Difference Between Psoriasis And Skin Cancer; Symptoms And Risk Factors

Psoriasis and skin cancer are similar in terms of causing changes in the skin’s appearance. Symptoms of the two skin conditions may also be slightly similar but there are some factors which can help in distinguishing one from the other. Psoriasis is quite a common skin disease which affects the way new skin cells are created by the immune system. The most common kind of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis. Under this condition, patches of red and dry skin with silvery scales are formed on the skin. Skin cancer is also one of the most common kinds of cancers. It is usually caused because of exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. UV rays of the sun can cause damage to DNA in skin cells, thus changing the way they grow and divide.

How to differentiate between skin cancer and psoriasis?

There are five types of psoriasis:

1. Plaque psoriasis: As mentioned above, plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis which causes red and dry patches on the skin with silvery scales.

Psoriasis and skin cancer have some distinguishing factors
Photo Credit: iStock

2. Inverse psoriasis: This causes smooth red patches along folds of the skin. This is a comparatively less common type of psoriasis.

Also read: Psoriasis: 7 Tried And Tested Natural Remedies

3. Erythrodermic psoriasis: This is a kind of psoriasis which causes inflammation on the skin. It causes redness throughout the body and may make the skin to peel away. Erythrodermic psoriasis is not that common either.

4. Pustular psoriasis: This is a condition which causes white blusters on hands and feet, and is not as common as plaque psoriasis.

5. Guttate psoriasis: This type of psoriasis affects skin across the body. It results in small, red and scaly dots on the skin.


Exposure to harmful UV rays of the sun can cause skin cancer
Photo Credit: iStock

Speaking of skin cancer, there are 5 major kinds of skin cancer. It is quite less likely that people confuse Merkel cell carcinoma and melanoma with psoriasis. One of the early symptoms of melanoma is change in a mole. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, changes in mole can be seen with the help of ABCDE method:

Asymmetry- Change in mole can be seen in case two halves of the mole begin to look uneven; border- in case edge of the mole becomes irregular; colour- if one part of the mole has a different colour than the rest; diameter- if the mole grows larger than 6 mm; evolving- in case the mole changes in shape, colour or size.

Also read: 7 Effective Home Remedies For Scalp Psoriasis

The less common kind of skin cancer is Merkel cell carcinoma. It shows symptoms like purple, red or pink lumps under the skin which are not painful.

Plaque psoriasis and basal cell carcinoma may both cause raised, itchy and red patches of the skin. But the two can be distinguished on the basis of itchiness, where former may cause itchiness as soon as the psoriasis develops and the latter is unlikely to itch or bleed until it grows quite large.

Squamous cell carcinoma is also similar to plaque psoriasis as they both cause scaly and rough patches on skin which may even cause bleeding. But the difference is that affected areas in plaque psoriasis are unlikely to bleed unless they are scratched; and patches only form on areas of skin which are exposed to the sun.

Also read: Does Smoking Really Lead To Skin Cancer? Here’s The Theory

Thick, scaly and raised lesions in plaque psoriasis are similar to the ones caused in case of skin of lymphoma. But in the former, lesions are red and often form on the scalp or skin of joints, and in the latter, the lesions can appear anywhere on the body are red or purple in colour.

Other factors which can help a person distinguish between psoriasis and skin cancer is age. Psoriasis can often be diagnosed at 15 to 35. Skin cancer, on the other hand, is more likely to affect older adults.

Skin cancer usually forms in areas of the body which are exposed to sunlight such as back of skin, shoulders or the face. Psoriasis usually affects scalp or skin of the joints such as knees and elbows.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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