Hidden Facts about Psoriasis – A Common Autoimmune Disorder

by | Last updated Dec 2, 2022 | Published on Aug 24, 2022 | Medical Billing

Psoriasis – A Common Autoimmune Disorder
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A chronic auto-immune disorder, psoriasis causes the rapid buildup of skin cells that leads to scaling on the surface of the skin. The condition is the result of a sped-up skin production process. Generally, skin cells grow deep in the skin, slowly rise to the surface and eventually fall off. However, in people with psoriasis, the production process may occur within a few days and as a result the skin cells don’t have time to fall off. This rapid overproduction may lead to the buildup of skin cells.

The thick, scaly plaques that build up on the surface of the skin may cause inflammation and redness. Typically, the thick, scaly plaques may develop on joints (like elbows and knees) and other parts of the body including the hands, feet, neck, scalp and face. The exact factors that tend to cause psoriasis are unclear. However, genetics and the immune system play a crucial role. If left untreated, the condition can cause severe complications like temporary skin color changes, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity and other autoimmune diseases(like celiac disease, sclerosis and the inflammatory bowel diseases). Dermatologists and other specialists treating this autoimmune disorder can rely on experienced medical billing and coding companies to meet their claim submission tasks.

Reports suggest that psoriasis affects about 3 percent of the United States adult population – that is, more than 7.5 million US adults.

The exact cause of psoriasis isn’t fully understood as it is an immune system problem where infection-fighting cells attack healthy skin cells by mistake.The condition is not contagious. Many people who are predisposed to psoriasis may not experience any specific symptoms for years until the disease is triggered by some environmental factor. Common psoriasis triggers include – infections, heavy alcohol consumption, usage of certain medications (including lithium, high blood pressure drugs and antimalarial drugs), injury to the skin (such as a cut or scrape, a bug bite, or severe sunburn),smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke and rapid withdrawal of oral or injected cortico steroids.

Types of Psoriasis and Symptoms

There are different types of psoriasis which include – plaque psoriasis, nail psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis and erythrodermic psoriasis. Symptoms of this condition can start at any age, but often start between ages 15 and 25. Men, women, and children of all skin colors can get psoriasis.The signs and symptoms of the condition may vary from person to person and depend on the type of psoriasis. Red, raised, inflamed patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales are one of the early symptoms of this condition.

Other related symptoms include –

  • Whitish-silver scales or plaques on the red patches or gray scales on purple and brown patches
  • Thick, pitted nails
  • Soreness around patches
  • Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
  • Painful, swollen joint
  • Itching and burning sensation around patches
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • Cyclic rashes (that flare for a few weeks or months and then subside)

However, not every person will experience all these symptoms. In certain cases, people will experience completely different symptoms if they have a less common type of psoriasis.In most cases, people with this condition tend to go through “cycles” of symptoms,with specific periods of remission that last for an average of 1-12 months at a time.The condition may cause severe symptoms for a few days or weeks and then the symptoms may fully disappear and may be almost unnoticeable. But, if within a few weeks or days if any psoriasis trigger occurs, the condition may flare up again.

How to Diagnose and Treat Psoriasis

Diagnosis of this autoimmune disorder involves a medical history analysis and detailed examination of the skin, scalp and nails. Symptoms of psoriasis are typically evident and easy to distinguish from other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. In addition, it is important to inform the physician if any members in the family have the condition. However, if the symptoms remain unclear, the physician may take a small sample of skin (biopsy) for detailed lab examination. This can help determine the type of psoriasis and rule out other possible disorders or infections. Treatment for psoriasis helps reduce the growth of skin cells and remove scales. The type of treatment to be administered may depend on the type of psoriasis, its severity and its responsiveness to previous treatment and self-care measures. A combination of systemic medications (methotrexate, cyclosporine, biologics, retinoids), oral or injected medications, topical therapies (creams and ointments) and light therapy (like ultraviolet (UV) or natural light) can reduce plaques.

ICD- 10 Codes for Psoriasis

Dermatology medical billing and coding can be complex. Dermatologists or other specialists diagnosing the causes, symptoms and providing treatment for psoriasis patients are reimbursed for their services. ICD-10 codes used to indicate a diagnosis of psoriasis include –

  • L40 Psoriasis
  • L40.0 Psoriasis vulgaris
  • L40.1 Generalized pustular psoriasis
  • L40.2 Acrodermatitis continua
  • L40.3 Pustulosis palmaris et plantaris
  • L40.4 Guttate psoriasis
  • L40.5 Arthropathic psoriasis
  • L40.50 Arthropathic psoriasis, unspecified
  • L40.51 Distal interphalangeal psoriatic arthropathy
  • L40.52 Psoriatic arthritis mutilans
  • L40.53 Psoriatic spondylitis
  • L40.54 Psoriatic juvenile arthropathy
  • L40.59 Other psoriatic arthropathy
  • L40.8 Other psoriasis
  • L40.9 Psoriasis, unspecified

As with other chronic diseases, psoriasis may affect different areas of life other than physical health. Psoriasis may affect a person’s emotional health, relationships, and capacity to handle stress.Getting diagnosed with psoriasis can be challenging at times, but with the right approach, people can reduce flare-ups. Incorporating serious changes like – managing or controlling the level of stress, consuming a nutrient-rich diet, and losing excess body weight can help ease symptoms of psoriasis and reduce flare-ups in the long run.

Correctly reporting and documenting skin conditions on medical claims can be complex. Outsourced medical billing services from an experienced provider can help physicians ensure correct billing and coding. Expert coders can correctly assign the right medical codes for the documented condition. This in turn helps in timely and accurate billing and claims submission.

Rajeev Rajagopal

Rajeev Rajagopal, the President of OSI, has a wealth of experience as a healthcare business consultant in the United States. He has a keen understanding of current medical billing and coding standards.

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