Psoriasis Symptoms

There are several types of psoriasis which vary in appearance, severity and location. Typically, people only have one form of psoriasis at a time, although it is not unusual for two different types to occur together. One type may change to another type, or one type may become more severe. Most people find that their psoriasis symptoms go through cycles – causing problems for a few weeks or months, and then easing or stopping.

Plaque psoriasis

This is the most common form of psoriasis, affecting around 90% of people who have psoriasis. It is name after the appearance of the patches which are disc or oval shaped and look like a wall plaque. The plaques are usually pinkish-red in color with well-defined clear edges and covered with silvery white scales. You can have one or more plaques at any one time and often they will merge with other areas and form a larger affected area. The plaques can sometimes have an area around them that looks like a ring and is often mistaken for ringworm. The skin can be itchy and may sometimes bleed. The most commonly affected areas are the knees and elbows but also scalp, hairline and lower back.

Guttate psoriasis

This type often starts in childhood or young adulthood, normally occurring after a streptococcal throat infection, sometimes suddenly appearing a week after the infection. The word guttate comes from the Latin word gutta which means drop. This is because the patches are small (less than 1cm.) and look like small, salmon-pink drops or spots with fine scales. The spots are widespread, usually appearing on the trunk, arms or legs, but sometimes spread to the face, ears and scalp. The spots rarely affect the palms of hands or the soles of feet.

Inverse psoriasis

This is usually found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, around the genitals and buttocks or in other skin folds . It is characterized by large deep red patches that are smooth and shiny without any scales. Sometimes there is a crease in the center of the patch that may be cracked open. Inverse psoriasis is made worse by friction and sweating and so may be particularly worse in hot weather.

Nail psoriasis

Nail psoriasis occurs in about half of the people with plaque psoriasis. It can occur on its own without the skin rash. As the name suggests, it affects your nails causing them to pit, to become discolored and to grow abnormally. Often the nails loosen and separate from the nail bed. In severe cases, the nails may crumble.

Scalp psoriasis

Like nail psoriasis, it can affect about half of people who suffer with plaque psoriasis. It normally affects the back of your head, but it can occur on other parts of the scalp and sometimes may cover the whole scalp. It causes red patches of skin covered in thick silvery-white scales which can look like severe dandruff. Some people find scalp psoriasis extremely itchy, while others have no discomfort. In extreme cases it may cause hair loss, although permanent balding is extremely rare.

Pustular psoriasis

This is an uncommon form of psoriasis and is primarily seen in adults. It is usually localized to particular areas of the body such as hands and feet, but can also affect other areas of the body. It may come on very quickly and spread rapidly. Pustular psoriasis is characterized by small, clearly defined, raised bumps on the skin that are filled with yellowish non-infectious pus. The skin around the pustules can become very red and hot. Other symptoms include feeling unwell and feverishness.

Erythrodermic psoriasis

This is a rare and severe from of psoriasis and is potentially dangerous. It affects most of the body and is characterized by extremely inflamed skin and the shedding of scales in sheets, rather than in smaller flakes. It's often accompanied by severe itching and pain, swelling of ankles, fever and shivering. Anyone with this type of psoriasis should seek medical attention immediately.

These are the psoriasis symptoms and the types of psoriasis that go with them. Read my other articles on the various treatments for psoriasis.