Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition affecting approximately 2% of the population. It is known of as a familial condition and the cause has a genetic component. Unfortunately a more specific explanation of the cause is yet to be established although progress is being made.
Exposure to specific triggers
People who are genetically predisposed develop the disease when they are exposed to a specific trigger. These triggers may include emotional stress, injury or trauma to the skin, certain infections, or a reaction to medication. The key factor is that a person must be predisposed to psoriasis to develop the condition. It is determining who is predisposed and why that makes finding the ultimate cure so difficult.
In an effort to understand more about who gets the condition and who does not, and what role genes play in determining this, researchers have been studying families of people with psoriasis for many years now.
Some of their findings include:
- If you have a brother or sister with psoriasis and both parents with the disease you have a 50% risk of eventually developing psoriasis yourself.
- If you have a sibling and only one parent with psoriasis your risk of developing the disease drops to 16% and the risk drops further to 8% if neither parent has the disease.
- If one member of a set of twins develops psoriasis there is a 20% chance the other twin will also develop psoriasis if they are fraternal twins and a 70% chance if they are identical twins.
Genes play a major part in developing psoriasis
These studies show that genes do play a major part in developing psoriasis and the more genes you share with someone with psoriasis the more likely you are to develop the disease yourself.
Why is it then that not everyone in a family will develop psoriasis despite sharing the same gene pool?
The answer is simple yet complex. There are up to a dozen genes playing a role in developing psoriasis and it depends on what combination of these genes you inherit how susceptible you are to developing the disease. One gene in particular – psoriasis susceptibility 1 (PSORS1) – is responsible for up to 50% of all psoriasis cases.
Researchers are continually isolating new genes linked to psoriasis taking us closer to an ultimate cure to the condition. However it is still important that they also continue to study the triggers of psoriasis as it is controlling these triggers that provide the most effective form of treatment for psoriasis in the immediate future.
Let’s hope that in the not too distant future a more thorough understanding of the genes involved in developing psoriasis are understood so that more effective treatments and an ultimate cure can eventually be found.