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Psoriasis- Here’s why this skin disease is difficult to treat

Psoriasis is difficult to treat because some T cells remain behind despite current treatments. This was the finding of a new study published in the Journal of Clinical investigation.

According to the senior author, Dr Rachel Clark of the department of dermatology, “when psoriasis is treated, T cells that flooded in during inflammation recede like the tide.” “They leave behind a population of cells that stand out.”

The T cells are part of the body’s immune system permanently stationed in the skin to fight off infection.

“We believe these resident memory T cells are the root of the problem. Imagine these cells are teenagers throwing a party. They invite lots of other cells to the site of the party, making it hard to identify them while the party is in full swing. It’s only after inflammation dies down and everyone else goes home that we can see these culprits,” said Clark. “A small number of cells can cause so much trouble. But depleting this population of cells may be the key to slowing down this disease or preventing its recurrence.”


More information about Psoriasis

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that occurs when the body’s defenders become hyperactive, leading to swelling and rapid turnover of skin cells. In psoriasis, new skin cells are produced prematurely (within 3-4 days instead of 30 days) leading to accumulation at the surface. This appears as skin lesions that are red, scaly and itchy. The skin lesions show up on the scalp, hands and feet, genitals and skin folds.

How common is the skin condition?

According to some sources, it affects up to 125 million persons worldwide. In the United States alone, up to 8 million persons suffer from this condition. Although, the skin condition is less common in dark skinned individuals, there have been reports that the occurrence is increasing. In Nigerian study  of patients attending a skin clinic, Psoriasis was found in one out of 100 patients. It was slightly commoner in men, those in there 40’s and triggered by stress, alcohol, and medications.

What causes psoriasis?

No one knows the exact cause. However, genetics and the immune system play a role. Therefore, you are likely to get it if someone in the family has the skin condition.

Certain health conditions are more likely to occur with psoriasis. These include:

  • Psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes joint pain and swelling.
  • Cardiovascular problems, which affect the heart and blood circulation system.
  • Obesity.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes.

Is there a cure for psoriasis?

Unfortunately there is no cure. However, scientist are actively looking for one. That is why a better understanding of why it is difficult to treat offers hope to millions of persons that currently have this skin condition worldwide.  There are different types of psoriasis. In one of the most serious forms, scaly lesions appear throughout the body. You should see your doctor immediately, if you have this type of psoriasis.

How is psoriasis treated?

Mild to forms of psoriasis respond well to common topical treatments such as:

  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Coal tar which is available as creams and soaps
  • Salicylic acid
  • Moisturizing creams  which reduce itching when applied immediately after bath
  • Some of these topical treatments cause skin irritation too.
  • Alternative forms of treatment include bathing  of Epsom salts, aloe vera creams and fish oil supplements.

Doctors may also recommend light therapy which may be mild (brief exposure to sunlight) or intense such as phototherapy.

Hopefully, this improved understanding of psoriasis would help researchers to find better solutions to this chronic skin condition.

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