Psoriasis is an often misunderstood disease. Even worse than being misunderstood by many individuals who do not realize the suffering that psoriasis sufferers endure is the fact that, often based on one symptom that psoriasis sufferers report, some doctors may misdiagnose psoriasis, prescribing medications not meant to treat it. This causes an individual who actually has psoriasis, but is misdiagnosed, to endure even more suffering unnecessarily.
Origin and symptom that may lead to misdiagnosis
Psoriasis is an incurable autoimmune disease that manifests in the skin. There are several types of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis being the most common. With plaque psoriasis, as with other autoimmune diseases that manifest in the skin, the immune system thinks normal cells are invaders and then attacks normal cells. Plaque psoriasis appears as red lesions covered with thick white or silver scales. Normal skin is composed of three layers. My last punch biopsy of a mildly affected area indicated the skin was 18 layers thick. Psoriasis may be localized or cover a wide area of the body. It is often disabling, causing many symptoms, including burning, pain and severe itching.
Psoriasis was described in ancient times. The word psoriasis is derived from the Greek word “psora” and, according to encyclopedia.com and other sources, means “itch” or “to itch.” This symptom seems to lead some doctors to incorrectly diagnose and prescribe treatments for a condition the patient does not have, even if the patient has already been diagnosed with psoriasis.
After my employer changed insurance plans, I could no longer see the specialist that had been treating my psoriasis because that physician did not accept the new insurance. As soon as I complained of intense itching, which 60% to 70% of psoriasis sufferers endure, a new doctor said I do not have psoriasis because “psoriasis doesn’t itch.” Even after explaining I had been treated for psoriasis with aggressive treatments by two previous physicians, he insisted I do not have psoriasis. I was treated by several doctors for skin conditions I do not suffer from, since “psoriasis does not itch.”
I was sure a visit to a reputable local hospital clinic would result in my finally being properly treated again. I was shocked when an attending physician said “her itching discounts a psoriasis diagnosis.” I informed her “the word psoriasis is derived from the Greek and the very word means ‘itch’!” I have not been back since.
Being informed helps
What proved almost funny is that another autoimmune disease I have was also misdiagnosed by a specialist at the same clinic as folliculitis, which is infection of a hair root. I had more than 100 lesions on my feet, legs, face, neck and chest, yet was diagnosed with folliculitis. Calcipotriene ointment was prescribed. I read the insert and discovered that calcipotriene is a Vitamin D cream “indicated for the treatment of plaque psoriasis in adults” and “this medication should not be used for any disorder other than that for which it is prescribed.” So my leucocytoclastic vasculitis was misdiagnosed and I was prescribed an ointment that is used only to treat psoriasis. So I finally have a treatment for my psoriasis, improperly prescribed for another condition not even treated with calcipotriene ointment!
If you have scaly skin lesions that itch and hurt, you may have psoriasis. Get informed about psoriasis. It is imperative to be properly armed with proof if you encounter a physician that incorrectly says “you do not have psoriasis because psoriasis does not itch.”