Skin Biopsy and Psoriasis
Last updated: February 2021
Having lived with psoriasis for seventeen years, I have experienced many things, including a skin biopsy. I will not say it is the worse thing I have had to experience but I will not fool anyone and say it's not the most thrilling either.
If you have not had the privilege to experience a skin biopsy, then I hope you find this article helpful. If you have, I hope you find this article validating.
Understanding skin biopsies
When I was first diagnosed all those years ago, I was not put through skin biopsies. Nowadays, it seems to be common practice if a doctor thinks you may have psoriasis. Sometimes it is called a punch biopsy.
A skin biopsy removes cells or skin samples from the surface of your body. Whichever name the doctor chooses to call it, the purpose of the test is the same. The sample taken from a skin biopsy is examined to provide information about your medical condition, specifically for this article, psoriasis.
What to expect
I found a very interesting article from Yale Medicine entitled "Skin Biopsies: What You Should Expect" in which a punch biopsy is described as using a circular blade that resembles a cookie cutter. On an area of skin where an active patch is located an amount of skin can be extracted.
From there it is sent to the lab so that it can be further examined. I found it interesting that in this article they say the skin is enclosed in paraffin wax. This allows the examiner to be able to examine the delicate tissue. It is through this examination that a determination of psoriasis can be made.
The dermatologist that examined me all those years ago just said yes I agree with what your doctor is thinking. It is psoriasis. I have to admit it was easier then.
My own experience
It actually during my time in a clinical trial that I had my first and only skin biopsy done. The doctor never did give me the reason for wanting to do one. I just always assumed it was to see if the experimental medicine was having any effect on the plaques from the inside of my body.
I agreed to it. They chose a spot on top of my foot close to my leg. Honestly, the only thing I felt was a bit of a sting from the needle. It was over before I even knew they did it. I didn't feel anything else. When the doctor moved across the room I could see a band-aid covering the spot. That was it. I had made it through the biopsy.
Caring for the biopsy site
There was nothing special I had to do other than treat it like any other wound you would have. A little antibiotic ointment a clean band-aid for a couple of days. There was no deep gaping hole that took time to heal. After those couple of days, off came the band-aid.
It looked just like any other plaque psoriasis patch I had. The only irritation came from the band-aid itself which was across a big psoriasis patch. You can imagine how that felt taking it off. It's just like when your clothes get stuck in a patch and you have to pull it out. Not comfortable by any means.
Do I need another biopsy?
If there comes a time when a biopsy is needed for something other than my psoriasis, I will absolutely agree to it. While I did not have a bad experience, I do not believe multiple biopsies for the same thing need to be done.
I had a rheumatologist that wanted to do a biopsy and they kept approaching me on the subject. Each time I would tell them a resounding no. It almost felt like she was saying that all the years I had been living with a psoriasis diagnosis was a lie.
Don't get me wrong I am not trying to persuade someone one way or another. I am just simply writing about my experiences. Hopefully, someone who reads this and has never had a punch or skin biopsy done will feel a little more at ease if they are faced with having one done.
Does your psoriasis management change with the seasons?