Slide show: Types of psoriasis
Types of psoriasis
Psoriasis occurs when the life cycle of skin cells speeds up, resulting in a rapid buildup of rough, dead skin cells. These skin cells accumulate, forming thick silvery scales and dry, red patches that are sometimes itchy or painful. In some cases, pus-filled blisters appear.
Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas.
Though psoriasis signs and symptoms vary from person to person, psoriasis types are typically identified by their hallmark appearances. Here's a look at psoriasis photos, showing classic signs and symptoms.
Plaque psoriasis, the most common form of psoriasis, causes dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales. The plaques itch or may be painful and can occur anywhere on your body. You may have just a few plaques or many. The skin around your joints may crack and bleed.
Your psoriasis may improve with certain lifestyle measures, such as:
- Taking daily baths
- Applying nonprescription cortisone cream and heavy, ointment-based moisturizer
- Learning and avoiding personal triggers of psoriasis, such as stress
- Avoiding smoking
Moderate or severe cases may require light therapy, prescription steroid creams, topical tar preparations, oral or injected medications (systemic treatment), or a combination of these.
Scalp psoriasis appears as red, itchy areas with silvery-white scales. Psoriasis in children often first appears on the scalp. You may notice flakes of dead skin in your hair or on your shoulders, especially after scratching your scalp. The scaly patches, which may bleed when removed, may extend beyond your hairline.
Treatment options for scalp psoriasis include medicated shampoos, steroid foam or lotion, tar preparations, a topical form of synthetic vitamin D called calcipotriene (Dovonex), phototherapy, and oral medications.
Psoriasis can affect fingernails and toenails, causing pitting, abnormal nail growth and discoloration. Psoriatic nails may become loose and separate from the nail bed (onycholysis). Severe cases may cause the nail to crumble.
Nail psoriasis often accompanies another type of psoriasis, such as plaque psoriasis. Treatment options include oral or injected medications.
Guttate psoriasis is more common in children and young adults and is usually triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. It's marked by small, reddish sores, mainly on the trunk, arms and legs. The sores are covered by a fine scale and aren't as thick as typical plaques are. You may have a single outbreak that goes away on its own, or you may have repeated episodes.
Guttate psoriasis typically responds to treatment, which includes light therapy, prescription steroid creams and oral medications. It may also improve with treatment of the underlying cause or infection, if identified.
Inverse psoriasis causes smooth patches of red, inflamed skin primarily in the armpits, groin, under the breasts and around the genitals.
Treatment options include low-potency topical corticosteroids or topical calcineurin inhibitors.
Pustular psoriasis can occur in widespread patches or in smaller areas on your hands, fingertips or feet, as shown here. It can develop quickly, with pus-filled blisters appearing just hours after your skin becomes red and tender. The blisters clear up within several days, but recur. Possible causes include medication withdrawal and infection.
Small patches of pustular psoriasis may be treated with a steroid cream. Larger patches usually require prescription oral medication, elimination of the underlying cause, if possible, and other topical and systemic therapies. Light therapy may be useful once the blisters resolve and the skin is less irritated.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is the least common type. It can cover your entire body with a red, peeling rash that can itch or burn intensely. It may be triggered by corticosteroids or other medications, severe sunburn, or another type of psoriasis.
Treatment of erythrodermic psoriasis usually requires prescription oral medication, medicated wet dressings and topical steroids. Combination therapies and hospitalization are often necessary for severe cases.
Last Updated Mar 17, 2020