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Is Psoriasis Hereditary? All You Need To Know

Psoriasis is an uncommon skin disorder that presents itself with symptoms that include inflammation, itchy scales and redness. This skin condition develops when certain circumstances accelerate the life cycle of the skin cells. As a result, extra skin cells build up at a rapid pace on its surface, and the aforementioned symptoms come into existence. However, what circumstances are those? While the scientists have been pondering over this question, they might have found an answer to the most important one among them-Is Psoriasis Hereditary?

Through the course of this article, our goal is to try to demystify the answer to this query. Additionally, we are going to look into the trigger factors associated with this disease. Consequently, we are also going to tell you about the current treatment and the treatments that are yet to come.

Psoriasis: An Autoimmune Disorder

Before we dive into the titular query of the topic, let us take a look into what exactly psoriasis is. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is a condition where the immune system starts to attack the healthy cells of the body mistakenly. There are many types of such disorders. Every one of them is defined by the type of cells that the immune system attacks. In the case of psoriasis, it is the skin cells that are on the receiving end of such attacks. As a result of the disorder, the skin cells overproduce. Considering there is no new surface on the skin, the extra cells push out the old cells to take their place. This causes the skin to have a scaly texture in combination with itching, and inflammation.

The Role Of Genetics In Psoriasis

The lack of a proper discernable reason behind the disease motivated the scientists to look into the genetic factors. Genetics play a major role in the development of everyone’s immune system. Therefore, there has been researching in the matter of what type of gene may be the cause of a faulty immune system.

The new researches have been able to identify about 25 different gene variants that can cause the development of Psoriasis. A team of researchers, led by Dr J.T Elder have been able to identify several areas where more than one genome contributes towards causing psoriasis and related disorders.

Considering the gene development can be entropic, there have been certain types of genomes that have been attributed to a certain type of psoriasis.

Dr Wilson Lao, a scientist from the University of California, has been instrumental in finding some rare “trigger genes” that increase the risk of psoriasis in certain individuals.

Additionally, after 20 years of scrutinising the disorder under a literal microscope, scientists have come up with a particular mutation called the CARD14 mutation.This discovery is the result of scrutinising the DNA samples of a large family with many of its members who have Psoriasis. The researchers found that CARD14 mutation can be a contributing factor plaque psoriasis and pustular psoriasis.

The root of this research was to find out if the hereditary reasons can cause this disease. Well, CARD14, while is a mutation, is not exclusively an inherent one.

However, it is not to say that hereditary factors can be shoved aside. There have been other studies in this factor. These studies have suggested that if an individual has even one parent with psoriasis, there is an increased risk that the individual will develop the same condition. How prevalent are those risks? Well, if you have to put a percentage on it,

  1. There is a 10% risk of a child encountering this disease if one of their parents suffer from the same.
  2. The risk of psoriasis escalates to 50% if both the parents are suffering from this disorder.
  3. If any of the siblings have this disease, then as compared to the general population, the likelihood of another sibling developing this disease is 4 to 6 times higher.

That being said, the disease being hereditary is just one side of the matter. This matter of genetic mutation about psoriasis is a lot more comprehensive. Therefore, there are further researches to be done in this field.

This was a succinct look into the genetic research of this disease and some statements that can lead to the answer of the titular query. However, with psoriasis, it is also important to know the that environmental triggers should also be held responsible for its onset.

Psoriasis: The Environmental Triggers

Following are the environmental triggers that can flare up the autoimmune skin condition:

  1. Infections: Strep throat and skin infections can cause the Onset of psoriasis
  2. Skin injury: The site of injury can suffer from a sudden psoriasis flare up as well.
  3. Stress: Stress is a contributing factor to many diseases, and psoriasis is no exception.
  4. Smoking: This is one reason that can act as a trigger and a risk factor as well. Inhaling harmful chemicals automatically activates the immune depending on how a body handles smoking, this can either cause some discomfort or psoriasis.
  5. Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol consumption has also been attributed to be the contributing factor to many diseases. However, in certain cases, they might also cause an autoimmune skin condition.
  6. Drugs: Drugs like lithium, antimalarials and beta blockers have also been to trigger the mutation that causes the titular condition.
  7. Withdrawal of corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex of vertebrae. That being said, its synthetic variants are also available to deal with different types of allergies and some diseases. Dependency on this hormone can lead to withdrawal symptoms, and one of them can be psoriasis.

Consequences of Psoriasis

Till now, we have delved into the genetic matters associated with Psoriasis and its trigger factors. But now, we are going to take a look at the health issues whose incidence can increase if the individual has Psoriasis. These are as follows:

  1. Crohn’s Disease: Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD refers to a category of diseases that can inflame the digestive tract.
  2. Heart disease: As Psoriasis is rooted in autoimmune, there have been incidences where it directly affected the body’s circulation. Consequently, it affects the heart too.
  3. Lymphoma: Lymphoma is a form of haematological disorder where the lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells produced by lymph nodes) are abnormal. Psoriasis is also caused the issue of T cells and neutrophils (both are types of white blood cell). It is not far-fetched to think that Psoriasis can have a negative impact on lymph
  4. Type 2 diabetes: A most common form of diabetes where the body is not able to use the insulin in a way that it should.
  5. Metabolic diseases: Although one can manage Metabolic diseases at an early stage through nutritional management, its root cause lies in a geno-type of a person. There is an instance where a person with psoriasis is more likely to develop metabolic diseases.
  6. Depression: One of the social consequences of Psoriasis is the social stigma associated with it. As a result, depression becomes quite a common after effect.

Current Treatments

Current treatment of Psoriasis has taken three forms:

  1. Topical Treatments: For the cases of mild to moderate Psoriasis, application of mild topical ointments is effective. These ointments include:
    1. Synthetic Vitamin D
    2. Topical Corticosteroids
    3. Moisturisers
    4. Coal tar
    5. Calcineurin Inhibitors
  2. Photo Treatment:Photo treatments use controlled exposure natural or ultraviolet light to the Psoriatic skin
    1. Sunlight
    2. UVB Therapy
    3. PUVA
  3. Medicative treatment: The above two forms of treatment are suitable for mild to moderate intensity of psoriasis. However, if the case is severe, we need to delve into conventional forms of treatment that make the use of oral or injected medications.
    1. Retinoids
    2. Immune system altering drugs
    3. Cyclosporine
    4. Methotrexate

These treatments, although effective in their might, need an administration that can last very long and can have some long or short-term side effects. Therefore, many treatment seekers are inclining towards alternative medicine.

  1. Orange Grape: Topical application of this fruit can reduce inflammation and ease the symptoms associated with Psoriasis.
  2. Fish Oil: The omega 3 Fatty acids in the fish oil can reduce inflammation and other symptoms of the Psoriasis.
  3. Aloe Vera: It is the most conventional form of alternative medicine. The ointment and cream products that are derived from this fauna are also helpful.

Future treatments

One can consider the 20 years of research that went into finding out about the CD14 gene mutation as a Rosetta stone. This discovery and many before that focused on finding out about the  hereditary nature of Psoriasis have motivated scientists to look into targeted therapy. In this therapy, the target will be the abnormal proteins of the immune system. Additionally, scientists are making more advances for topical treatments as well.

Is Psoriasis Hereditary? Well, it is the quest of its answer that led to many developments to treat this disease, but the answer is yet to be found with 100% surety.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.