Psoriasis is considered to be an auto-immune condition in which the immune cells of the body mistakenly attack the body’s own skin cells. This triggers an abnormal response, resulting in a rapid growth of cells, which leads to thickened skin and excessive shedding of scales.
The triggers of auto-immunity are not well understood. However, auto-immunity tends to run in families, and a genetic background has been verified in many cases. There may be a family history of some kind of auto-immune disease, though not necessarily psoriasis.
Stress, infections, cold weather, friction and injuries to the skin are known to precipitate as well as aggravate psoriasis.
The common areas affected by psoriasis are the lower back, knees, elbows, ankles, hands, feet and scalp. Psoriasis can vary in intensity from mild to extremely debilitating cases. The disease can progress to affect other areas of the body, apart from those mentioned above. It can also spread to the nails and joints. In several cases, there are phases when the symptoms worsen (relapse) and periods when the condition is spontaneously resolved (remission).
About 1 to 2% of the general population is affected by psoriasis, and it is increasingly becoming common. The incidence is higher amongst young adults, though it can strike at any age. Psoriasis can affect both sexes. Many psoriasis sufferers go through depression, anxiety, social isolation, unemployment, marital impairment and sexual impairment. There have been cases of psoriasis sufferers with suicidal tendencies due to the social stigma associated with the condition.
Psoriasis is not infectious; it cannot be passed from one person to another through physical contact.
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