Genital Psoriasis: Don't Hide It From Your Dermatologist

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When skin cells reproduce too fast and pile up, patches or lesions can develop on the skin, often around the elbows, knees, and scalp. When this occurs, it’s called psoriasis. A chronic skin condition, psoriasis can even develop around the anus and buttocks or around the genitals.

If you have genital psoriasis, it’s understandable you may not want to talk about it. It can be embarrassing, painful, and stressful to deal with. But it’s important to talk about your genital psoriasis with your dermatologist, who can prescribe treatments to alleviate and potentially clear the psoriasis.

The Biggest Obstacle: Embarrassment

Embarrassment is the biggest reason many people don’t tell their doctors about their struggle with genital psoriasis. They’re embarrassed, and they don’t want to shock or horrify their doctor when they reveal their private body parts are affected by psoriasis. Does that sound familiar? Does the idea of talking to your dermatologist about genital psoriasis (or anything ‘genital’) make you cringe a little? You may have told yourself that no one besides you and your partner really needs to see the lesions that characterize genital psoriasis anyway.

It’s normal to be embarrassed, but it’s completely unnecessary. And hiding your genital psoriasis from your dermatologist could be detrimental to your overall health and well-being. Keep in mind your dermatologist has undoubtedly seen other cases of genital psoriasis before—in fact, they’ve probably seen many other kinds of dermatological conditions that affect the genitals.

Additionally, dermatologists have been educated and trained to assess and treat conditions like this. They have much more knowledge about the progression and triggers of genital psoriasis than you do. The best way to get the best treatment for genital psoriasis is to get a physician involved. Rest assured, they’ve worked with other patients whose genitals have been affected by a dermatological condition, and they’re not going to be grossed out, dismayed, or stymied by yours.

Acknowledgment Can Lead to Better Management

Once you’ve taken a deep breath and told your dermatologist about your genital psoriasis, the real progress can start. How serious are your symptoms? Many people with psoriasis report that the symptoms are worse in the genital area than any other part of their body, making effective treatment even more imperative.

You can tell your dermatologist about how the condition has progressed—that is, when it first developed, what seems to trigger flare-ups, the severity of your symptoms, etc. Your dermatologist can determine if your symptoms herald a case of plaque psoriasis, which tends to cause thick, red patches, or a case of inverse psoriasis, which is more likely to cause reddish-gray lesions that may be painful.

Once your dermatologist has a good sense of the type and severity of your case, you can work together to decide which treatment is most appropriate for your particular case of genital psoriasis. Your dermatologist can also steer you away from using products that might be too harsh for the sensitive skin in your intimate areas. Genital skin is thinner and more sensitive than skin on other parts of the body, so your doctor will advise you to steer clear of the treatments you might use successfully on other parts of your body. For example, you may have better success with a low-intensity topical corticosteroid cream rather than a stronger one that might be appropriate for psoriasis on your scalp or knees. If topical treatments don’t work, your dermatologist may recommend a biologic or other oral medication.

Be sure to stay in touch with your doctor, in case any new or unusual symptoms develop after treatment. You may need to try a slightly different tactic, but your dermatologist can work with you to determine the best path forward. The most important thing is to be honest with your doctor; that’s the first step to getting your genital psoriasis under control.

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Last Review Date: 2018 Aug 16
  1. Cather JC, Ryan C, Meeuwis K, et al. Patients’ Perspectives
    on the Impact of Genital Psoriasis: A Qualitative Study. Dermatology and
    Therapy. 2017;7(4):447-461. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5698203/
  2. Genital Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/specific-locations/genitals
  3. Genital psoriasis: how to treat and manage it. National
    Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/genital-psoriasis-how-to-treat-it-how-to-manage-it
  4. How can I treat genital psoriasis? American Academy of
    Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/scaly-skin/psoriasis/diagnosis-and-treatment-of-psoriasis/how-ca...
  5. Inverse Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/types/inverse
  6. Psoriasis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840
  7. Psoriasis
    and intimacy. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/living-well/psoriasis-and-intimacy
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