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How Is Psoriasis Diagnosed?

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 16:48

It can be difficult for the doctor to diagnose psoriasis in the early stages, when the disease may be limited to rough patches on the elbows. Certain symptoms, such as a dandruff-like scalp condition or what looks like a fungal infection, may be hard to recognize as psoriasis. Nail pits may be a sign of early psoriasis, but they may also be a sign of other conditions. The diagnosis is straightforward if the doctor examines the skin and sees thick, red, flaky patches-the plaques characteristic of psoriasis.

In people with psoriatic arthritis, the arthritis usually follows the appearance of psoriasis. Typically, psoriatic arthritis first appears in the finger and toe joints closest to the nail. Other forms of psoriatic arthritis may be more difficult to diagnose. The joints may be affected in no recognizable pattern. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis cannot be diagnosed by a blood test.

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Who is likely to get psoriasis?

In about one third of cases, psoriasis is inherited. It is estimated that if a child has one parent with psoriasis, the child's chances of getting the disease are between one in 10 and one in four. If both parents have psoriasis, a child's chances of getting the disease are about 50-50.

However, a variety of internal and external factors can influence whether a person with a family history of psoriasis is affected by the disorder. People with psoriasis may notice that there are times when their skin worsens and times when it improves. Psoriasis can flare up as a result of triggering factors that vary from one individual to another.

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