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Psoriasis: What Is It? And What Are the Different Types?

Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 23, 2022

    Psoriasis: What Is It? And What Are the Different Types?

    Many people may find themselves scratching and itching in different parts of their bodies. But how do you know if it’s psoriasis? What are the psoriasis causes you should know about? And are you at risk?

    Understanding Psoriasis Causes

    Psoriasis is a common skin disease that causes red itchy patches on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp, among other places. It is a long-term chronic condition that tends to recur and flare up repeatedly, causing discomfort. 

    The inflammation that psoriasis causes can affect various organs and tissues in the body. Other health problems can arise for those who have psoriasis. 

    Psoriasis skin rashes can take place in any part of the body. But, for the most part, it affects the following: 

    • Elbows
    • Knees
    • Face 
    • Genitals
    • Finger and toenails
    • Lower back area
    • Palm area
    • Feet 
    • Scalp area
    • Inside the mouth area

    Psoriasis causes a person to feel itchy and uncomfortable, and it can affect mental health as well. Many who suffer from psoriasis feel self-conscious about themselves. 

    Psoriasis Causes, Triggers, and Risk Factors

    When an overactive immune system enhances the growth of skin cells, psoriasis takes place. A month is enough time for normal skin cells to grow and shed (fall off). However, with psoriasis, skin cells do this in just three to four days. Instead of shedding, skin cells accumulate on the skin’s surface.

    Many people who are prone to psoriasis may go on for years without experiencing symptoms at all. This disease can be triggered by an external factor such as one or more of the following:

    • Open skin infections
    • Infections affecting the immune system (e.g., strep throat)
    • Stress
    • Cold weather
    • Heavy alcohol consumption
    • Reaction to certain medications (lithium and beta-blockers)

    Other known risk factors are associated with a person’s family history. Having a family member with this condition increases the risk for the children to also develop psoriasis. 


    It is not true that psoriasis causes another person to develop the condition when the two come in contact. People should not be afraid of psoriasis because it is a non-contagious skin condition. Other people who do not have it must not discriminate as well. 

    Psoriasis Signs and Symptoms

    Signs and symptoms may be different for every psoriasis case. The most common ones are: 

    • Red skin patches with thick silvery scales (dandruff-like)
    • Small scaling spots (common in children)
    • Thick ridged nails
    • Dry and cracky skin (that may eventually end up bleeding)
    • Itching, burning or bleeding part of the skin
    • Arthritis

    Different Types of Psoriasis

    As psoriasis can occur in many different sizes, shapes, and forms, other types distinguish one from another. 

    Plaque Psoriasis

    This is the most common type of psoriasis that can be identified through the dryness and redness of the skin patches. These patches are normally covered with silvery scales on top of the area that look like dandruff. A person with this type of psoriasis may feel itching and pain on the knees, elbows, or scalp. 

    psoriasis causes

    Nail Psoriasis

    Even small parts of the skin can get psoriasis. This kind of psoriasis causes abnormal nail growth and discoloration. The nails of people with psoriasis may weaken and detach from the nail bed. In severe circumstances, the nail may also crumble.

    Guttate Psoriasis

    This type is common for children and young adults who have a bacterial infection (like strep throat). Small, drop-shaped scaling lesions appear on the trunk, limbs, and legs.

    Inverse Psoriasis

    Fungal infections cause this type of psoriasis to develop in certain areas like the buttocks and breasts. Smooth areas of red skin develop in inverse psoriasis, which increases with friction and sweating.

    Pustular Psoriasis

    An uncommon type of psoriasis involves pus-filled sores on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. These appear either in large patches (generalized pustular psoriasis) or smaller areas.

    Erythrodermic Psoriasis

    Erythrodermic psoriasis is an uncommon kind of psoriasis that can cover the entire body with red peeling rashes. It makes the person feel intense sensation of itching and burning.

    Psoriatic Arthritis

    This kind of psoriasis is characterized by swollen, painful joints, which are common symptoms of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint and has a wide range of symptoms. It can produce stiffness and increasing joint deterioration, which can lead to permanent joint damage in severe cases.

    Key Takeaways

    Psoriasis causes can come from a variety of triggers. While there is no known cure for this skin condition, psoriasis can still be managed with proper medication. Doctors may recommend topical treatments such as vitamin D creams, topical corticosteroids, and even shampoos. 
    A person with psoriasis can still live a normal life guided by a proper lifestyle and coping behaviors. 

    Learn more about Psoriasis here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 23, 2022

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