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Types of Psoriasis: What You Need to Know

Types of Psoriasis: What You Need to Know

One common skin condition is psoriasis. Data shows that 125 million people suffer from psoriasis worldwide. But what is psoriasis and what are the most prevalent types of this condition? Read on.

What is Psoriasis?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that occurs when skin cells are produced too quickly which causes them to pile up and create patches on the skin.

Psoriasis can appear on any part of the body but most commonly affects the areas such as:

  • Knees
  • Elbow
  • Scalp

Patches on the skin caused by psoriasis appear to be dry and scaly, and usually burns or stings. However, these patches can alternately flare up and subside for some periods.

Types of psoriasis can be distinguished from one another based on how they look and where they appear on the body. However, it’s possible for one person to develop more than one kind of psoriasis.

Types of Psoriasis

There are several types of psoriasis that appear on different parts of the body. Your healthcare provider can help determine which type of psoriasis you have in order to determine which type of treatment will be best for you. Below are the types of psoriasis and their individual characteristics:

Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis is the most prevalent type of psoriasis. This disease appears as raised, red, and thick patches of skin covered with a silvery build-up of dead skin. These patches differ in size and most often appear on the lower back, elbows, knees, or scalp. They often itch, and they can crack and bleed.

Guttate Psoriasis

This type of psoriasis is the second most common type, next to plaque psoriasis. It’s characterized by multiple, small, and drop-shaped lesions that usually appear on a person’s trunk or limbs. Guttate psoriasis mostly affects children or young adults, and it’s usually triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat.

Inverse Psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis or intertriginous psoriasis usually affects folds of the body like the groin or buttocks. It appears as very red and smooth lesions that worsen through friction or sweat.

Pustular Psoriasis

This rare form of psoriasis primarily affects the hands and feet, causing painful blisters and scaly skin that’s easily prone to cracking

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

This type of psoriasis is the most uncommon yet most dangerous type of psoriasis causing most areas of the skin to appear extremely red and “burnt.” Erythrodermic psoriasis can be life-threatening if left untreated.

How so? The skin, the largest organ of your body, plays an integral role in managing your body temperature, keeping you hydrated, and more importantly, protecting you against germs and other harmful toxins. Erythrodermic psoriasis affects your skin’s functions, making you vulnerable to other diseases.

If not managed, this type of psoriasis can lead to fatal outcomes due to hypothermia, sepsis, pneumonia, shock, kidney failure, and heart failure, among others.

Nail Psoriasis

This type of psoriasis affects primarily your nails on both feet and hands. It causes abnormal growth and discoloration. One of the signs and symptoms is the affected nails separating from the bed and may cause the nail to more easily disintegrate.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Like other types of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis is painful and uncomfortable, causing joints to become swollen. Sometimes the joint symptoms are the only symptom that become noticeable. Other times, its nail changes. It can make movement difficult as it causes stiffness and is a progressive condition that causes serious, lifelong damage.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

Symptoms can vary depending on the type of psoriasis a person has. However, the most common signs and symptoms of psoriasis are the following:

  • Skin that’s dry, itchy, and prone to cracking
  • Nails that appear to be thicker or ridged
  • Stiff joints
  • Skin that’s red and scaly

Causes of Psoriasis

The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown up to this very day. However, scientists and doctors now know that a person’s immune system and genes can influence the development of psoriasis in a person.

If someone in your family has psoriasis, then there’s a greater chance that you’ll develop this disease. But, psoriasis isn’t passed from one person to another because it’s not a communicable disease.

Psoriasis flare-ups are usually caused by “triggers”, such as:

  • Stress
  • Dry or cold climates
  • Alcohol consumption (especially excessive amounts)
  • Skin injuries
  • Infections
  • Smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke
  • Taking medications like lithium, prednisone, and hydroxychloroquine

Key Takeaways

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes red, itchy, and scaly patches on the skin. If you suspect that you have psoriasis, it’s best to consult with your health practitioner before attempting to treat your affected skin.

Learn more about Skin Health here.

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

Sources

Skin conditions, https://medlineplus.gov/skinconditions.html, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Psoriatic arthritis, https://www.psoriasis.org/content/statistics#:~:text=According%20to%20current%20studies%2C%20more,psoriasis%20also%20develop%20psoriatic%20arthritis, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Psoriasis, https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/what, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

About Psoriasis, https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Psoriasis symptoms and causes, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Plaque, https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/types/plaque, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Guttate psoriasis, https://dermnetnz.org/topics/guttate-psoriasis/, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Psoriasis types, https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/types/inverse, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Erthrodermic, https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/types/erythrodermic, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Psoriasis causes, https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/what/causes, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Psoriasis diagnosis and treatment, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355845, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Psoriasis symptoms and causes, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Picture of the author
Medical reviewed by Dr. John Paul Abrina, M.D.
Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos
Updated Dec 23, 2020
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