5 Skin Conditions Psoriasis Patients May Be Misdiagnosed With
Last updated: June 2021
No, my dry flaky itchy skin is not eczema.... It's not bug bites... and it's not ringworm. I found myself saying this often to people who were not familiar with psoriasis. There were times I even had to have this conversation with my primary care physicians. My psoriasis was such a severe and stubborn case that at times some of my doctors weren't confident in their diagnoses of saying I had psoriasis. Here are the 5 misdiagnoses commonly given to psoriasis and the differences between the two.
Do you have ringworm?
Some people assumed my psoriasis was ringworm, a contagious condition of the skin caused by fungi. Like psoriasis, the symptoms of ringworm can appear as itchy, red, scaly, cracked skin. The difference between the two is, psoriasis is caused by an overreactive immune system, not a fungus. Psoriasis is also non-contagious, you can not catch psoriasis from anyone and it's a lifelong chronic condition which can usually be controlled with diet and prescription treatments. Fungi can be treated and cured with specific treatments.
Do you have eczema?
Although these two conditions may seem closely related, they are different. The part of the immune system affected causing psoriasis are the T-cells. These cells are responsible for skin cell production and in someone living with psoriasis they are producing at an unusual and rapid rate. There is still much to learn about both conditions, but even more so for eczema. Similar to psoriasis, eczema also has a genetic and immune component to it, but the exact immunology of the condition still needs to be better understood. It doesn't seem as though eczema is related to the t-cells but other areas of the immune system which are still being studied.
Do you have a poison ivy rash?
There were times when people assumed my psoriasis was poison ivy rash. A poison ivy rash appears as a red, inflamed, irritated, blisters of skin. It is caused when someone comes in contact with the oil from the poison ivy leaf and the person ends up having an allergic reaction. While environmental factors do play a role in many people who have psoriasis, poison ivy is not one of the direct factors.
Do you have bug bites?
Guttate psoriasis is one of the 5 types of psoriasis and it's different from plaque in that guttate appears as small bumps on the skin. People who have this type of psoriasis usually encounter after some type of sickness such as strep throat. Some of my psoriasis friends who have this psoriasis type have shared that people often assume the spots on their legs and arms are due to bug bites.
Do you have dandruff?
Often times people living with scalp psoriasis go undiagnosed for years because the symptoms are so closely related to those who have dandruff, a condition of the scalp which causes dry flaky skin. The difference is dandruff is not immuno-related.1 Dandruff is caused by oily skin, not washing the scalp enough, a fungus, and sensitivity to hair products.
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