Have you have ever noticed red, raised, scaling patches of skin on yourself or another?  It could be Psoriasis.  Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the skin but is more commonly found on the elbows, knees and scalp.  When diagnosed with psoriasis, it can be stingy, itchy and and overall uncomfortable.  Psoriasis has also been linked with other serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, depression and psoriatic arthritis.

We don’t know what the exact cause is, but we do know that the genetics and the immune system can play a huge role in developing psoriasis.  Psoriasis shows itself in men and women equally, at any age and of all skin types and race.  Psoriasis is not contagious or infectious.  

So how can you tell if what you have is psoriasis?  By seeing your dermatologist.  There are no special tests that can be done, but by seeing a skin specialist, they will be able to determine if the red, scaling patches of skin is psoriasis or not.  There are no special tests, such as blood work, to help determine your diagnosis but a biopsy can be performed to look at the inflamed skin under the microscope.  

Psoriasis also comes in different forms. There is plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic psoriasis.  

  • Plaque Psoriasis – this is the most common type of psoriasis.  Symptoms include: red, raised, red patches with a build up of dead skin cells that give off a silver/white color.  These skin patches of skin can be itchy, painful and even crack and bleed.
  • Guttate Psoriasis – this is the second most common type of psoriasis.  It appears as smaller dot like lesions, starts in childhood to early adulthood and commonly triggered by strep infection.
  • Inverse Psoriasis – this type can be found in conjunction with another form of psoriasis. This is generally very red, appear to be shiny and smooth in the body folds.
  • Pustular Psoriasis – this type appears closer to hands and feet and looks infected, but it is not.  The white pustules/blisters are filled with white blood cells and surrounded by red skin.  Again, this is not infectious and like all forms of psoriasis, it is not contagious. 
  • Erythrodermic Psoriasis – this is a less common but more severe form of psoriasis that can lead to a wide spread of hot redness all over the body.  Symptoms include itching, burning, pain and skin can peel off in sheets.  It is very important to see your dermatologist if you think you have erythrodermic psoriasis as it could be life threatening. 

There are different levels of severity; mild, moderate and severe.  What determines the severity?  The amount of skin (Mild – less than 3% skin coverage, Moderate – 3-10% skin coverage, Severe – more than 10% skin coverage) and how much of the patient’s quality of life has been affected by psoriasis.  Treatment should be determined by your dermatologist.  

While following up with your dermatologist, it is important to also mention symptoms including:

  • Generalized fatigue
  • Tenderness, pain and swelling over tendons
  • Swollen fingers and toes that look like sausages
  • Stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in one or more joints
  • A reduced range of motion
  • Morning stiffness and tiredness
  • Nail changes
  • Redness and pain of the eye, such as conjunctivitis

These could be signs of psoriatic arthritis, which causes stiffness, swelling and pain around the joints.  It is also important that you follow up with your rheumatologist along with your dermatologist when dealing with psoriatic arthritis.  Early detection can help relieve pain and inflammation and help prevent permanent joint damage.

If you have what you think is psoriasis or have been diagnosed and need a routine follow up, please call (805) 497-1694 to set up and appointment with one of our dermatologists.