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Psoriasis

What you see and feel depends on the type of psoriasis you have. You may have just a few of the signs and symptoms listed below, or you may have many.

 

Plaque Psoriasis (also called psoriasis vulgaris)

  • Raised reddish patches on the skin called plaque (plak)
  • Patches may be covered with a silvery-white coating, which dermatologists call scale
  • Patches can appear anywhere on the skin
  • Most patches appear on the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp
  • Patches can itch
  • Scratching the itchy patches often causes the patches to thicken
  • Patches vary in size and can appear as separate patches or join together to cover a large area
  • Nail problems — pits in the nails, crumbling nail, nail falls off
Image Plaque psoriasis often causes thick patches of skin that are covered with slivery-white scale.
 

Guttate Psoriasis

  • Small, red spots (usually on the trunk, arms, and legs but can appear on the scalp, face, and ears).
  • Spots can show up all over the skin.
  • Spots often appear after an illness, especially strep throat.
  • Spots may appear where the person had plaque psoriasis.
Image Guttate psoriasis causes small spots that can show up all over the skin.
 

Pustular Psoriasis

  • Skin red, swollen, and dotted with pus-filled bumps.
  • Bumps usually appear only on the palms and soles.
  • Soreness and pain where the bumps appear.
  • Pus-filled bumps will dry, and leave behind brown dots and/or scale on the skin.
When pus-filled bumps cover the body, the person also may have:
  • Bright-red skin
  • Been feeling sick and exhausted
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Severe itching
  • Rapid pulse
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle weakness
Image Pustular psoriasis causes pus-filled bumps that usually appear on the foot or hand.
 

Inverse Psoriasis (also called flexural psoriasis or intertriginous psoriasis)

  • Smooth red patches of skin that look raw.
  • Patches only develop where skin touches skin, such as the armpits, around the groin, genitals, and buttocks. Women can develop a red, raw patch under their breasts.
  • Skin feels very sore where inverse psoriasis appears.
Image Inverse psoriasis develops in areas where skin touches skin, such as the armpit.
 

Who gets Psoriasis?

People who get psoriasis usually have one or more person in their family who has psoriasis. Not everyone who has a family member with psoriasis will get psoriasis. But psoriasis is common. In the United States, about 7.5 million people have psoriasis. Most people, about 80%, have plaque psoriasis. Psoriasis can begin at any age. Most people get psoriasis between 15 and 30 years of age. By age 40, most people who will get psoriasis, about 75%, have psoriasis. Another common time for psoriasis to begin is between 50 and 60 years of age. White people get psoriasis more often than other races. Infants and young children are more likely to get inverse psoriasis and guttate psoriasis.

What causes Psoriasis?

Scientists are still trying to learn everything that happens inside the body to cause psoriasis. We know that psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot get psoriasis from swimming in the same pool or having sex. Scientists have learned that a person’s immune system and genes play important roles. It seems that many genes must interact to cause psoriasis. Scientists also know that not everyone who inherits the genes for psoriasis will get psoriasis. It seems that a person must inherit the “right” mix of genes. Then the person must be exposed to a trigger. Many people say that their psoriasis began after they experienced one of these common psoriasis triggers:

  • A stressful event
  • Strep throat
  • Taking certain medicines, such as lithium or medicine to prevent malaria
  • Cold, dry weather
  • A cut, scratch, or bad sunburn

Outcome

Psoriasis is a chronic (long-lasting) disease of the immune system. It cannot be cured. This means that most people have psoriasis for life. By teaming up with a dermatologist who treats psoriasis, you can find a treatment plan that works for you. Dermatologists encourage their patients who have psoriasis to take an active role in managing this disease. By taking an active role, you can reduce the effects that psoriasis has on your quality of life.

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