How Do I Know If It’s Psoriasis?
Itchy, scaly skin can be annoying, painful and embarrassing. If you have raised red or silvery patches that are scaly, thick and inflamed, you may have psoriasis.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin disorder where the red, scaly patches of skin are caused by an overproduction of skin cells. When skin cells form too quickly, the result is rough patches of accumulated dead skin. These patches are uncomfortable, itchy and can be painful as well.
Frequently, this flares up without any clear trigger, and there’s no consistent way to predict the skin’s behavior. Because of these factors, it is one of the most bothersome and disruptive skin conditions. The good news is that dermatologists can provide effective ways to manage psoriasis.
How to Know If You May Have Psoriasis
- How it feels: Patches of psoriasis plaques can feel very dry and flaky. Dry skin can feel itchy and is also prone to cracking. Cracked skin may cause bleeding, scabs, and is a risk for infection.
- What it looks like: These patches typically look red and inflamed and are raised from the surrounding skin. Affected dry skin looks somewhat silvery or white.
- Where it’s most often found: The most common areas of psoriasis on the body are found on the elbows, knees, lower back, scalp, face, palms of your hands, and soles of your feet. It can also be found on nails, your mouth and lips, eyelids, ears, and in your skin folds.
How Is a Doctor Able to Diagnose Psoriasis?
Visit a dermatologist or skin doctor for a consultation. Your skin condition is then diagnosed by the following:
- Physical exam where your doctor closely examines your skin to look for signs of this skin condition.
- Medical history evaluation in which your dermatologist asks questions about your medical and skin health history.
- Skin biopsy, when needed, that takes a skin sample that's examined under a microscope to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
Treatments for Psoriasis
Psoriasis is not curable, but it can be well managed for most sufferers. Symptoms can be controlled by using one, or a combination, of the following:
Topical creams that contain salicylic acid, steroids, retinoids or calcipotriene.
Phototherapy, also called light therapy, works well for many people in treating psoriasis. Sunlight works for some, while others choose to use UVB or PUVA treatment.
- Sunlight: If your doctor tells you to get some sun every day, 20 minutes a day should be sufficient.
- UVB: Your doctor can treat you with UVB rays from a phototherapy machine in the office.
- PUVA (psoralen plus ultraviolet A): UVA lamp sessions are given in conjunction with the drug psoralen. You can choose to take psoralen in pill form or apply it to your skin as a cream. Psoralen makes your skin more sensitive to light.
Natural treatments such as Dead Sea salts, Epsom salts, fish oil, turmeric, and aloe vera can sometimes also help. Over-the-counter tar shampoos can relieve dandruff and itching.
The Long-term Outlook If You’re Diagnosed with Psoriasis
Most people who have small amounts tend to stay with small amounts. People who have large amounts, such as 10 or 20 patches or more, may get more psoriasis. The more aggressive form a person has, the more aggressively a dermatologist will treat it.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of psoriasis, visit the Florida Academic Dermatology Center. Our dermatology and research clinic is dedicated to offering the best psoriasis treatment options. Our state-of-the-art facility provides caring medical care using cutting-edge treatments. Call us today at (305) 324-2110 or fill out the form on this page for an appointment.