Community Views: Misdiagnosing Psoriasis
Last updated: December 2022
Being misdiagnosed is one of the most frustrating parts of the healing journey. Unfortunately, for many people with psoriasis, dealing with a misdiagnosis – or several of them – is often par for the course.
Doctors may only be looking at one symptom and fail to connect the dots to the real cause.
Being trapped at a starting line
The hardest part of misdiagnosis is that it stalls the process, much like being trapped at a starting line. This can leave you feeling frustrated and struggling to find hope.
The good news is that you are not alone. Many people in the psoriasis community have dealt with a misdiagnosis. To learn more about experiences within the community, we reached out to followers of our Facebook page. We asked: “Fill in the blank: Before receiving a psoriasis diagnosis, I was misdiagnosed with ______________.”
Here is what was shared.
Being told it is eczema or dry skin
Doctors who misdiagnose psoriasis as eczema or dry skin are only addressing one part of the condition. Doctors who are only looking at the external appearance could easily make this mistake. With psoriasis, the skin is often itchy, but the sensation is more of a stinging or burning.
Another key difference is that eczema tends to show up on the insides of knees and elbows, as well as wrists and ankles. Psoriasis is common on the lower back, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet.
Misdiagnosed with a skin infection
Similarly, when doctors look at the redness of the skin, they may misdiagnose it as a skin infection or other skin condition. Some people in the community shared that their doctors believed they had folliculitis. This is a skin condition where hair follicles become inflamed.
Psoriasis is more than just skin irritation. It is also an immune condition, so until that piece of what is happening is recognized, it is impossible to treat the real cause.
“A skin infection. The doctor put on Bactrim, which gave me a severe allergic reaction and made my psoriasis flare all over.”
Blaming an infestation for the problem
More than a few of you shared that your doctors assumed your diagnosis was due to a burrowing infestation. Scabies is an infestation of mites, which causes intense itching.
Another doctor assumed the diagnosis was ringworm, which leaves ring-shaped red blotches on the skin.
Doctors who are not sure
A few members of the community shared that their doctors were not comfortable making any diagnosis at all. While that can be frustrating, that is better than possibly being sent down the wrong path.
Finding a doctor with the right experience and expertise is an important part of the journey to diagnosis.
“My only visit to this doctor and he said ‘Oh, I do not know what that is.’”
If you are worried about a skin condition, ask your doctor for a referral to a dermatologist. Mention both skin- and non-skin-related symptoms, as doing so increases your chance of reaching the correct diagnosis.
Thank you to everyone who shared. We appreciate hearing your personal experiences so others in the community can better understand their own journeys.
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?