Psoriasis was commonly believed to affect only the obvious spots in a person’s body such as the elbows, knees, and scalp. Surprisingly, symptoms of this disease may appear in places you do not expect, including your lips, tongue, and gums. In this case, it is called oral psoriasis. Although it does not require serious medical attention, it may be uncomfortable and be a struggle to get the right diagnosis.
Oral psoriasis is a rare, non-contagious, chronic autoimmune condition that causes cracks to form on your lips, gums, and tongue which is also well-associated with geographic tongue. Geographic tongue is an inflammatory condition that is more likely to occur in people who have psoriasis.
The accumulation of rapid hyperproduction of a person’s skin cells results in red, thickened, scaly patches of skin. Because the body cannot shed these extra skin cells quickly enough, scaly spots or thickened areas called plaques develop. No matter where it occurs, psoriasis is not contagious, so a person cannot pass on the condition to others.
Symptoms Of Oral Psoriasis
The symptoms are often mild and may come and go quickly. It can be hard to tell if you have oral psoriasis because for others, there might be no pain at all. For some, pain and swelling can make it hard to chew and swallow. Although it is well-linked with geographic tongue, not all people with geographic tongue have psoriasis. Doctors don’t even agree on what all the symptoms are.
But in general, experts think that while signs can appear in different spots in your mouth, they are most common on the inside of your cheeks. Oral psoriasis can cause noticeable changes in the color, texture, and feeling of the mouth, tongue, and gums.
You might notice:
- Smooth patches of red skin with yellow or white edges
- Changes in taste
- Blisters with pus
People who have oral psoriasis tend to have symptoms on their skin too, such as thick, scaly patches. The symptoms in your mouth will probably get better or worse along with the symptoms on your skin. So if psoriasis symptoms show up in your mouth, you are likely to have skin flare-ups too.
Causes Of Oral Psoriasis
The cause of psoriasis is not directly known, but there is a genetic link. Having a family member with oral psoriasis does not automatically mean you will experience the same condition. It only indicates you have a slightly higher risk of developing psoriasis than most people.
Actually, only 2–3 percent of these people develop the condition. To develop psoriasis, a person must have at least one of the relevant genes and be exposed to triggers such as stress, illness, medications, alcohol, nicotine or even sunlight.
How To Prevent And Treat Symptoms Of Oral Psoriasis
If you do not have pain or trouble chewing or swallowing, treatment may not be necessary. Your doctor may suggest a wait-and-see approach. However, if the symptoms affect your daily activities, it is best to visit your doctor.
The best preventions are:
- Good oral hygiene
- Antiseptic or alkaline mouthwash
- Do-it-yourself rinse made from baking soda and water
- Avoiding risk factors such as alcohol, smoking, spicy foods, and stress
If these home remedies are insufficient, it is best to consult your doctor. Be sure to talk to your dentist or dermatologist before using any medication against your psoriasis.
If topical medications are not enough, your doctor may suggest the following drugs:
In severe cases, your dentist may want to perform an oral tissue biopsy. While it may not establish that you have oral psoriasis, a biopsy can help diagnose or rule out other conditions, such as cancer.
Only take medications upon your doctor’s prescription.If you are already taking medications for skin psoriasis, they may also help with your oral symptoms.
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 to pursue effective treatment. Make sure to visit your dentist regularly.