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How is psoriasis diagnosed?

Psoriasis can be tricky to diagnose because there are many other skin conditions that produce similar symptoms. To ensure an accurate diagnosis, your doctor may need to look at a small sample of your skin under a microscope. Not only will this aid your doctor in distinguishing your psoriasis from other skin conditions, but it will also help them diagnose the type of psoriasis from which you are suffering.

Usually, psoriasis is diagnosed by a visual examination. So in addition to taking a thorough medical history, your doctor will carefully go over the affected areas on your skin, nails, or scalp to determine whether it's psoriasis or something else.

All of these symptoms of psoriasis should be checked by a doctor:
  • Red, dry skin that itches or flakes off
  • Pitted or discolored nails
  • Joints that are stiff in the morning and painful, swollen, or limited in motion for more than 2 weeks -- with or without skin changes (although possibly with an eye infection)
  • Skin problems that are spreading
  • Fever
  • Dark, raised bump or spots on your skin.

Occasionally, a small sample (biopsy) of affected skin may be taken for microscopic examination, though this is relatively rare.

If you have joint pain or stiffness, your doctor may also do a physical exam, x-ray your joints, do a blood test, and withdraw joint fluid for examination to rule out other kinds of arthritis.

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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.