Psoriatic arthritis affects some people who have a skin condition known as psoriasis – in which red areas of skin (like lesions) are covered with silver scales. Most individuals develop psoriasis before being later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. However, in some cases, the arthritis may precede the skin condition. Psoriatic arthritis develops when a person’s immune system goes into overdrive and begins attacking healthy cells and tissue rather than just “bad” cells such as infections and allergens. This type of activity by the immune system is abnormal and causes both inflammation in the body’s joints and an overgrowth of skin cells.
While scientists are not entirely sure why a body’s immune system begins attacking healthy tissue, they have determined that it is likely both environmental and genetic factors are good indicators of whether an individual will develop psoriatic arthritis. Those with this type of arthritis often have a family history of it. Studies have also indicated that certain genetic markers appear to be linked with psoriatic arthritis.
Risk factors for developing psoriatic arthritis include the following: having psoriasis; age (a person can develop the disease at any age, but most often occurs in adults between the ages of 30 and 50); and a family history of both psoriatic arthritis and/or psoriasis. Additionally, certain physical trauma or a viral or bacterial infection may trigger the development of psoriatic arthritis in some people.