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How is plaque psoriasis diagnosed?

Dr. Mark W. Moronell, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Dermatologists diagnose psoriasis by examining the patient's skin, nails, and scalp. To find out if anything else may have developed such as an infection, a dermatologist may perform a biopsy. To perform a biopsy, a dermatologist removes a small bit of skin or nail. This procedure can be safely performed during an office visit.

Doctors look for classic signs, including raised, inflamed, red lesions covered by silvery white scales, typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.

Doctors will determine treatment by the type of psoriasis, the severity, the location, patient age and medical history, and the overall effects psoriasis has on the patient’s overall physical and emotional well-being.

Plaque psoriasis is diagnosed by taking a medical history and doing a physical exam. A doctor will discuss your symptoms with you and look at your skin. A skin biopsy is sometimes performed simply to rule out other disorders. A healthcare professional may request x-rays if you have joint pain as a symptom.

A doctor can diagnose plaque psoriasis simply by examining it closely either with his or her eyes, or with the help of a microscope. Plaque psoriasis is similar to other skin conditions, like atopic dermatitis (a form of eczema), so careful examination can be key to making an accurate diagnosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.