Psoriasis Symptoms & Warning Signs

Published: February 5, 2012

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Symptoms

Patches may begin as slightly thickened areas of dry skin that appear red or pink. Gradually, the patches can become thicker, itchier, or more painful. These symptoms can develop slowly or suddenly. If you scratch yourself or aggravate your skin, the symptoms can worsen more quickly.

Typically, psoriasis will cycle through flare-ups and periods of remission that can last anywhere from days to months. Some cases are severe while others are more subtle.

The most commonly affected areas are the elbows, knees, ears, and scalp. Patches can appear anywhere on the body, so if you have small bumps, red patches, extremely pink areas, or flaky skin, you might be developing psoriasis. Severe dandruff can indicate psoriasis on the scalp, and spots on the nails can indicate psoriasis on the nails. More than one area of the body can develop symptoms at the same time.

Sometimes, the patches go away on their own, leaving no symptoms behind. If you have a genuine case of psoriasis, the disease will recur over your lifetime.

Many allergic reactions, rashes, or sexually transmitted diseases can cause a doctor to misdiagnose your psoriasis. You will be able to identify a misdiagnosis if you do not experience another flare-up. For the most part, people with psoriasis will experience regular and unpredictable flare-ups that are followed by periods of remission.

Most people who have the condition will start to see symptoms in their late teens and mid-twenties. After the first symptoms, patients should expect the condition to come back; however, the timing and severity is unpredictable. Sometimes, people develop symptoms as children or older adults. Even if you don't have a rash, you could still have psoriasis.

When outbreaks recur, they tend to vary in severity. Rashes may be found on the joints, back, buttocks, arm, leg, armpit, stomach, genital area, or face. Headache, fever, chills, and extreme pain might accompany the rash. Primary and accompanying symptoms will vary from person to person. You might have an easier time determining what you should expect if you have experienced psoriasis in the past.

Skin patches can range in color from pinkish to bright red. These patches may be large or limited to small dots. In general, psoriasis causes dry skin with a layer of silver and flaky scales. The patches are usually elevated and very thick.

The symptoms will vary by location on the body. For example, scales on the scalp may be flakier than scales anywhere else on the body such as the knees and arms. Males may develop rashes on the genitals that resemble sexually transmitted diseases. Men and women may develop problems in the fingernails or toenails: the nail might become thick or discolored, causing dents to the nail. Eventually, the nail might fall off.

Warning Signs

The symptoms of psoriasis vary greatly in terms of severity. Some people experience subtle itching and flaking while others experience extreme pain and burning. If your symptoms become unbearable, then you should see a doctor as soon as possible to help provide a remedy for your situation.

Conditions that resemble psoriasis can be significantly more invasive and dangerous. Common misdiagnoses include fungal infections, skin cancers, eczema, arthritis, diabetes, syphilis, and acne. You might feel symptoms more strongly if you're undergoing a stressful situation.

Mild psoriasis may become worse if aggravated or left untreated. Rashes can be limited to one area, or they may spread over the body. If you notice your rash becoming painful or sensitive, you will want to visit a doctor as soon as possible so that you avoid possible risks.

A fever and joint pain may indicate a serious or worsening condition. Even if you have recurring symptoms, see a doctor if you experience complications. Some rashes require hospitalization and close monitoring. Especially if your rash grows or spreads, you may have a chronic condition.

About one-third of psoriasis patients will develop a condition called psoriatic arthritis. If you notice that you have joint paint that is mild, moderate, or severe, then you may have arthritis. In general, the psoriasis precedes the arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can affect one joint, multiple joints, the spine, fingers, and toes. People with psoriatic arthritis generally experience psoriasis of the skin and nails.

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