Even though I have had Psoriasis for about ten years I still sometimes find it hard to explain exactly what it is. There still seems to be some debate among the medical profession as to what causes it and whether it is a disease, infection or something else. My personal opinion is that it’s just a condition, maybe it’s genetic. So here’s my attempt at defining it.
I found a medical dictionary on line which defines Psoriasis as a chronic, non-contagious disease characterized by inflamed lesions covered with silvery-white scabs f dead skin. One point to highlight here, “non-contagious”, remember that, you can’t catch it off me. As far as looking at the condition on my skin, that about sums it up. But it doesn’t really tell you what it is. The word itself, Psoriasis, comes from the Greek word psōra, meaning “itch”. I’ve only just discovered that and a more fitting name couldn’t be found cause whatever your severity of psoriasis, it does blooming well itch.
One thing most people seem to agree on is that the condition stems from overactive T Cells. The T cells are the cells that grow your skin, basically what is happening is that your skin is growing too fast. To give you an idea how fast, normal healthy skin cells mature in 21-28 days which, once it is on the surface of your skin, will shed invisibly. I’m sure most of you know that our skin sheds every day without us even noticing. With psoriasis, this process is only taking 4-7 days. Now think, one cell takes up to 28 days to reach the surface, my cells are only taking 4-7, which means that live cells are accumulating with dead cells and as they’re not ready to shed, they just pile up. Bit like a bottle neck on the motorway I guess.
To add to this, your skin needs blood to live so the more skin that grows, the more blood that is being pumped to you skin. This adds to the raised areas and can cause redness in the affected area and I think is sometimes the reason my body temperature increases. If you think when you get a cut or get a knock, the area generally feels warmer as the blood rushes to repair the damage. In my mind it’s logical to think that it’s the same with psoriasis.
The T Cell is an immune cell and for this reason it is thought that psoriasis is an auto-immune deficiency, an auto-immune disease or immune-mediated condition. I really don’t like that word disease, but it keeps cropping up. Because of this connection to the immune system, people often think that psoriasis sufferers must be generally unwell, get lots of colds and bugs. I get no more colds than I used to before I had psoriasis and I think that this is a bit of a myth though I know some would disagree.
The one thing that a doctor said to me, which I haven’t seen on a website, is about why the skin is so flaky and dry. Your skin needs to stay moisturised and your body does this naturally to a certain extent by the water in your system. I have been told by a couple consultants that the body cannot cope with moisturising the extra skin which adds to the issue of dryness and flaking. They were quite clear saying it’s not the reason the skin dries so much but must be a contributing factor. You can see the sense in that, if one litre of water fits in one sponge and you get a second sponge, one of those is going to be dry unless you add more water. (Hope you’re enjoying my analogies).
I could go into this more as there is so much information out there. This is just my opinion of the condition I have, my understanding from the documents I’ve read and advise I’ve been given by dermatologists. There may be inaccuracies in this so anyone reading and wanting to rant at me saying I’m wrong, don’t’ rant, just explain your theory. I have done my best to explain, to define psoriasis but it is important to remember that psoriasis does not define me.
For more information on the condition I recommend the following sites:
Also you should consult your dermatologist, I am not and will never claim to be an expert.