Differentiating Skin Cancer From Psoriasis

Your skin has more value to it than just being a mere piece of appearance. Learning about skin conditions and what deviations it may show are vital for maintaining its health. It is often seen that people confuse the concepts of skin cancer with that of psoriasis and take the same measures to treat both. In this blog, we aim to highlight the differences between these conditions.


It is a chronic skin condition that presents itself with accelerated skin cell production. This heightened activity is the major cause of discolored patch development, often referred to as plaque with silvery-white scales.

However, they may show up as red on paler skin tones or turn purple or brown on darker skin tones. The patchy skin looks distinctive and has soreness, persistent itching, and occasional pain.


Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Plaques with silver/white scales.
  • Dry and cracked skin that is prone to bleeding.
  • Itching or burning sensations
  • Soreness
  • Thick, pitted fingernails

It is difficult to identify psoriasis because of the way it shows up on different kinds of skin tones. On medium ones, it presents as a salmon-colored shade with white lines. A raised red or pink patch is visible on lighter skin.

Skin Cancer

Among all types, skin cancer is the most prevalent form in the United States. It originates from the development of cancerous cells in the skin tissues. The types include:

  • Basal cell cancer (BCC)
  • Squamous cell cancer (SCC)
  • Perilous melanoma


It is not easy to pinpoint skin cancer since symptoms often are subtle changes. However, be on the lookout for:

  • Sores that are not healing
  • Any form of unusual spots or bumps – raised, pearly, waxy, shiny, firm, or crusty
  • Colored patches like deep purple, yellow, black, or even blue

Skin Cancer vs. Psoriasis – Distinguishing Factors


Differentiating between psoriasis and skin cancer is made easy by their hallmark characteristics.

Psoriasis outbreaks are seen in both localized and widespread patterns. They follow episodes of activity and inactivity, making them unpredictable. On the other hand, skin cancer usually grows in sun-exposed areas:

  • Head and face
  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Arms and hands
  • Back

ABCs of Cancer Detection

Here’s how knowing your ABCDEs can help in identifying potential melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: Irregular growth on either side of the spot.
  • Border: Blurred or irregular edges.
  • Color: Multiple colors within a single spot.
  • Diameter: Dot growth larger than 6mm or evolving in size.
  • Evolving: Dynamic changes in the span of weeks or months.

When To Seek Professional Help?

While physical identification markers are beneficial, it is better to get in touch with healthcare professionals for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plans.

Treatment Options

For Psoriasis

Psoriasis, being an autoimmune disease without a cure, offers various treatment avenues to manage symptoms effectively. These include:

  • Topical treatments: Application of prescription creams, lotions, and ointments.
  • Light therapy: Controlled exposure to UV light.
  • Systemic medications: Oral or injected medications for severe cases.

Skin Cancer

The route of treatment for skin cancer depends on size and severity and may involve the following procedures:

  • Surgery: Surgical intervention to remove and prevent spread.
  • Radiation therapy: High-powered energy beams to target cancerous cells.
  • Chemotherapy: IV drugs or topical medications to kill abnormal cell growth.
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT): A combination of medication and laser light.
  • Biological therapy: The body’s natural defense booster to protect from cancer-producing cells.

Questions About Differentiating Skin Cancer From Psoriasis

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Closing Note

Deciphering psoriasis and skin cancer identification markers is crucial for timely medical intervention. Be watchful of any skin changes and seek help immediately. Consulting a healthcare professional with adequate knowledge about the drugs and their effects through clinical trials is one way to be aware of how your treatment is being done. You can trust exceptional healthcare providers like Dr. Salma Saiger, MD, our Principal Investigator at SMS Clinical Research, to guide you. If you want to learn more, call us at (972) 216-5100.

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