Diagnostic Tests for Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a common skin condition characterized by reddish, itchy patches of skin that can become inflamed and covered in these silvery colored scales. Psoriasis is actually a type of autoimmune disease which alters the natural life cycle of the patient’s skin cells. This leads to the buildup of additional cells on the outer layer of the skin.
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Unlike other types of autoimmune disease, the diagnosis of psoriasis is fairly straightforward. Doctors only the need the following to diagnose new cases of psoriasis:
- Physical Examination: Most of the time, doctors will be able to make their diagnosis based on a check of their patient’s medical history and then conducting a brief physical examination of the patient’s skin, scalp, and nails.
- Skin Biopsy: Sometimes, the patients physical symptoms may not be conclusive enough to make a final diagnosis. Under these circumstances, their doctor may order a skin biopsy to be taken. After examining this skin sample under the microscope, your doctor should be able to determine which type of psoriasis you have, as well as rule out any other possible diseases.
Medical Conditions Similar to Psoriasis
There are a variety of medical conditions which can produce symptoms that are quite similar to psoriasis. These similar conditions include:
- Seborrheic Dermatitis: This type of dermatitis can cause the skin to become reddish, greasy, scaly, and itchy. It usually will develop in the oilier sections of the body, like the face, upper chest, and back. If it develops on the patient’s scalp, then it can cause chronic dandruff.
- Lichen Planus: As an inflammatory condition, lichen planus produces these irritated, flat-topped bumps or lesions that form in rows on the patient’s arms and legs.
- Pityriasis Rosea: As another common skin condition, this is often confused with psoriasis. Pityriasis rosea can begin as a large spot (herald patch) located on the chest, abdomen, or back. Eventually this becomes a rash resembling the drooping branches of a pine tree that can spread across the entire body. Fortunately, this condition will usually clear up on its own within two months.
- Tinea Corporis (Ringworm of the body): If you get a fungal infection within the top layer of your skin, it could produce symptoms quite similar looking to psoriasis. While this medical condition can produce a reddish, scaly rash, it will form in the shape of a circle.
If you think that you may be experiencing some of the symptoms associated with psoriasis, then you should call your doctor to set up an appointment for a physical examination. During this exam, you’ll want to list any and all of the symptoms you have, since this will help ensure the most accurate diagnosis.