When you have an ongoing condition, like psoriasis, getting an accurate diagnosis is a vital. After all, psoriasis is a lifelong condition that can be managed with the right treatment plan.
But because psoriasis has symptoms and characteristics that mimic other conditions, it is possible your doctor may not diagnose you correctly.
Here is what you need to know about psoriasis, its symptoms, and what to do if you think you have been misdiagnosed.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease caused by the body’s malfunctioning immune system. The National Psoriasis Foundation reports at least 7.5 million Americans are affected.
It is not contagious condition despite misconceptions.
And it isn’t simply a skin disease because it starts underneath the skin. It is a chronic (long lasting) condition where symptoms range from mild to severe.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is characterized by dry, flaky, red patches on the skin. These can appear anywhere on the body, but usually on the arms, legs, elbows, knees, and scalp.
The patches are a result of the body’s immune system triggering skin to reproduce too quickly resulting in cell buildup on the skin’s surface.
And psoriasis doesn’t just affect the skin. It may also affect the joints, causing stiffness and pain and tendons causing inflammation.
Psoriasis also increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, psoriatic arthritis (a condition where you have both psoriasis and arthritis), and metabolic syndrome (a cardiovascular complication resulting in several other conditions).
Importance of Getting a Correct Diagnosis
Since psoriasis is known to affect your entire body, your doctor will likely take a wide-ranging approach.
But a big concern for psoriasis patients is many people, including doctors, consider psoriasis a skin condition and only look at the skin symptoms in diagnosis and treatment. And that is a big mistake leading to some serious health problems.
One study in the Dermatology Times finds severe psoriasis may lead to increased risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.
Psoriasis can also lead to psoriatic arthritis (PsA) which leads to joint inflammation, depression, decreased life quality, and a shorter life span if not managed and treated properly. At least one-third of people with psoriasis will also develop PsA.