Healthy skin cells gradually divide and migrate to the top layer of skin, replacing old cells. In psoriasis, however, skin growth is accelerated; skin cells multiply too quickly and, instead of being shed from the skin’s surface, accumulate in thick patches. The plaques of raised pink skin typically occur in small areas on the scalp, elbows, knees, or lower back. The rash is not contagious and is typically not painful or very itchy.
About 15% of psoriasis sufferers have a widespread rash that interferes with daily activities. Debilitating joint pain and inflammation, similar to arthritis symptoms, affect at least 5% of people with the disorder. Psoriasis is chronic and commonly emerges between the ages of 10 and 30, affecting men and women equally.
What Causes It?
Experts are unsure of the exact cause of psoriasis, but they suspect a number of factors, including an inherited predisposition. The condition tends to run in families, particularly among fair-skinned people, and several genetic determi?nants have been discovered that make some people more susceptible.
Evidence is accumulating that many of the steps leading to the condition originate from an overzealous immune response-an army of infection-fighting cells invades healthy skin tissue, triggering inflammation. Researchers believe there may be a genetic basis for this immune reaction, and they have found an unusually high number of immune cells in psoriasis plaques. Emotional stress and certain drugs, such as ibuprofen, may precipitate psoriasis flare-ups. Additional triggers include poor diet, skin injuries, sunburn, hormones, illness, alcohol, and cold dry weather.
How Foods May Help
Although research on how nutrition can help this complex skin dis?order has not yielded a wealth of information, what we do know is that an overall healthy diet that emphasizes antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables is beneficial for general skin health, as the antioxi?dants neutralize harmful elements that could damage skin. Foods high in vitamin C have antioxidant properties that protect against free-radical damage to the skin caused by environmental toxins.
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