Psoriasis is a chronic dermatological condition characterized by the rapid buildup of skin cells. It is an autoimmune disease with vaguely understood pathophysiology and no curative treatment.
The severity of symptoms varies greatly from one patient to another. Additionally, episodic flare-ups occur in a group of patients, causing some serious symptoms. The prevalence of psoriasis is extremely high, with one study reporting that 7.4 million Americans are affected.
Normally, skin cells grow in the deeper layers of the skin and then gradually surface until they fall off. This process takes around one month in healthy individuals. However, in patients who have psoriasis, the entire process takes a few days, preventing the cells from naturally falling off. As a result, patients present with a buildup of skin cells all over their bodies, with some areas being more predilected than others. There are many other types of psoriasis that affect the nails, mouth, and genitalia; however, they are relatively rare.
Causes of Psoriasis
Like all other autoimmune diseases, psoriasis’ pathophysiology is not fully understood; however, the cause of this disease is believed to be a combination of nature and nurture. The nature part is the genetic predisposition of patients. In other words, if you have a family member with psoriasis, your risk of getting the disease is much higher than the general population. The nurture part might be an environmental factor that triggers the already-predisposed immune system to launch an immune reaction against skin cells. This could be a viral infection, a toxin, or even a food element. Unfortunately, psoriasis has no cure, and all the available therapeutic modalities aim to reduce inflammation and scales. These include topical corticosteroids, anthralin, methotrexate, and cyclosporine.
Is psoriasis hereditary?
As we mentioned earlier, the exact causes and transmission routes of psoriasis are not well-established. Nevertheless, people often ask this question: is psoriasis hereditary? Before we answer this question, we must understand what we mean by hereditary. In genetics, a hereditary disease can be transmitted in several patterns, including:
• Autosomal recessive
• Autosomal dominant
• X-linked recessive
• X-linked dominant
These modes of transmission describe how a genetic disease is passed on from one generation to another. What all of these modes have in common is the fact that there is a genetic mutation in the chromosomes. The only difference is whether that mutation is transmitted in a recessive manner (both parents must have the mutation to be passed on) or in a dominant manner (one parent can pass on the mutation to the offspring). Now that we understand how hereditary diseases (e.g. sickle cell anemia, Tay Sachs disease) are transmitted, does psoriasis follow a similar pattern? The answer is no. Although individuals who have a family member with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing this condition, scientists have not been able to identify a genetic mutation.
Psoriasis is a chronic medical condition that may reduce the quality of life of affected patients. It could also present with systemic clinical manifestations, such as psoriatic arthritis and reactive depression. To come up with a curative treatment for this disease, we need to conduct more studies and clinical trials.
Read more about psoriasis here: https://itsitchy.com/10-facts-about-psoriasis/
Written by Zac Hyde M.D.