5 Possible Reasons for a Psoriasis Misdiagnosis
Alisha Bridges | March 1, 2016
Reviewed by Michael Lehrer, MD on July 16, 2017
Psoriasis is a complicated disease, diagnosed through process of elimination by a series of procedures, tests and doctor experience. However, it can be tricky, as psoriasis symptoms can also resemble other diseases of the skin. Here are those diseases, and other reasons why psoriasis is misdiagnosed.
It's mistaken for other diseases
Psoriasis can be confused with over 50 diseases, including eczema, dermatitis, photodermatitis, bug bites, ringworm and rashes from lupus or other conditions. I was once told I had a possible fungus underneath the skin or another rare disease, both of which were scary, to later find out it was in fact psoriasis.
It doesn't "look" like psoriasis
The definition of psoriasis characterizes the disease as red, scaly, itchy patches of dry skin. Unfortunately for people of color, the description of “red” is not an accurate reflection of psoriasis on the skin. So if a doctor is not familiar with diagnoses of different skin types, many people of color may be misdiagnosed with eczema or fungus of the skin.
It hasn't yet made an appearance
A coworker of mine dealt with arthritis for years. Several years after her diagnosis, she started to see red spots appear on different parts of her body. A visit to her doctor revealed she had psoriasis. She wasn’t just living with arthritis, but had psoriatic disease - the spots just hadn’t made an appearance yet.
Before the age of 7, as a child I had flaky patches around my skin and elbows. Although the patches did look unique, we didn’t think it was anything other than a high concentration of dry skin. It wasn’t until chicken pox triggered the disease that it covered the rest of my body. Sometimes when psoriasis appears in small portions, the spots are assumed to be the wrong thing.
Appears in unusual place
Genital psoriasis is considered a rare form of psoriasis. But I wonder if it’s more common than we think, and that patients just feel too shameful to share the ‘spots down there’ with their doctor. If the only place psoriasis is located is on the genitals and not the rest of the body, it could also be mistaken for an STD if the person is sexually active.
How to combat misdiagnosis
Combating misdiagnosis can be challenging, but the best way to do it is by trial and error. If a diagnosis determined by a doctor is not psoriasis, one should try the treatment given to them. If it fails, then it might be time to consider a different condition. Also, a second opinion is always your best bet if you aren’t satisfied with a doctor’s attempts.