Yes, psoriasis is considered an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune conditions, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own cells, leading to inflammation and other symptoms.
In the case of psoriasis, the immune system targets the skin cells, causing an overproduction of new skin cells. This rapid turnover of skin cells results in the formation of thick, red, and scaly patches on the skin.
The exact cause of psoriasis is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Specific immune system issues that contribute to psoriasis include:
T cells (T lymphocytes): These are a type of white blood cell that plays a central role in the immune response. In psoriasis, T cells are activated and mistakenly attack healthy skin cells.
Cytokines: These are proteins that play a role in cell signaling and inflammation. In psoriasis, there is an abnormal production of cytokines, particularly tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukins, which contribute to the inflammatory process.
Genetic factors: There is a strong genetic component to psoriasis, and certain gene variations are associated with an increased risk of developing the condition. However, having these genetic factors does not guarantee that an individual will develop psoriasis.
Environmental triggers: Factors such as stress, infections (particularly streptococcal infections), and certain medications can trigger or exacerbate psoriasis in individuals who are genetically predisposed to the condition.