. In one study, these amino acids were injected into the lesions of patients with psoriasis, as well as into the clinically unaffected skin between the lesions. The transit time of both amino acids was greatly increased in the lesions, and there was a significant loss in amino acids when lesions were appearing (Archives of Dermatology). Treating plaques with amino acids may help to supplement the loss of amino acids within the lesions.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder caused by an imbalance of T cells in the skin. One of the symptoms is a loss of amino acids and a change in amino acid composition in plaques, suggesting that supplementing the skin with topical amino acids may help to provide some relief.