Psoriasis Center

Psoriasis Diagnosis

It can be challenging for the doctor to diagnose psoriasis in the early stages, when the disease may be limited to rough patches on the elbows. Certain symptoms, such as a dandruff-like scalp condition or what looks like a fungal infection, can be difficult to identify as psoriasis. Likewise, pitting of the nails may be a sign of early psoriasis or may also be a sign of other condition(s).

Seek help first from your family doctor, who can recommend you to see a dermatologist. Dermatologists diagnose psoriasis by examining the skin, nails and scalp.  The different health professionals who can diagnose and treat psoriasis include:

  • Dermatologists
  • Family medicine doctors
  • Internists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Rheumatologists (if joints are involved)

Medical exams
The diagnosis for psoriasis is straightforward. Dermatologists usually diagnose psoriasis initially by examining the affected skin. If the doctor sees thick, red, flaky patches-the plaques characteristic usually s/he will begin to suspect psoriasis. Sometimes a small piece of skin affected by the psoriasis is cut out during a biopsy. Then, a microscopic examination of tissue taken from the affected skin patch can make a definitive diagnosis of psoriasis. This definitive diagnosis of psoriasis helps rule out and distinguish it from other skin disorders. Special tests are usually not needed to diagnose psoriasis but may be ordered

Blood tests - Blood work may help rule out other forms of arthritis, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis.

Biopsy - If it is hard to diagnose the condition by looking at the skin, the doctor may remove a small skin sample (biopsy). The sample will be sent to a lab for microscopic analysis.

KOH test - Sometimes a skin KOH prep test is done to rule out a fungal infection. The KOH (potassium hydroxide) test is on a skin sample to microscopically determine whether a fungus is causing a skin infection.

Imaging tests - If a person experiences and reports joint pain to the doctor, X-rays may be taken to diagnose psoriatic arthritis.

When a dermatologist give a diagnosis of psoriasis, s/he will also provide information about the type of psoriasis diagnosed and recommend a course of treatment for the itchy, flaking skin and other symptoms. It is understandable and expected that a person diagnosed with psoriasis will probably have additional questions and concerns about psoriasis.

Engaging in a dialogue with the doctor can help you educate yourself about psoriasis and the treatment options available. You can also giving him/her a better sense of who you are and how psoriasis is affecting your health and life. With the lines of communication open, you and your doctor will be able to develop the best treatment plan for their individual needs. Continue reading to learn more about psoriasis treatments in the next section.

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