Oral Psoriasis: Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Dr. Ashish Bhora

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ashish Bhora


7 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Oral psoriasis is a painful condition that should be treated without any delay
  • Oral psoriasis can cause inflammation in mouth, cheeks, tongue and gums
  • Antiseptic mouth rinse and topical treatment help cure the psoriasis disease

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that affects both women and men of all ages [1]. Most commonly, it affects the skin on your scalp, knees and elbows, and nails. Among different psoriasis types, oral psoriasis is less common and often overlooked.

Oral or intraoral psoriasis causes red inflammation both inside and outside your mouth, your cheeks, tongue, and sometimes gums. The causes of oral psoriasis disease and its treatments can vary. So, it is vital to understand important facts to manage the disease effectively. Read on to know more about this condition.

What is Oral Psoriasis?

The common perception of psoriasis is that it is a skin disorder affecting body areas like the scalp, elbows, and knees. Yet, signs of this condition might appear in unexpected areas, such as inside your mouth.

If that's the case, it's known as oral psoriasis. It's not a major medical issue, but it can be uncomfortable. However, getting the proper diagnosis can be challenging. Why? It's so uncommon that most doctors are unaware of it, and some aren't even sure it exists.

Oral Psoriasis Symptoms

Oral Psoriasis Symptoms

Oral psoriasis symptoms might vary; however, they may include the following:

  • Patches with yellow or white elevated borders
  • Itchy patches
  • Lesions that are elevated and scaly on the inside of the cheeks
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Redness of the mouth lining
  • Pustules
  • Peeling gums
  • A burning sensation in the lips
  • Sensitivity following the consumption of acidic or spicy foods
  • Red patches on the tongue's surface
  • Grooves or furrows on the tongue's top

Who is At Risk?

Your body destroys healthy skin cells in psoriasis, which causes your body to overproduce new skin cells. Although environmental and genetic factors play a part, the specific cause of psoriasis is still unknown.

Psoriasis commonly appears in early adulthood, with symptoms between 15 and 25. Psoriasis can affect adults, children, and people of all skin tones.

What Causes Oral Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is associated with the following risk factors, although the causes are not entirely understood:

  • Psoriasis in the family
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Pollution exposure
  • Certain medications
  • Prolonged infections
  • Oral cavity damage

Flare-ups and remissions are the patterns in which psoriasis symptoms manifest. When symptoms flare up, medical attention may be required. However, no symptoms remain during remission.

Therapy can help someone with psoriasis stay in remission for a longer period. Psoriasis triggers are often the cause of flare-ups. Environmental factors, including smoking, illness, stress, and changes in medications, can be among them.

Flare-ups of oral psoriasis are similar to flare-ups of skin psoriasis.

Also Read: Symptoms of Stress

How to Identify?

This can be hard because oral psoriasis is controversial. Several professionals do not feel it is a kind of psoriasis. Instead, they believe that another ailment is to blame for the symptoms.

Your doctor might undertake the following to determine what is causing your symptoms:

  • Ask you about your health history (and the history of your family)
  • Obtain a tiny sample of your oral skin to examine under a microscope
  • Do genetic tests

In addition, your doctor will want to rule out some other illnesses that create similar symptoms, such as:

  • Candida infection
  • Leucoplakia
  • Lichen planus
  • Reiter's syndrome
  • Smoking-related problems, ill-fitting dentures, and other issues

Oral Psoriasis Treatment

Many persons with oral psoriasis may not require treatment as the condition does not bother them. But if it aches, you can begin with these easy steps:

  • Use a solution of salt and lukewarm water to rinse your mouth
  • When your symptoms are acting up, avoid spicy foods
  • Quit smoking if you do

If such home cures do not suffice, consult your doctor. Additional options consist of the following:

  • Mouthwashes that ease pain and reduce oral acidity
  • Steroids and other medications you can apply directly to your mouth's sore spots
  • For severe symptoms, take pills or capsules (such as cyclosporine)

If you are taking medications for skin psoriasis orally, they should also assist with the oral symptoms.

How do Doctors Diagnose Psoriasis?

The diagnosis of oral psoriasis is frequently made by a visual examination. As most people with oral psoriasis are already aware that they have psoriasis, the doctor can often inspect the lesions in the mouth and determine the diagnosis.

A biopsy may be required in some circumstances to assist in the diagnosis. A biopsy is performed by extracting a tiny tissue sample from a lesion. That sample will afterwards be taken to a lab to rule out any other conditions.

How is Oral Psoriasis Different From Other Psoriasis Types?

In case of scalp psoriasis, treatment includes application of medicated shampoos, lotions and creams. To avoid such skin conditions, you can follow simple tips for healthy skin. This includes using moisturizers, avoiding hot baths, and protecting your skin from the sun. With these skincare tips for men and women, you can protect your skin from psoriasis and other skin issues. However, unlike psoriasis on your skin, oral psoriasis is very rare. It can cause immense discomfort owing to its place of occurrence.

It normally affects the internal area of your mouth, which keeps you from eating properly. You may notice red and white patches on your tongue, also known as lesions. You can get treatment for these as soon as you notice them. Moreover, these patches do not spread fast. This allows you sufficient time to consult a specialist.

Top Facts

Before you even ask ‘Is psoriasis curable?’, it is important to understand the problem and symptoms of oral psoriasis more closely. Here are a few facts to bear in mind:

  • In 90% of cases, psoriasis disease is categorized by plaque type of scales [2]. In case of oral psoriasis, it may be difficult to predict the symptoms as they range from mild to medium. However, plaque lesions may not occur in every case of oral psoriasis.
  • The sores inside and outside of your cheeks, mouth, and tongue can cause peeling of the skin on the gums. You may even notice blisters with pus and experience pain or a burning sensation, when eating spicy foods.
  • Skin flare-ups and rashes on the skin are also common in cases of oral psoriasis. They appear along with mouth lesions. Psoriasis is likely to show up on your skin immediately after you get it on the oral surfaces. So, its appearance on the skin can signal the problem and you can treat it as a red flag for oral psoriasis. Even if you have mild symptoms, your doctor may advise a skin test or a genetic test as this condition is an auto-immune disorder.
  • Oral psoriasis can affect your lips in many cases, causing inflammation and bleeding [3]. It can further lead to itching and severe discomfort. However, it heals fast as compared to oral psoriasis occurring in the mouth or on the inside cavity of your cheeks.

How to Cure Oral Psoriasis?

Treatment in general is meant to keep the symptoms at bay and stop the recurrence of psoriasis disease. To treat this condition, you can apply antiseptic creams, follow certain home remedies, and take some basic medications. These techniques reduce the aggravation of symptoms and may ease your discomfort.

Doctors usually prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation and itching, and cyclosporine capsules in case of severe symptoms. In addition to this, here are a few simple home remedies you can follow.

  • Rinse your mouth with a mixture of lukewarm water and salt
  • Avoid eating spicy foods when symptoms are present
  • Stop smoking to reduce the symptoms from worsening

Once you are aware of the symptoms of this desease, it is easier to keep an eye on signs that require you to visit a doctor. Do not hesitate to talk to a specialist near you if you notice such symptoms. Book an online appointment or an in-person consult with a dermatologist on Bajaj Finserv Health. This way you can address oral psoriasis before it worsens and maintain your oral health.

Published on 7 Dec 2021Last updated on 28 Apr 2023
  1. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/204417/9789241565189_eng.pdf.psoriasis?sequence=1
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6944151/
  3. https://www.karger.com/Article/Fulltext/444850

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Ashish Bhora

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ashish Bhora




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