Main triggers of psoriasis

Eczema, itching, and scaly skin are clear symptoms that something is wrong with our skin. Psoriasis is a skin disease that affects millions of people around the world, although it is not contagious between humans.

This disease cannot transmit the skin condition from one person to another. Touching a psoriatic lesion on another person will not cause us to develop the condition, but it is convenient to know more about this type of atopic problem.

What is psoriasis?

Although some think that its appearance is random, the truth is that it is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the rapid accumulation of skin cells, causing peeling on the surface of the skin. Inflammation and redness around the scales is quite common. These typical psoriatic conditions are silvery-white and develop in thick red patches. Sometimes these patches crack and bleed, especially when we have very dry skin or we scratch.

Psoriasis is the result of an accelerated skin production process. Usually, skin cells grow deep into the skin and slowly rise to the surface. They eventually fall off, although the typical life cycle of a skin cell is one month.

In people with this disease, the production process can occur in just a few days. As a consequence, skin cells do not have time to shed. This rapid overproduction leads to the accumulation of skin cells. Scales typically develop in the joints, such as the elbows and knees. Although they can also develop in other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, neck, scalp and face. The less common types of psoriasis affect the nails, the mouth, and the area around the genitals.

Most common types

This skin disease has many different types. A specialist must assess the cases in depth to determine the best treatment for this type of psoriasis. Here we reveal the most common examples:

  • On plates . Plaque psoriasis is the most common type. Experts estimate that around 80 percent of people with the condition have this type. It causes red, inflamed patches that cover areas of the skin. These patches are usually covered with silvery-whitish scales or plaques. Plaques are found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.
  • Guttata. This is common in childhood and causes small pink spots. The most common sites for guttate psoriasis include the torso, arms, and legs. These spots are seldom thick or raised like the plaque type.
  • Pustular. It is more common in adults. It causes pus-filled white blisters and large areas of red, inflamed skin. This type is typically localized to smaller areas of the body, such as the hands or feet, but it can be widespread.
  • Inverse. In this case, bright areas of red, shiny and inflamed skin are formed. Inverse psoriasis patches develop under the armpits or breasts, in the groin, or around the skin folds of the genitals.
  • Erythrodermic. This is a very rare and serious type of psoriasis. It usually covers large sections of the body at once and the skin appears sunburned. The scales that develop are shed in large sections or leaves. It is not uncommon for a person with this type of psoriasis to have a fever or become seriously ill. It is a type that can be life-threatening, so people should see an emergency medical specialist.

mujer con psoriasis en el brazo

Why does it appear? Causes and factors

It is not yet too obvious what the causes of psoriasis appear. However, thanks to research we are clear that there are two key factors: genetics and the immune system.

Immune system

This is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune conditions mean that the body attacks itself. In psoriasis, white blood cells, known as T cells, mistakenly attack skin cells.

In a normal body, white blood cells are used to attack and destroy invading bacteria and fight infection. This erroneous attack causes the skin cell production process to accelerate. Accelerated skin cell production causes new skin cells to develop too quickly. They push themselves to the surface of the skin, where they pile up. This results in the accumulation of plaques that are associated with psoriasis. Attacks on skin cells also cause red and inflamed areas of skin to develop.


Some people inherit genes that make them more likely to develop this disease. If you have a direct relative with the skin condition, your risk of developing psoriasis is higher. However, the percentage of people who suffer from this disease and have a genetic predisposition is small. Only 2 to 3 percent of people with the gene develop the disease, although it is still part of the factors that cause it.

Other triggers

There are external agents that can start a new outbreak of psoriasis. These triggers are not the same for everyone. They can also change over time. The most common triggers include:

  • Stress. Unusually high stress can trigger an outbreak. If you learn to reduce and control it, you can improve and possibly prevent flare-ups.
  • Alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption can trigger psoriasis flare-ups. If you consume alcohol in excess, the flare-ups can be more frequent. That’s why cutting down on alcohol is smart for more than just skin, too.
  • Injury. An accident, cut, or scratch can cause an outbreak. Injections, vaccinations, and sunburn can also trigger it.
  • Medicines. Some medications are considered triggers for the disease. Some examples are lithium, antimalarial drugs, or high blood pressure medication.
  • Infection. Psoriasis is caused mostly by the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy skin cells. If you are sick, the immune system will ramp up to fight the infection. This could start another psoriasis outbreak.

Most common symptoms of psoriasis

The signs of appearance differ from one person to another and depend on the type that is suffered. Areas of psoriasis can be as small as a few flakes on the scalp or elbow, or cover most of the body. Not all people will experience all symptoms, and some will even have completely different ones if they have a less common type.

Most people with this disease go through cycles of symptoms. The condition can cause severe symptoms for a few days or weeks, and then they can go away and be almost unnoticeable. In the event that it is made worse by a common psoriasis trigger, the condition may return within a few days. Sometimes, although rare, the symptoms disappear completely. However, that does not mean that psoriasis will not return, just for now it does not show symptoms.

The most common symptoms of plaque psoriasis are:

  • Red, raised, and inflamed patches of skin
  • Silvery-whitish scales or plaques on red spots
  • Dry skin that can crack and bleed
  • Pain around wounds
  • Itching and burning sensation
  • Thick and pitted nails
  • Painful and swollen joints

mujer con psoriasis en la espalda

Treatments to reduce symptoms

Unfortunately, psoriasis has no cure. The treatments proposed by specialist doctors are aimed at reducing inflammation and scales, slowing the growth of skin cells and eliminating plaques. Most people with moderate to severe psoriasis will benefit from combining several treatments. And while some people may use the same treatment for their entire lives, others may need to change treatments occasionally if their skin stops responding to what they are using.

Topical treatments for psoriasis

Creams and ointments applied directly to the skin can be helpful in reducing mild to moderate psoriasis. The best known topical treatments are topical corticosteroids, topical retinoids, anthralin (a medicine to slow the production of skin cells), vitamin D analogs, salicylic acid, and moisturizers.

Medications and light therapy

People with moderate to severe psoriasis and those who have not responded well to other types of treatment may need oral or injected medications. Many of these drugs have serious side effects, and doctors often prescribe them for short periods of time. The best known are methotrexate, cyclosporine (Sandimmune), biologics, and retinoids.

Light therapy is a treatment that uses ultraviolet or natural light. Sunlight kills overactive white blood cells that attack healthy skin cells and cause rapid cell growth. Both UVA and UVB light can help reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate psoriasis.