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Do You Really Have Psoriasis?

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Article by Vivienne Savill

Do You Really Have Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is one of those skin conditions that many people are often mistakenly labelled with having. In clinic I often see clients who have been told by their hairdresser, or even their doctor that they have psoriasis, when in fact they have another condition that appears similar. Unfortunately the wrong 'label' can often mean the wrong treatment. So in this article I will briefly talk about psoriasis and another very common and easily treated skin condition.

So what does psoriasis look like and if it isn't psoriasis, what other skin condition could it be.

Psoriasis is characterized by the following:

  • presence of silvery coloured scale. The scale is usually dry. The scale can be easily sloughed off. It is so thick that the normal skin discolouration and return of the blood to the area, that occurs when pressure is applied to the skin surface, might not be seen;
  •  Underlying the scale is an obvious area of redness with a distinct start and finish which is known as plaque;
  • psoriasis is normally symmetrically distributed over the body;
  • rarely does it travel to the face and when it does the areas of the face next to the scalp are most commonly affected (e.g. forehead).

So if it's not psoriasis, what else could it be?

A much more commonly occurring skin disorder of the scalp and face is seborrhoeic dermatitis. This can look similar to psoriasis due to its scaling appearance.  Seborrhoeic dermatitis;

  •  produces mild scaling scale. When it is a fine scale it is sometimes referred to as dandruff;
  •  its scale is often white& dry  but also can be greasy;
  •  occurs in areas where the sebaceous glands are most active such as the face, scalp the sternum;
  •  is common in the hairy areas of the face such as the eyebrows, eyelids and  the beard area;
  •  is prone in skin folds especially behind and inside the ears,  around the nasolabial flap and under the chin;
  •  on the body is occasionally found in the axillae, groin, anogenital and submammary region.

It is believed that someone with seborrhoeic dermatitis is more prone to developing psoriasis.

Why is it important to know the difference

Psoriasis is believed to be a genetically based skin disorder that is triggered by various factors including injury, medications and streptococcal infection. Like seborrhoeic dermatitis, stress can be a trigger and lead to a flare up.

Psoriasis is a more severe condition affecting around 1.5 to 2% of the population. Not only can its distribution be much more widespread and severe, but it is also linked to other autoimmune disorders such as arthritis and metabolic syndrome. Because of its extensive distribution over the body especially in obvious areas such as the elbows and knees, it can cause great embarrassment and a decreased quality of life.

Other skin conditions that can be confused with psoriasis include:

  •  lichen simplex chronicus
  •  tinea corporis or tinea capitas
  • mycosis fungoides
  •  nummular dermatitis

How does the treatment of psoriasis vary from seborrhoeic dermatitis treatment?

Seborrhoeic dermatitis is believed to be linked to the presence of a yeast known as malassezia furfur.

Topical products should therefore contain ingredients to help decrease the yeast overgrowth.  Generally clients of Healthy Skin Clinic will use a shampoo daily for several days then every 2nd or 3rd day to get the condition under control. Not only does the  shampoo contains ingredients to eradicate the yeast but also many essential oils and plant extracts that help to lift the scale and promote a healthy scalp. Where there are more severe lesions, a cream to promote wound healing specifically for this skin disorder, is also recommended.

For any treatment to be successful long term, it is helpful to address internal triggers. This might include various nutrient deficiencies and some changes to diet such as restricting ingredients that stimulate yeast overgrowth.

Psoriasis on the other hand responds well to occlusive products such as oil based creams. Keratolytic agents help remove the unwanted scale. Anti-inflammatory extracts and essential oils help to turn off the 'fire within' .Oral anti-inflammatory agents and natural  supplements that help control the autoimmune triggers are usually recommended. Psoriasis also has dietary triggers, however these can vary widely from one person to the next.

How to Treat Your Seborrhoeic Dermatitis or psoriasis

Healthy Skin Clinic is an online service, available Australia wide, wherever you have internet access. Our service is unique in that we use comprehensive health questionnaires to establish the likely triggers of your skin disorder and contributing health issues including dietary and lifestyle factors. Skilled practitioners are able to order pathology tests to investigate further for contributing factors such as nutrient deficiency, gut issues, stress and other hormones.

Following your online consultation you are given a Treatment Program. Supportive articles,  information about your skin disorders as well as  dietary and lifestyle recommendations are accessed via the Healthy Skin Clinic Membership site. This helps our clients understand why they have been recommended specific treatments and helps the client stick to their program.

The topical products are available exclusively to clients of Healthy Skin Clinic following a consultation. Our Formulation Chemist can formulate and change topical products such as creams, according to the clients individual needs.

The Online Skin Consultations are perfect for people who are on long waiting lists to see a medical skin specialist or those living in regional areas.  

So whether it is seborrhoeic dermatitis, psoriasis or another skin condition causing a flaky scalp, Healthy Skin Clinic can help. Go to or contact us at


19 Mar 2015

Last Update: 24 Mar 2015

Article/Information supplied by Vivienne Savill

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.