Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the U.S. Yet, many people don’t know what it is or even what it looks like, because psoriasis symptoms can resemble more than 50 other diseases, such as eczema, lupus and rosacea. So, how do you know if you have psoriasis or a similar-looking condition?
What Is Psoriasis?
To distinguish psoriasis from other conditions, it is helpful to know about the disease. Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes skin to grow too fast. The skin cells rapidly build up on your skin creating scales, known as plaque. Psoriasis is usually found on the elbows, knees and scalp, but can also affect the legs, trunk and nails.
Stress, infections and certain medications can cause a psoriasis to flare up. But, psoriasis is not contagious and is treatable.
The Five Types of Psoriasis
- Plaque psoriasis: As the most common type of psoriasis, this condition appears as patches of thick, scaly and silvery plaques on the skin.
- Guttate psoriasis: A large-scale rash with small, reddish bumps that can often be linked to streptococcal or a bacterial infection.
- Inverse psoriasis: Dry, red, scaly patches form in the folds of the skin—such as armpits.
- Pustular psoriasis: Puss-filled blisters form on the skin.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: An aggressive form of psoriasis that causes widespread peeling, burning, fever and inflammation.
Other Similar-Looking Conditions
You may think you have psoriasis, but it could be something else. Here are diseases often confused with psoriasis:
Clinically known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is more prevalent than psoriasis and often appears on the backs of knees and elbows. The biggest difference between the two is how eczema is triggered as it can be brought on by outside irritants, such as dust and food. In comparison, irritants generally will not trigger psoriasis.
Lupus and psoriasis are both autoimmune diseases, but lupus is far less common and more severe as it can affect your internal organs.
Like psoriasis, rosacea is a long-lasting inflammatory skin disorder, but it mainly affects the face and eyes.
With the untrained eye, it can be hard to determine what skin condition you have. However, the diagnosis for psoriasis is straight forward and your dermatologist can most appropriately diagnosis and treat your psoriasis by taking your medical history and examining your skin, scalp and nails. Rarely, your doctor may require a small skin biopsy to diagnose psoriasis.
If you have a rash on your body and aren’t sure what it is, get evaluated. To find a dermatologist near you, visit bannerhealth.com.