If You Notice This on Your Skin, Get Your Blood Checked, Experts Say

This common skin condition can make you more likely to have certain diseases.

When you develop a skin rash, there's usually a wide range of possible underlying causes. Most often, allergies and irritants are to blame, and thankfully, these kinds of skin conditions typically resolve with minimal intervention. However, there's one common skin problem that experts warn is a form of autoimmune disease, and if you notice it, it's important to rule out a range of associated conditions with a blood test. Read on to find out which skin condition is a major red flag for your overall health, and why this seemingly simple problem goes more than skin deep.

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If you notice psoriasis on your skin, get your blood checked.

CLOSE UP: Unrecognizable young woman suffering from autoimmune incurable dermatological skin disease called psoriasis. Female gently scratching red, inflamed, scaly rash on elbows. Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriasis is a common, chronic skin condition that currently affects roughly 7.5 million people in the U.S. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), about 80 percent of those individuals experience mild or moderate cases. However, experts now warn that psoriasis—an autoimmune disease in itself—is linked with higher frequency of several other autoimmune disorders. They say that if you have psoriasis, you should be screened for a range of other ailments which you may be predisposed to due to the dermatological condition.

In fact, one 2021 article published in The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) found that 46 percent of people with psoriasis showed clinical signs of other autoimmune disorders. "Screening for concurrent autoimmune disorders seems prudent for holistic management of patients with psoriasis," the authors wrote.

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Psoriasis may be associated with these autoimmune conditions.

The female senior adult patient listens as the mid adult female doctor reviews the test results on the clipboard.

Experts say that if you have psoriasis, you may simultaneously be at higher risk of several other disorders. "Patients with psoriasis may be more likely to have additional autoimmune disorders, including vitiligo, diabetes, autoimmune thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease," the AJMC authors wrote.

Your odds of developing rheumatoid arthritis are especially high, warns the AADA. They say that up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis experience joint inflammation that produces symptoms of arthritis. To screen for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory autoimmune conditions, your doctor can order a series of blood tests. These may include a rheumatoid factor test, an anti-CCP test, an erythrocyte sedimentation rate test, and more.

Here's what to look out for.

Dermatologist looking at woman's wrist

Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between psoriasis and other skin conditions. However, psoriasis is typically identified as red patches of rash on the skin, covered with thick, white or "silvery" scales, according to the Mayo Clinic. These patches are most often found on the knees, elbows, trunk, face, and scalp. The skin may appear dry or cracked, and may bleed or itch. You may also notice swollen joints, and ridges on the finger nails or toe nails.

In many patients, psoriasis goes through cycles of flare-ups and remission. Flare-ups can last weeks or months before subsiding or disappearing completely. However, symptoms are likely to eventually return.

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There are several treatment options available for psoriasis.

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Though there is no cure for psoriasis, there are several treatment options which may improve your dermatological symptoms. According to the U.K.'s National Health Services (NHS), your doctor should be able to prescribe a topical ointment, an oral or injected medication, or phototherapy. These treatments may help reduce scaling of the skin, and can "stop skin cells from growing so quickly," says the Mayo Clinic.

So, if you notice psoriasis on your skin, don't suffer in silence. Speak with your doctor for more information about possible treatments, and to rule out associated autoimmune conditions.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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