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What Causes Inverse Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is the most common immune-mediated disorder in the country, and while it primarily affects the skin, it is much more than a cosmetic disease. Psoriasis has an immense impact on your everyday health and quality of life. It can influence your self-image and mental health, not to mention that about 30 percent of psoriasis cases also develop into psoriatic arthritis, which affects your own mobility.

Psoriasis comes in different forms, including inverse psoriasis. Let’s take a closer look at inverse psoriasis and determine what causes it.

What is Inverse Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that is characterized by scaly, dry lesions (often referred to as plaques) that are often itchy, painful, and uncomfortable. Plaque psoriasis, the most common form of psoriasis, can affect just about any part of your skin, though it tends to appear on the elbows, knees, and scalp.

Inverse psoriasis, also known as intertriginous psoriasis, specifically appears within skin folds throughout the body, including the armpits, behind the knees, around the genital area, and under the breasts. The location of these lesions is important and contributes to the way that inverse psoriasis looks. These skinfold areas are naturally prone to more sweat and friction. The combination of moisture, warmth, and physical rubbing results in lesions that appear red, smooth, and shiny. These skin lesions can be itchy and dry and may crack and bleed. Those with inverse psoriasis may also experience plaque psoriasis in other parts of the body.

As lesions occur in areas of the body where the skin is naturally thin and sensitive, inverse psoriasis can easily result in a bacterial, yeast, or fungal infection.

What Causes Inverse Psoriasis?

Inverse psoriasis, like other types of psoriasis, is an immune-mediated disease. Normally, your immune system exists to protect your body from infection and eliminate outside bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other potentially harmful microbes. However, in some cases, the immune system can malfunction and begin to attack cells in the body that are perfectly healthy. This can cause chronic inflammation and a wide range of other problems.

With psoriasis, the immune system attacks healthy skin cells. This speeds up the life cycle of the cells, forcing them to grow rapidly before previous skin cells have the chance to shed. This results in skin growing in layers, which develops into the scaly patches and lesions characteristic of psoriasis.

Researchers still are not sure what specifically causes this immune system malfunction. We do know that psoriasis is not contagious, meaning it is not something that you can catch or spread. Studies also point to genetics as a major role in psoriasis. If a parent has psoriasis, there is a 10 percent chance that their children will develop psoriasis. If both parents have psoriasis, that chance goes up to 50 percent. However, there’s no real way to predict when someone will develop psoriasis. This is made even more confusing based on the nature of the disease. Psoriasis often comes in cycles that start with several weeks or months wherein symptoms flare up followed by a period when symptoms subside or go into complete remission.

What Causes Inverse Psoriasis to Flare-Up?

Inverse psoriasis symptoms and flare-ups are often caused by personal and environmental triggers. These triggers can also worsen existing psoriasis symptoms. Triggers can vary from person to person, but some of the most common triggers include:

  • Severe stress – Stress can cause a release of chemicals that impact your already overactive immune system, resulting in a flare-up.
  • Injury to the skin – Areas where skin has been damaged or subjected to physical trauma can result in the appearance of psoriasis lesions. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon and can occur after scratches, sunburns, bug bites, and vaccinations.
  • Infections – Any infection that affects the immune system can trigger an inverse psoriasis flare-up. This is most common with strep throat, which has been associated with guttate psoriasis.
  • Medication – Certain medications, including lithium, quinidine, and some high blood pressure medications, may trigger psoriasis flare-ups.

Smoking and heavy alcohol usage may also trigger psoriasis flare-ups.

Although the specific cause of inverse psoriasis is unknown, there are a variety of treatments available for psoriasis sufferers that aim to regulate your immune response and manage your symptoms. Talk to a doctor to determine the most effective treatment plan. Most importantly, take the time to consider your own needs to maintain your physical and emotional comfort and wellbeing.