Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to
appear on the skin.
Psoriasis typically affects the outside of the elbows, knees or scalp, though it can
appear on any location.
While scientists do not know what exactly causes psoriasis, we do know that the
immune system and genetics play major roles in its development. Usually,
something triggers psoriasis to flare. The skin cells in people with psoriasis grow
at an abnormally fast rate, which causes the buildup of psoriasis lesions.
Psoriasis is not contagious. It is not something you can "catch" or that others can catch from you. Psoriasis lesions are not infectious.
What type of psoriasis do I have?
There are five types of psoriasis.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease and appears as raised,
red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells. These
patches or plaques most often show up on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower
back. They are often itchy and painful, and they can crack and bleed.
Guttate [GUH-tate] psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that appears as small, dot-like
lesions. Guttate psoriasis often starts in childhood or young adulthood, and can
be triggered by a strep infection. This is the second-most common type of
psoriasis, after plaque psoriasis. About 10 percent of people who get psoriasis
develop guttate psoriasis.
Inverse psoriasis shows up as very red lesions in body folds, such as behind the
knee, under the arm or in the groin. It may appear smooth and shiny. Many
people have another type of psoriasis elsewhere on the body at the same time.
Pustular [PUHS-choo-lar] psoriasis in characterized by white pustules (blisters
of noninfectious pus) surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood
cells. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious. Pustular psoriasis can occur on
any part of the body, but occurs most often on the hands or feet.
Erythrodermic [eh-REETH-ro-der-mik] psoriasis is a particularly severe form of
psoriasis that leads to widespread, fiery redness over most of the body. It can
cause severe itching and pain, and make the skin come off in sheets. It is rare,
occurring in 3 percent of people who have psoriasis during their life time. It
generally appears on people who have unstable plaque psoriasis.
Individuals having an erythrodermic psoriasis flare should see a doctor
immediately. This form of psoriasis can be life-threatening.
Where does psoriasis show up?
Psoriasis can show up anywhere—on the eyelids, ears, mouth and lips, skin folds,
hands and feet, and nails. The skin at each of these sites is different and requires
Common areas of the body where psoriasis symptoms occur:
Scalp psoriasis can be very mild, with slight, fine scaling. It can also be very
severe with thick, crusted plaques covering the entire scalp. Psoriasis can extend
beyond the hairline onto the forehead, the back of the neck and around the ears.
Facial psoriasis most often affects the eyebrows, the skin between the nose and
upper lip, the upper forehead and the hairline. Psoriasis on and around the face
should be treated carefully because the skin here is sensitive.
Hands, Feet and Nails
Treat sudden flares of psoriasis on the hands and feet promptly and carefully. In
some cases, cracking, blisters and swelling accompany flares. Nail changes occur
in up to 50 percent of people with psoriasis and at least 80 percent of people
with psoriatic arthritis.
The most common type of psoriasis in the genital region is inverse psoriasis, but
other forms of psoriasis can appear on the genitals, especially in men. Genital
psoriasis requires careful treatment and care.
Inverse psoriasis can occur in skin folds such as the armpits and under the
breasts. This form of psoriasis is frequently irritated by rubbing and sweating.
Learn more »
How severe is my psoriasis?
Psoriasis can be mild, moderate or severe. Severity is based on how much of your
body is affected by psoriasis. The entire hand (the palm, fingers and thumb) is
equal to about 1 percent of your body surface area.
However, the severity of psoriasis is also measured by how psoriasis affects a
persons quality of life. For example, psoriasis can have a serious impact on ones daily activities even if it involves a small area, such as the palms of the hands or
soles of the feet.
Mild psoriasis covers less than 3 percent of the body.
Moderate psoriasis covers between 3 and 10 percent of the body.
If psoriasis covers more than 10 percent of your body, it is severe.
Will I develop psoriatic arthritis?
About 11 percent of those diagnosed with psoriasis have also been diagnosed
with psoriatic arthritis. However, approximately 30 percent of people with
psoriasis will eventually develop psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis often may go undiagnosed, particularly in its milder forms.
However, it's important to treat psoriatic arthritis early on to help avoid
permanent joint damage.
Lifestyle and home remedies
To help reduce itching and soothe inflamed skin, try these self-care measures:
• Moisturize your skin at least twice a day. We usually recommend our patients to use a neutral oil like coconut oil, olive oir or vasline to moisturize the skin dail to avoid cracking f the skin.
• Dont scratch. Rather than scratching when you itch, try pressing on the
skin. Cover the itchy area if you can keep from scratching it. For
children, it might help to trim their nails and have them wear gloves at
• Choose mild soaps without dyes or perfumes. Use soap thats
super fatted and non alkaline. Be sure to rinse off the soap completely.
• Wear cool, smooth-textured clothing. Reduce irritation by avoiding
clothing thats rough, tight or scratchy. Also, wear appropriate clothing in
hot weather or during exercise to prevent excessive sweating.
Treat stress and anxiety. Stress and other emotional disorders can worsen
psoriasis. Acknowledging those and trying to improve your emotional health can