Psoriasis Symptoms and Diagnosis

psoriasis can cover the whole back

psoriasis can cover a large area such as the back or torso

Psoriasis symptoms usually include marked patches of red, scaly, and irritated skin, often on the knees, elbows, and the torso (trunk), other areas may be dry, cracked, or appear normal and like healthy skin. Scalp psoriasis is also fairly common and can cause sufferers to feel self-conscious regarding dandruff, with many psoriasis shampoos marketed to treat the condition. Skin psoriasis may create pruritic (itchy) spots with scales, thickened skin, and a silvery or pinkish-red colour. In some patients, psoriasis can cause lesions to develop on the genitals (normally in males), joint pain as psoriatic arthritis develops, and nail psoriasis. Where the nails are affected, a patient may notice that their nails become thicker and develop discoloured areas (brown or yellow in hue), along with pitting or the nails and the possible separation of the nail from the nailbed.


Types of Psoriasis – Guttate and Plaque

There are a number of types of psoriasis, largely descriptive, with plaque psoriasis the most common. Plaque psoriasis is where the skin is covered with flaky, silvery scales over thickened patches of reddened, inflamed, and itchy skin. Guttate psoriasis describes a skin condition where the patient experiences small spots on the skin which are pinkish-red, which differs from pustular psoriasis that causes blisters that are white in colour but encircled by inflamed, red skin. The severe condition of erythrodermic psoriasis is where sufferers have large patches of very red skin that can spread across the back, a large portion of the scalp, or other area of the body.

Psoriasis and Dermatologists

Diagnosing psoriasis usually involves a physical assessment by an experienced practitioner such as a dermatologist. Occasionally, a patient may be sent for a skin biopsy in order to ensure that no other condition is responsible for the skin symptoms. Patients with skin psoriasis and joint pain may prompt a physician to consider psoriatic arthritis as a diagnosis and x-rays or other diagnostic imaging may be recommended.


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