What exactly is psoriasis of the liver? This is a complication caused by many liver diseases where the liver takes on an abnormal structure and malfunctions. The diseases injure then destroy liver cells after which inflammation and the healing process causes scar tissue to form. The liver cells then quickly multiply to replace the dead cells and this results in a clutter of newly formed cells within the scar tissue. There are many causes of liver cirrhosis and these include viruses, chemicals, toxic metals and autoimmune liver disease.
Why does liver psoriasis cause problems?
Nobody can deny that the liver is a very important organ in the body as it performs many critical functions. In order to perform these functions, all the liver cells must be working properly and they must have a great relationship with the blood. In liver psoriasis, this relationship is destroyed. Even though the newly formed liver cells are able to do their work well, they don’t have an intimate relationship with the blood. This interferes with the liver’s overall ability to remove substances from the blood.
In addition, the scarring obstructs blood flow through the liver and it then “backs-up” in the portal vein. [note]This increases pressure in the vein causing portal hypertension. [/note]Since the blood is obstructed from flowing through the liver, it seeks alternative routes and bypasses it. The liver can’t add or remove substances from blood that doesn’t go through it and this leads to many of the manifestations of psoriasis.
Signs and symptoms of psoriasis of the liver
Patients with liver psoriasis may have few or no symptoms at all. Some of the symptoms may not point to the liver at all. Some of the common symptoms include;
- Loss of appetite
- Easy bruising due to the decrease in production of blood clotting factors
- Yellowing of the skin due to accumulation of bilirubin in the blood
Cases of liver psoriasis
Alcohol is a common cause of liver psoriasis. Its development depends on the amount of alcohol a person takes. High levels of alcohol consumption damages the liver cells and a huge number of people who drink alcohol excessively develop liver cirrhosis.
Chronic viral hepatitis occurs when hepatitis B or C infects the liver for a very long time. [note]Most patients with hepatitis A usually recover within a few weeks without developing a chronic infection. [/note]On the othe4r hand, most patients with hepatitis B and hepatitis C go on to develop chronic hepatitis which causes progressive liver damage which causes psoriasis.
Cryptogenic cirrhosis is a very common cause of liver transplants. It is known as cryptogenic cirrhosis since doctors haven’t been able to figure out why only a small portion of patients develop liver psoriasis. It is now believed that the psoriasis occurs due to long standing obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Genetic disorders that result in the accumulation of toxic substances in the liver also cause psoriasis of the liver. An exam0ple of one such disease is the Wilson’s disease. In Wilson’s disease, the body retains too much copper which then accumulates in the eyes, liver and brain. If not treated early, neurological difficulties, psoriasis and psychiatric disturbances occur. Treatment is normally done though oral medication which increases the copper elimination from the body through the urine.
In hemochromatosis, the patients inherit a tendency to absorb an excessive amount of iron from the food they eat. [note]This iron accumulation with time causes psoriasis, testicular dysfunction, arthritis and heart muscle damage which may lead to heart failure. [/note]The main aim of treatment is to prevent damage to the organs by removing iron from the body through bloodletting.
Autoimmune hepatitis is another liver disease cause by an abnormality in the immune system. Commonly found in women, it causes progressive inflammation and destroys the liver cells ultimately leading to cirrhosis.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is caused also caused by an abnormality in the immune system. This causes chronic inflammation and destruction of the small bile ducts that are found within the liver. These bile ducts are the passages within the liver where the bile travels to the intestine. [note]The bile is produced by the liver and it contains various substances required for digestion and absorption of fat in the intestine. [/note]Together with the gallbladder, bile ducts make up the biliary tract.
The destruction of bile ducts blocks the normal flow of bile into the intestine. As the inflammation continues to destroy more bile ducts, it spreads and destroys the nearby liver cells. With more destruction, fibrosis forms and spreads and this ultimately culminates in cirrhosis.
An uncommon liver disease is primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) which is found in people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In primary sclerosing cholangitis, the bile ducts found outside the liver become inflamed, narrowed and then obstructed. This obstruction to the flow of bile leads to infections in the jaundice and bile ducts which eventually cause cirrhosis.
Biliary atresia (infants being born without bile ducts) eventually go on to develop liver psoriasis. Some babies are born without the vital enzymes used to control sugars and this leads to the accumulation of sugars and liver psoriasis.
One less common cause of psoriasis includes unusual reactions to some types of drugs as well as prolonged exposure to toxins. It may also be brought about by chronic heart failure or cardiac cirrhosis. In other parts of the world, particularly in North Africa, liver infection caused by the schistosomiasis parasite is a common cause of liver disease and psoriasis.
Treating psoriasis of the liver involves;
- Preventing any further damage from occurring in the liver
- Treating the complications that arise from the psoriasis
- Early detection and prevention
- In extreme cases a liver transplant may be required
Any form of treatment has to be prescribed by a qualified medical doctor. The liver is not only important when it comes to body function but it is also very sensitive. [note]Do not try a treatment without proper diagnosis as you may only be making the situation worse. [/note]Liver damage is very hard to control and even harder to reverse so its better to be careful right from the start.