Psoriasis is a lifelong disease of the immune system that affects the skin. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that most commonly causes red skin patches, often covered with silver flaky scales, which form in areas where new skin cells grow faster than normal. Inflammation, pain, and itching can occur. To better understand why this may happen, read "Psoriasis causes and risk factors."
Do you think that you or someone you know may have psoriasis? If so, it could be one or more of the following 5 types of psoriasis:
- Plaque psoriasis: This is the most common type, affecting about 90% of people with psoriasis. It causes red, raised lesions (plaques) that are usually covered with thick silvery, shiny scales. The lesions may appear anywhere but are usually found on the knees, elbows, scalp (scalp psoriasis), and torso. They can also be found on skin folds, nails (nail psoriasis), face, palms, and soles of the feet.
- Guttate psoriasis: This type of psoriasis does not have plaques. Rather, the lesions are red and small and look like drops about 0.5 cm to 1.5 cm in diameter, and typically appear suddenly. It affects nearly 10% of people with psoriasis, making it the second most common type. If you have a strep throat infection when you are a child or an adolescent, it increases your risk of developing guttate psoriasis later in life.
- Pustular psoriasis: Pus-filled, red lesions are the most common symptom of this type of psoriasis. Scales gradually form as the pustular lesions dry up. Pustular psoriasis often appears on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, but it can also appear widespread over the body (called generalized pustular psoriasis).
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: This is a rare form of psoriasis that causes red, inflamed patches that look like sunburn. It often covers 90% or more of the skin. Erythryodermic psoriasis can be life-threatening and usually requires treatment in the hospital, as a large portion of the skin is affected.
- Inverse psoriasis: Inverse psoriasis, also known as flexural psoriasis, occurs in the folds of the skin (the flexures) such as the armpits, the genitals, under breasts, and between the buttocks. These types of plaques tends to be smooth and red instead of the typical raised and scaly appearance.
Do any of these descriptions match skin symptoms you have noticed? It is important to identify symptoms and get a diagnosis from a doctor because psoriasis can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Because psoriasis can be visible to others, those with psoriasis may experience stress and social stigma, and self-esteem can be affected. Psoriasis can end up impacting a person's relationships, work, and school.
And yet, people with psoriasis can effectively treat and manage their condition with the help of their doctor or a dermatologist specializing in psoriasis.