Psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells and causes them to grow out of control. The result is that cells build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. These extra skin cells can form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes very painful.
Psoriasis is a chronic disease that is always fluctuating. There is no cure for psoriasis, but treatment can help to manage symptoms. Changing aspects of your lifestyle, such as moisturizing, quitting smoking, and managing stress, may help as well.
Signs of psoriasis are different for everyone, depending on what form of the condition a person might have. Read through our list below to learn how to recognize the symptoms of each type.
The most common form, plaque psoriasis causes dry, raised, red skin lesions (called “plaques”) covered with silvery scales. The plaques might be itchy or painful. There may be few or many. These can pop up anywhere on your body, including the genitals and the soft tissue inside the mouth.
Psoriasis can affect fingernails and toenails, causing pitting, abnormal nail growth, and discoloration. Psoriatic nails might loosen and can even separate from the nail bed—a condition called onycholysis.
Found most commonly in young adults and children, guttate psoriasis is usually triggered by a bacterial infection, such as strep throat. People with this condition might observe small, scale-like lesions on the arms, legs and scalp. These lesions are typically thinner than plaques. A patient may have a single outbreak that goes away on its own or may have repeated episodes.
Inverse psoriasis affects the skin in the armpits, the groin, under the breasts and around the genitals. The most common symptom is smooth patches of red, inflamed skin that worsen with friction and sweating. It can be triggered by fungal infections.
Although uncommon, pustular psoriasis can occur in widespread patches or in smaller areas on your hands, feet or fingertips. It generally develops quickly, with pus-filled blisters appearing just hours after the skin becomes red and tender. The condition can also cause other symptoms throughout the body, such as fever, chills, severe itching and diarrhea.
The least common type, erythrodermic psoriasis can cover your entire body with a red, peeling rash that can itch and burn.
On top of the inflamed, scaly skin that occurs in its other forms, psoriatic arthritis causes swollen, painful joints as well. The condition can cause stiffness and progressive joint damage that in the most serious cases may lead to permanent disfigurement.