Red spots that exfoliate at elbows and knees, persistent dandruff in your hair, exfoliating or calloused skin on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. These are the symptoms of psoriasis. An autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack cytokines. These little proteins are present in skin, joints, the liver, the adipose tissue and the arterial endothelium that envelops the inner surface of blood vessels.

As Professor Antonio Costanzo, Supervisor of Dermatology at Humanitas, explained in a recent interview, “This reaction of our immune defenses only happens in genetically predisposed people. Nowadays we know at least 36 genes that increase the risk of developing this disease. This inflammatory reaction affects the skin, that reacts with the overgrowth of keratin-producing cells, thus originating the visible effect. The Plaques are red because they are inflamed”.

What are the causes of Psoriasis?

Hereditariness is one of the main causes. If a patient with psoriasis has a son or daughter, they will be more likely to have it as well. Environmental factors are also important, such as the interaction with some medications, emotively stressful situations, or traumas.

How is the diagnosis done?

Given the fact that the symptoms are very specific, dermatologists generally can produce a diagnosis during a single specialistic visit. In some cases, where the psoriasis is in an early stage or simply unclear, a skin biopsy may be useful.

What is the cure for Psoriasis?

“We were able to pinpoint the key molecules in the development of psoriasis, thus creating medications that only block these molecules like, TNF, interleukin 17 and interleukin 23. We administrate antibodies against these cytokines that make psoriasis’s symptoms regress. The therapy can be repeated when the plaques return.

The patients’ life conditions get sensibly better. This treatment is possible at home without assistance and the skin gets freed from the visible symptoms of the disease. This is definitely better than traditional medications, that are systemic immunosuppressants that affect the whole immune system and sometimes with severe side effects”, Prof. Costanzo pointed out.