Psoriasis is a skin condition that creates red, thickened patches or silvery, scaly spots on the skin's surface. It occurs as an immune system disorder wherein skin cells reproduce faster than usual. Because the body can't shed these extra skin cells quickly enough, scaly spots or thickened areas called plaques develop, as described by the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
Although it is genetic, it usually occurs in outbreaks triggered by stress, illness, medications, alcohol, nicotine or even sunlight. Psoriasis mouth symptoms occur when the cellular issue spreads to this part of the body.
How It's Related to Regular Psoriasis
Psoriasis most often affects the torso and extremities, but can also cause lesions on the mucous membranes, including the tongue, lips and inside the mouth. In rare cases, as observed by the Journal of Dermatological Case Reports, it appears as red spots and flaky regions on the lips before it appears elsewhere on the body.
In general, psoriasis in the mouth is uncommon. If you have psoriasis and experience lesions in your mouth, speak with your dentist or dermatologist to be sure these are related to your psoriasis and not an indication of another problem. Proper diagnosis is important in order to pursue an effective treatment. Nonetheless, if you have been diagnosed with psoriasis, you may develop psoriasis mouth lesions.
According to the European Journal of General Dentistry, oral psoriasis can manifest as general tongue lesions in the form of yellow or red spots, whitish areas or semitransparent plaques. Oral psoriasis doesn't just affect the tongue, either; sores can appear on the palate (the roof of the mouth), inside of the cheeks or the lips as well. Luckily, it's rare to see any involvement in the gums.
How to Tell
If you've already been diagnosed with psoriasis, and see sores, fissures or yellow patches in your mouth, talk to your dentist or dermatologist to have the problem officially diagnosed. Some specific symptoms, as described by DermNetNZ, can include:
- Red patches with red or white borders.
- Redness of the mucus membranes in the mouth.
- Pustules or ulcers.
- Peeling gums.
Your doctor will probably pursue a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis. From there, treatment can include topical cortical steroids or oral medications that help control your body's autoimmune responses.
If You Have Symptoms
Those who have psoriasis, and experience flareups that affect the mouth or tongue, should consult with a dermatologist or dentist to determine the best way to manage their symptoms. The Office on Women's Health suggests that some of the treatments you may already be using for a psoriasis flareup will also help control psoriasis in your mouth. An antiseptic mouthwash like Colgate® PerioGard® can also help soothe your mouth while you're experiencing symptoms. Be sure to talk to your doctor, dentist or dermatologist before using any medication against your psoriasis.
Psoriasis mouth can be uncomfortable and unattractive, but with consistent management, mouth problems should be minimal. When you do have an issue, seek treatment from a qualified professional for the best possible results.