While the early signs of psoriasis can vary from one person to another due to the many types, here are some of the most common signs to be wary of:
Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
Small scaling spots often seen in children
Dry cracked skin that could bleed
Itching, burning or soreness
Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
Swollen and stiff joints
Patches that are typically associated with psoriasis range from appearing like a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major outbreaks that cover large areas. These plaques usually come in cycles, where they flare first for a few weeks or months, then become subdued for a time (or even go into remission).1
Where Does Psoriasis Appear?
Psoriasis can manifest anywhere in your body. Some of the areas where you can commonly spot the symptoms of this condition, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, include:2
• Scalp: Psoriasis in the scalp can range from mild (slight, fine scaling) to very severe (presence of thick, crusted plaque spread all throughout the entire scalp). The condition can even extend beyond your hairline and onto your forehead, back of the neck or around the ears.
• Face: The eyebrows, skin between the nose and the upper lip, upper forehead, and hairline are most prone to facial psoriasis. The eyelids may also be affected, with the scales covering the lashes and the edges of the eyelids becoming red and crusty. Scales can also build up on your ears, blocking the ear canal and potentially causing temporary hair loss.
The skin on your face is much more sensitive compared to other body parts, so make sure to exercise caution when treating psoriasis in this area.3
• Hands, feet and nails: Skin cracks, blisters and swelling typically accompany psoriasis flare-ups in the hands and feet. Psoriasis can cause nail changes in at least 50 percent of psoriasis patients and 80 percent of psoriatic arthritis patients, and these include:4
◦ Pitting (shallow or deep holes in the nails)
◦ Deformations (changes to the normal shape of the nail)
◦ Nail thickening
◦ Onycholysis (separation of the nail from the nail bed)
◦ Nail discoloration
• Genitals: Smooth, dry and red lesions first appear on your genitals. If left untreated, this results in the onset of inverse psoriasis, the most common type of genital psoriasis. Some of the regions of the genital area where psoriasis is most likely to be occur are:5
Pubis (region above the genitals)
Creases between thigh and groin
Anus and the surrounding skin
• Skin folds: Just like your genitals, skin folds on your armpits and under the breasts can be affected by inverse psoriasis. Frequent irritation because of rubbing and sweating can trigger this condition.
Methods Used to Diagnose Psoriasis
It is crucial that you consult a physician immediately if you experience any of the psoriasis symptoms mentioned earlier, or any of these other hallmarks:7
- Progression of the disease beyond the initial stage, causing discomfort and pain
- Difficulty in performing tasks
- Increase in concerns about skin appearance
- Development of joint problems such as pain, swelling or inability to do daily tasks
Below are a two ways that physicians use to confirm a psoriasis diagnosis:8
- Physical exam and inquiries on medical history: Your physician will examine your skin, scalp and nails. They will also take note of your medical history, as there is a possible link9 between this skin condition and your genes.
- Skin biopsy: This involves taking a small skin sample, or biopsy, and examining it under a microscope. This allows your physician to learn the exact type of psoriasis you might have, as well as rule out other skin conditions. This test could be done at your physician’s office after applying a local anesthetic.
Psoriasis can not only cause massive lesions and scarring, but it may also potentially hamper your confidence and disrupt your daily routines. Make it a point to check for any of the symptoms from time to time — this could make a difference in reducing health risks.