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Understanding Psoriasis

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If you've been diagnosed with psoriasis or just suspect that you have it, you may be wondering what causes this irritating skin condition. Strangely, psoriasis is caused by a common thing that everyone's body does but that is going haywire and not happening correctly. This guide will explain what should be happening to your skin and what psoriasis is causing to happen instead, as well as what you can expect from treatment for the condition.

How Skin Cells Work

The skin is the body's biggest organ, as well as its shield from outside contaminants like bacteria and dirt. As a result, the body generates new skin cells extremely quickly to replace dead and shedding skin cells. Ordinarily, the body takes care of this without you even needing to think about it. In fact, some people lament that their skin cells don't renew as quickly as they age, resorting to exfoliating to quicken the process. Unfortunately, this process can also operate incorrectly, which is the culprit behind psoriasis.

How Psoriasis Works

Unfortunately, doctors and scientists don't know what the exact trigger is behind psoriasis, but they do know what goes wrong in the body. At its core, all psoriasis is is an over-production of new skin cells. Psoriasis can cause skin cells to develop at ten times the rate of standard skin cells, which might sound like a good thing, except that it causes lots of problems.

Although the new skin cells are developed at a faster pace, the old skin cells aren't yet ready to let go. Instead of the new skin cells replacing them, the new skin cells effectively stack on top of the old ones, creating the iconic scales and patches that psoriasis is known for. This is also why psoriasis itches so much, as when the old skin cells are ready to fall off, they're already covered by a stack of new skin cells that are adhered and won't allow the old skin cells to loosen.


For now, doctors don't know of a way to tell the body to stop creating excessive amounts of new skin cells at such a rapid pace. However, there are a variety of treatments that can help to slow the process down a bit.

These treatments vary in strength, ranging from over-the-counter salicylic acid, which can speed up the release of old skin cells, to prescription medications that are typically used in chemotherapy. Your treatment will depend upon how bad your psoriasis is, how much of the body it covers, and how well you respond to the milder treatment options.

The best thing you can do if you have psoriasis or think you might have it is to visit a dermatologist or other doctor, such as Henry D. McKinney M.D., as soon as possible. Controlling the symptoms of psoriasis is possible, and the sooner you start, the more you can slow its progression.