Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to grow far too rapidly, leading to red, scaly patches all over your skin.
It is a common skin condition, but rarely in some cases, your oral cavity demonstrates the symptoms of psoriasis.
Oral psoriasis is difficult to diagnose as it has very similar symptoms to other conditions of the mouth. Oral psoriasis is not a severe medical problem, but it can cause discomfort in some cases.
In this article, we will attempt to understand about oral psoriasis and how to deal with it.
What is oral psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by red, scaly patches on your torso and extremities. When these symptoms start appearing inside your mouth and tongue, it is known as oral psoriasis. Its signs can be seen on your cheeks, gums, lips, and tongue.
Diagnosing oral psoriasis is tricky because it mimics the symptoms of other mouth conditions like stomatitis, oral thrush, etc. (1)
Signs and Symptoms
Psoriasis causes periodic flare-ups of symptoms which are seen in oral psoriasis too. There is little or no disease activity before or after the flare-up. (2)
Patients with oral psoriasis notice lesions on tongue, cheek, lips, and gums, varying in color from white to yellowish-white to gray. These lesions may be red and inflamed too.
You can also notice changes in the color, texture, and feeling of the tongue.
Some other symptoms of oral psoriasis are as follows –
- Red patches with yellow or white borders
- Swelling and redness on the tongue
- Smooth patches
- Fissures or cracks on the surface of the tongue
- Peeling skin on the gums
- Pain or a burning sensation on eating hot or spicy food
- Noticeable change in taste
People with psoriasis are more likely to develop an inflammatory condition called geographic tongue. It is characterized by irregular growth and shedding of tongue’s skin cells, resulting in smooth patches. (3)
Causes for Oral Psoriasis
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation in the United States, about 10% of people are born with one or more gene which makes them prone to developing psoriasis. But only about 2% of such people develop psoriasis.
They must have at least one of the relevant genes and be exposed to triggers like stress, medications, infections or injury to the skin.
Treatment for Oral Psoriasis
People with psoriasis rarely develop symptoms for oral psoriasis. When they do exhibit these symptoms, it usually doesn’t bother much.
You should consult a doctor or a dentist if the symptoms start interfering with daily activities. Before visiting a doctor, try some of the following home remedies:
- Rinse your mouth with lukewarm water and salt to ease the inflamed areas.
- Avoid spicy or very hot foods to prevent pain during eating.
- Stop smoking completely.
If these home remedies do not work, visit your doctor who can prescribe you medications to relieve the symptoms.
The medications for skin psoriasis help with the symptoms of oral psoriasis too. The doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories or topical anesthesia to reduce and inflammations, making it easier for you to eat and drink.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but you can effectively manage the disease by managing its symptoms. Since psoriasis is a lifelong condition, it may affect your self-esteem. You may be tempted to isolate yourself and feel depressed socially.
There is no correlation observed, but if you are diagnosed with psoriasis, you may develop some of these conditions:
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Other diseases of the immune system
- Eye disorders
- Metabolic syndrome
- Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Kidney diseases
- Parkinson’s disease
There is no cure for oral psoriasis, and not much is known about it, as it is not a very common condition. The best solution to manage the disease is to avoid triggers which can cause flare-ups of the symptoms.
To prevent these flare-ups, you can follow these steps:
- Avoid spicy or very hot foods and drinks.
- Quit smoking completely.
- Use mouth rinses that lower the acidity in your mouth.
- Practice good oral hygiene.
- Engage in stress-free activities as much as possible.
Take away message
Psoriasis can affect any part of the skin, including your tongue and inside of your mouth. It is a chronic condition with no known cure. The only way to manage it is to relieve the symptoms.
You should avoid triggers like stress or injuries, which can flare-up symptoms for oral psoriasis and make it difficult to eat and drink.
The medications prescribed for skin psoriasis also helps in managing oral psoriasis. You can try simple home remedies like mouth rinses etc. to prevent any discomfort.
Since psoriasis causes visible lesions on your skin, you may feel tempted to isolate yourself from the world and lean into depression. If you start feeling like this at any time, contact your doctor or a counselor for support or join any social support groups, to help deal with your situation.