Here Are The Signs That You May Have Psoriasis
By Kelly Dougher
August 15, 2017
If you’ve noticed inflamed, scaly skin on your body and
wondered what it is (and what the hell you should do about it) we have
good news and bad news. The bad news is that it sounds like you have
psoriasis. The good news is that youre most likely not turning
reptilian. OK, the actual good news is that there are tons of
treatments available! This is really really good news because probably
the worst thing you can do when you have psoriasis is to do nothing and
hope it goes away on its own. Actually, thats not completely true;
we’ll get into what the absolute worst thing you can do for psoriasis is
in a little bit.
What is psoriasis?
Dr. Joshua Zeichner,
MD, explains it in the simplest terms: “Psoriasis is a condition in
which the immune system gets angry at the skin, leading to red, scaly
plaques.” Usually you’ll see it on elbows and knees but psoriasis can
appear anywhere, including the scalp, lower back, nails, and even the
Want to get even more specific? “This is a genetic, autoimmune,
inflammatory condition in which your skin cells divide too quickly and
do not shed quickly enough,” says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse MD, FAAD, a
board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills and a clinical instructor
at the University of Southern California. Thats what creates the
inflamed, scaly plaques. According to Dr. Shainhouse, psoriasis is often
associated with psoriatic arthritis, metabolic syndrome, elevated
triglycerides, increased risk for heart disease, and obesity. Yikes. You
can see why it’s not something you want to sleep on.
What does it look like?
You can generally tell that
it’s psoriasis thanks to the main symptom of the aforementioned scaly
plaques that can be pink, white, or even silvery. Sometimes these
plaques will itch, crack, and possibly even bleed. There are also
different subtypes of psoriasis, according to Dr. Shainhouse: “Inverse
psoriasis appears in the underarms and groin; palmo-plantar psoriasis
causes itchy or painful peeling and pustules on the palms and soles; and
guttate psoriasis is named after ‘raindrops’, because you get a sudden
eruption of small pink, scaly spots all over the trunk, usually after
exposure to Strep throat,” Dr. Shainhouse says. A dermatologist will
have to examine your skin for a concrete diagnosis.
So what do you do about it?
Once you’ve been
diagnosed, you can discuss treatment plans with you dermatologist.
Luckily, there are now quite a few different options available now for
those suffering from psoriasis. According to Dr. Zeichner, your
treatment will depend on how mild or severe your case is, as well as
what kind of psoriasis you have. “Mild cases of psoriasis may be treated
with topicals anti-inflammatories including cortisones and Vitamin D
creams,” Dr. Zeichner says. “More severe cases may require systemic
medications like pills or shots to keep the inflammation calm.” If you
have scalp psoriasis, Dr. Zeichner suggests using over-the-counter tar
shampoos, such as Neutrogena T-Gel, to relieve dandruff and itching.
Shainhouse seconds asking your doctor for topical or oral/injectable
medications, depending on the severity of your psoriasis. You could also
try an over-the-counter exfoliating product, but Dr. Shainhouse
recommends getting advice from your dermatologist first. “Exfoliating
moisturizers can help to remove some of the thick scale, but this
condition requires management by your dermatologist,” she says.
could also be a viable option. “UV light is generally a no-no in
dermatology, since we know that too much can be associated with the
development of skin cancer and melanoma,” Dr. Shainhouse explains. “However, it has an anti-inflammatory effect in psoriatic skin, and is a
very useful option for reducing skin disease/symptoms.”
And what you definitely should not do about it…
Dr. Shainhouse also warns against doing certain things that could
worsen your psoriasis. Picking at the scales is the last thing you
should do. “Rubbing and picking at the skin will actually worsen the
spots,” Dr. Shainhouse says. “Psoriasis tends to develop in sites of
skin trauma, including cuts and scratches.” This is called the Koebner
phenomenon. She also recommends maintaining a healthy body weight and
avoiding drugs and alcohol, as obesity and substance abuse can also
If you suspect you might have
psoriasis, make an appointment with your dermatologist and check out the
National Foundation for Psoriasis at www.psoriasis.org.