Psoriasis and Your Immune System

The ultimate player in the psoriasis game is the immune system. Think of the immune system as a community of individuals - cells. Each cell has a specific job such as detecting an infection, carrying debris for identification or destruction or killing abnormal cells. Cells communicate with one another by direct contact or by signals - cell cytokines. Cytokines are specializing substances which can flow through tissue and the blood stream. Cytokines relay messages to cells resulting in specific activation or deactivation of cell activity. Hormones and the nervous system can have some impact on the immune system. With such a complex system, multiple cells and multiple organs all interconnected, it is easy to see that the immune system is more like an ocean with different waves of activity in different parts of the body and with very different cells and signals moving about.

The immune system will determine whether a person gets psoriasis which persists for weeks, months, or years. The immune system will determine whether a person gets Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and maybe diabetes, hypertension, and coronary arterial disease. The immune system is a big part of many of the diseases which can affect all of us, especially inflammatory diseases like psoriasis. The moment we appreciate that psoriasis is instigated and perpetuated by the immune system the causes, the treatments, and maybe possible cures are explained.

Our first case study involves a patient of Dr. Kim Papp's named Jane. As a child Jane fell off her bicycle while learning to ride. She scraped her knee, not a bad scrape but it hurt. Her body immediately activated the healing process to heal the skin and the immune system to ward off any potential infection.

Jane's immune system responded normally, just like everyone else but Jane has genes that redirect her immune response. In her case the immune system, activated by the injury, initiated psoriasis where she scraped her skin. Jane's psoriasis slowly spread to other areas of her body but it is now controlled by cream.

Paul, like Jane, developed psoriasis after an injury. In Paul's case, he was an adult who injured his arm at work. The psoriasis developed in the skin weeks after healing and spread rapidly. Creams were unable to control Paul's psoriasis; however, he is now taking a new injection which is controlling his psoriasis well.