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Causes of psoriasis
Although the exact cause of psoriasis is yet to be found, researchers believe a combination of genetic, environmental and immune factors may be involved.
In terms of genetics, there are many different psoriasis risk genes, and they all play a part in the odds of developing the condition. If someone in your family has psoriasis, you’re more likely to develop it. For instance, if one of your siblings has psoriasis, your risk for developing it is 4 to 6 x greater than that of the general public.1
Researchers believe that for a person to develop psoriasis, that person must have a combination of the genes that cause psoriasis and be exposed to specific external factors known as “triggers.” Psoriasis triggers vary – what may cause one person’s psoriasis to become active, may not affect another. Common triggers include infections (e.g., strep throat), reaction to medications (e.g., antimalarials, beta-blockers, lithium) and injury (sunburns, scratches).
White blood cells (called T-helper lymphocytes) become overactive, producing excess amounts of cytokines (proteins important in cell signalling). In turn, these chemicals trigger inflammation in the skin and other organs.
Similarly, with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), although its precise causes are not yet clear, researchers believe that genetics and environmental factors play a large role. If there is a family history of PsA or psoriasis, it is more likely that one will develop the condition. PsA is autoimmune in nature, meaning the body mistakenly attacks its own joints. This attack is believed to stem from changes in the environment in a genetically susceptible host.
CPN hears from many people who, like Sharon, ask if psoriasis is hereditary. Often, we hear from parents who have concerns about passing psoriasis onto their kids because of the genetic factors. CPN’s founder, Andrew Gosse, talks about his own concerns and how he’s reassured by current treatments and the options that people have today:
- Papp., K.A., & Lass, J. (2011). The Canadian guide to psoriasis. John Wiiley & sons Canada, Ltd 2011
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