Important Health Screenings for People With Psoriasis

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Acoustic stethoscope and blood pressure gauge on an electrocardiogram printout

It’s not known exactly what causes psoriasis. But what is known is that the immune system and genetics play a role in the development of the skin condition. Psoriasis causes red, raised, scaly patces to appear on the skin. Usually it appears outside of the elbows, knees or scalp. However, it can appear in any location thoughout a person’s whole life. In many people, psoriasis appears with other conditions or diseases. That’s why it is important to receive health screenings from your doctor to understand if you have psoriasis or other related conditions. If you are diagnosed, you and your doctor can discuss treatment options that are best for you.

Psoriasis Health Screenings

There are six main types of psoriasis: plaque, nail, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic psoriasis. Your doctor can help you understand which type of psoriasis you have and which treatment is best for you. When visiting your doctor, you will receive a health screening to determine if you have psoriasis and which type you have. Once your doctor reviews your medical history, the health screening will begin.

First, the doctor will perform a physical examination. This usually involves an exam of your skin, scalp and nails. Sometimes, the doctor will take a small sample of skin called a biopsy. The skin sample is examined under a microscope to help determine the exact type of psoriasis you have. This also helps the doctor rule out other disorders.

It is important to tell your doctor if you have any other symptoms that may seem unrelated to your psoriasis. This is because psoriasis is actually linked to other diseases, conditions and behavioral problems. These include:

  • Obesity

  • Depression, low self-esteem, or social anxiety

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Cardiovasular disease

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Kidney disease

  • Other immune diseases (including psoriatic arthritis, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease)

Therefore, in addition to your psoriasis screening, your doctor may screen you for these other diseases and conditions. For instance, if the doctor thinks you may have obesity, they may measure your blood pressure, weight and body mass index. You may also need to provide a blood sample to test your blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, and other markers that may indicate if you have another condition.

Common Health Screenings

Blood glucose and A1c: Testing your blood glucose levels is quite simple. After fasting for at least 8 hours, a finger prick helps draw out a drop of blood that is applied to a test strip. Your A1c is measured through a regular blood test that is then analyzed by a lab. The results of your blood glucose and A1c tests helps determine if you have diabetes.

Blood pressure: This is one of the most important screenings because high blood pressure usually does not have any symptoms. To measure your blood pressure, a cuff is placed around your upper arm. High blood pressure can put you at greater risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Cholesterol levels: After fasting for at least 8 hours, a healthcare professional will take blood. The results of this blood test will reveal your total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and HDL (good) cholesterol. High cholesterol can put you at greater risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Body mass index (BMI): BMI is calculated by taking a measurement of your waist circumference or by using your body weight taken by a scale. A high BMI can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Kindey function: To determine how well your kidneys are functioning, a healthcare professional will take blood and a urine sample. The results of your blood and urine test will reveal if your kidneys are properly removing wastes and excess fluid from your body. Abnormal kidney function may be a sign of kidney disease.

Depression: There are many instruments used to screen for depression. The most common methods are short questionaires in which you rate your responses. Your healthcare provider may also ask you a series of questions that you should answer as honestly as possible.

After your health screenings, your doctor can help determine the best treatment plan for your psoriasis. If you have another associated condition or require further testing, your doctor may refer you to another doctor who specializes in that specific disease or condition.

Overall, the treatment for psoriasis depends on the type of psoriasis you have and whether your psoriasis is mild, moderate or severe. Typically, topical creams, ointments, mouisterizers and shampoos are used for mild psoriasis. Moderate to severe psoriasis can be treated with light therapy (phototherapy) or medications that are taken either by mouth or injection. While there is no cure for psoriasis, routine health screenings with your doctor and staying on top of your treatment plan can help reduce symptoms and clear the skin.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Oct 2

  1. About Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation.

  2. Psoriasis. Mayo Clinic.

  3. Heart Health Screenings. American Heart Association.

  4. Kimball AB, Gladman D, Gelfand JM, et al. National Psoriasis Foundation Clinical Consensus on Psoriasis Co-morbidities and Recommendations for Screening. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;58(6): 1031-1042.

  5. Maurer D. Screening for Depression. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(2):139-144.

  6. Tests to Measure Kidney Function, Damage and Detect Abnormalities. National Kidney Foundation.

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