Psoriasis is a chronic condition. This means that once you’ve been diagnosed, you’ll be managing and treating it for the rest of your life. Because of this, it can be easy to hold off on seeing a dermatologist until your next scheduled appointment. But in some cases, seeing a dermatologist is important. Keep reading to learn six reasons to pick up the phone, make an appointment, and get answers to your health needs.
1. You notice something new.
If you have moderate or severe psoriasis, there are some symptoms that you’re probably used to by now. These may include red, irritated, cracked, or dry patches of skin, as well as inflammation, swelling, and itchiness.
But if you notice something new, it’s important to see your doctor. A new symptom could be a sign that your condition is getting worse. For example, if you’re finding it harder to complete daily tasks or feel like your joints are swollen, you may be developing psoriatic arthritis.
A new symptom may also be a sign that your current treatment is no longer effective. You may have built up a resistance to a cream, topical lotion, or biologic. Even if you’re not entirely sure if this new symptom is related to psoriasis, it’s better to get it checked out.
2. You’re still scratching.
For many people with advanced psoriasis, the need to itch or scratch is the most annoying symptom. This itching sensation isn’t like a typical bug bite. It’s often described as a painful, burning sensation.
While itchiness is one of the most common symptoms, there are ways to control or reduce it. If you’re still experiencing this symptom, it’s time to speak up. Your current treatment is likely no longer working. Your dermatologist may recommend a new treatment altogether, such as a biologic. Or they may suggest adding another cream or ointment to your regular routine. Other treatment alternatives include stress-reducing activities, cold showers, and getting moderate sunlight exposure or phototherapy.
3. You’re saying ‘no’ to social events because of your condition.
Although psoriasis is a skin condition, there’s also a psychological component to it. It’s common for people with psoriasis to have negative thoughts about their appearance. These thoughts can trigger shifts in mood and behavior. Anxiety or nervousness about your condition can make going out in public and even socializing with close friends difficult.
If you feel like your psoriasis is controlling your social calendar, make an appointment with your dermatologist. They can suggest ways to improve your self-confidence, such as the best clothes to wear or makeup tips to help conceal your symptoms. They may also refer you to another specialist, such as a therapist to help you better cope with your condition.
4. You’re planning to go on a vacation.
The current TSA flying standards prohibit liquids, gels, and aerosols larger than 3.4 ounces in your carry-on luggage. Any liquid must also fit in 1 quart-sized zip-top bag. While this restriction isn’t disastrous for most people, it can be for those with psoriasis. Topical creams often come in larger sizes, and you’ll likely want to reapply medicated lotion during the flight because of the aircraft’s dry air.
Before traveling, get a letter from your doctor or print out a copy of your prescription to show to any TSA officer. Your creams may still be subjected to further screenings, but you can fly easier by knowing you have everything you’ll need with you during the flight.
5. Your joints are starting to hurt.
Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes joint stiffness and pain. Psoriatic arthritis commonly appears in middle-aged adults between ages 30 and 50. But anyone can be diagnosed with it.
It can be hard to figure out if your psoriasis is progressing, or if you’re developing psoriatic arthritis. For this reason, the Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board recommends seeing a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- swelling, pain, or stiffness in one or more joints, especially the fingers or toes
- pain or tenderness in the lower back, feet, or ankles
- joints that feel warm to the touch
- a noticeable change of appearance in nails, such as pitting or separation from the nail bed
6. You’re curious about a new treatment or natural remedy.
There are hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter medications that can help people with psoriasis. And with researchers looking into new possibilities each year, the number is continuously growing.
Talk to your doctor or dermatologist before adding a new medication or remedy to your current treatment, even if it’s over-the-counter or a natural approach. Anything new may disrupt your current treatment plan or make your symptoms worse. Your healthcare team may discourage against a new treatment if they think it will counteract with a medication you’re already taking. They will also be able to answer any questions you may have about this new treatment and may suggest another appointment to see if the new treatment is effective.