Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition marked by abnormal patches of thick, red and scaly skin. This chronic condition affects the immune system which changes the life cycle of skin cells. At present, around 7.5 million Americans are affected with this disease.
A fact worth mentioning is that psoriasis also has significant economic impact on the country. According to a study published by JAMA Dermatology, direct costs in the US related to this autoimmune disease reach $63 billion a year, while indirect costs, such as loss of working hours, are estimated at $35 billion. Other $35 billion are spent on related health issues, including heart diseases and depression. Everything summed up, the annual costs associated with psoriasis equaled $112 billion in the US in 2013.
Psoriasis is not only a topical skin condition
As mentioned earlier, psoriasis is an autoimmune condition although there’s still common misconception that’s it’s only a skin condition. Psoriasis is linked to improper function of T cells, a type of white blood cells, which attack healthy skin cells by mistake.
When T cells become hyperactive, they trigger a number of immune responses, all of which speed up the development of skin cells, making them accumulate on the outer skin layer within several days rather than weeks, as they normally do.
This accelerated process of skin cell growth prevents the normal elimination of dead skin cells, which start accumulating as well forming thick patches — the most prominent sign of psoriasis. 60% of people affected with psoriasis are at an increased risk of many other skin problems.
To start with, the affected skin becomes so inflamed that it begins to crack and bleed. Often, psoriasis turns into psoriatic arthritis, which damages joint. People suffering from psoriasis are at a higher risk of other chronic diseases, including vision problems, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases.
Psychological distress is also an issue. There’s general misconception that psoriasis is an infectious rash, which is why many people suffering from thus condition are often avoided and socially excluded. This in turn leads to depression, socially isolation, low self-esteem, and problems at work.
Vitamin D is essential for all autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis
Having your vitamin D level tested is crucial when dealing with this skin condition. In fact, your vitamin D levels should always range between 50-70 ng/ml throughout the year. As this vitamin is a powerful immune modulator, it plays critical role in the prevention of autoimmune diseases.
Research reveals that “vitamin D could have important immunomodulatory effects in psoriasis.” However, 80% of psoriasis patients showed vitamin D deficiency in winter, and 50% of the patients in summer.
Vitamin D can help treatment of psoriasis on several levels. First, it keeps keratinocyte growth and differentiation under control. Next, it affects the immune function of the T lymphocytes and other cells in the body. This vitamin stops cytotoxic T cells and controls skin cell growth. Last, but not least, vitamin D byproducts are commonly used in topical treatments of psoriasis. Phototherapy is also an effective treatment.