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Psoriasis links with common chemicals found

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Health problem. Closeup young woman scratching her itchy back with allergy rash

Psoriasis has been linked to environmental chemicals such as dioxins, and prescription drugs; these may act directly or via the microbiome.

The disease is a non-contagious skin disease that causes itchy, red patches and even silvery-white scales to appear on the skin. Historically, psoriasis was thought to be an autoimmune disease, with inflammation causing skin reactions leading to Eczema and Psoriasis.

In 2014, researchers from Kings College and the National Institute for Medical Research in London (1) showed that environmental stimuli could contribute to psoriasis and other ‘autoimmune diseases’ through the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). AhR is a transcription factor that senses environmental stimuli, and AhR antagonists increase inflammation in the skin.

Inflammation and ‘auto immune reactions occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body, causing skin cells to grow and die at a very high rate, accumulating into plaques.

The new study (published in Immunity), has suggested that the origins may be chemical toxins. The researchers showed that certain environmental chemicals, especially Dioxins, can affect the AhR – aryl hydrocarbon receptor molecule found in both skin and immune cells causing it to manufacture inflammatory proteins.

Psoriasis expert, Dr. Gary Goldenberg, an assistant professor of dermatology and pathology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, acknowledged that Psoriasis is strongly influenced by environmental causes when interviewed.

A 2021 review of research (2) on psoriasis stated that it could be induced not just by environmental toxins but by several other environmental factors including infection, alcohol consumption, drugs, trauma, acute withdrawal of systemic or potent topical steroids, heightened body mass index and endocrine disorders.

Prescription drugs have been shown to be linked to psoriasis. For example, Beta blockers, interferons, anti-malaria drugs (chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine), ACE inhibitors and the anti-fungal Terbinafine.

You should also not come off your treatment corticosteroid abruptly. That can cause a flare-up.

Chemical compounds in the environment may also have negative effects on gut bacteria causing the loss  of the good bacteria allowing pathogens to come to the fore and produce metabolites that can cause the same skin problems. We have a research article on how the gut-skin axis is linked to an immune reaction and psoriasis.

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References

  1. Activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor dampens the severity of inflammatory skin conditions; Paola Di Meglio et al, Immunity, 2014 Jun 19;40(6):989-1001.
  2. Infection-provoked psoriasis: Induced or aggravated (Review); Yan Teng et al; Exp Ther Med. 2021 Jun; 21(6): 567.