Are You Living With Psoriasis? Signs And Symptoms To Look For

Psoriasis is a relatively common but potentially severe autoimmune response disorder that causes the skin cells to replicate many times faster than average. Psoriasis leads to an excess buildup of dry, dead skin that manifests as red patches (similar to a rash) and sometimes with itchy, white scales. It should be recognized that there are five main types of psoriasis, each with unique presenting signs and symptoms. This article will address those presenting differences below. Psoriasis typically develops in individuals between the ages of 15 and 35 but can continue to progress throughout life. 1

Globally, about 125 million people worldwide are affected, with over 8 million diagnosed in the United States alone, according to the World Psoriasis Day consortium. Similar to Eczema, psoriasis is a chronic disease that is prone to flare-ups, meaning that symptoms are likely to present more severely at certain times. The affected skin patches vary in size, ranging from small spots the size of a penny to major outbreaks that can cover large areas of the body. 2

While there is currently not a known cure for psoriasis, it is important to understand that a diagnosis does not mean you are helpless. There is a variety of both long and shorter-term treatments (including both prescription and homeopathic) that can reduce the severity of presenting symptoms as well as the frequency of flare-ups.

It’s crucial that you understand the different types of psoriasis to look for and how those symptoms will likely present themselves. 3

Signs And Symptoms Of Psoriasis Types

As mentioned earlier, there are a total of five more specific diagnoses that fall under the blanket term psoriasis. Although many people only suffer from a single type of psoriasis, it’s important to fully consider the symptoms of each type, as some individuals do have more than one type simultaneously.

Plaque Psoriasis

This is by far the most common form of psoriasis, with between 80 and 90% of total cases falling under this variation according to Healthline. The most notable symptom for plaque psoriasis is the commonly recognized red skin patches or lesions that can often be covered with white or silver scales. Usually, these patches present as itchy, or even painful, and can appear anywhere on the body. Cases of plaque psoriasis are also occasionally documented on the inside of the mouth. Outbreaks vary in size and can appear anywhere from a few small, localized patches to a more severe outbreak, including many plaque sites. 4

Guttate Psoriasis

Commonly triggered by bacterial infections (most commonly strep throat), guttate psoriasis presents differently than the more common plaque psoriasis in that the lesions are much smaller and less pronounced. They are often shaped in small spots, sometimes shaped like drops of liquid, and most often appear on the legs, torso, arms, or scalp. Guttate psoriasis is the most likely type to affect children and young adults. 5

Inverse Psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis is most commonly found in places of the body that are more prone to friction from rubbing or sweating. These areas include areas under the genitals, breasts, or armpits. Sometimes less commonly identified than plaque psoriasis, inverse psoriasis presents differently in the sense that, instead of a thick, layered plaque buildup seen in other types, the rash is usually smooth. The infection can be quite severe and is thought to be triggered commonly as a result of fungal infections. 6

Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis is a severe type that spreads quickly and can present in either small, localized areas or more broadly. Often found on the hands and feet, pustular psoriasis takes the appearance of blisters filled with pus and can appear and recede in very short time frames. The pustules (blisters) contain a yellow or off white colored puss that is white blood cells as a result of the immune response. This type of psoriasis is more rarely seen than most other types and has a unique set of potential symptoms that includes fever, chills, and even diarrhea. 7

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

Erythrodermic psoriasis is the least common of the types, accounting for less than 3 percent of all diagnosed cases of psoriasis. More similar in appearance to a burn than the plaque buildups associated with some of the more common types, erythrodermic psoriasis is usually considered to be more severe when considering the presenting symptoms. The skin of an individual suffering from this type will often look bright red and burned, appearing in more significant rashes than the small scales associated with plaque psoriasis. Further complications, including swelling of the ankles and hands can occur from the body retaining fluids due to a decreased ability to maintain internal body temperature. The most severe cases can require hospitalization for everything from uncontrollable shivering to pneumonia and even heart failure. Triggers for this type of psoriasis include excessive long term alcohol consumption, adverse reactions to steroids like cortisone, or even sunburn. 8


Psoriasis is a wide-ranging condition that can present with a number of different signs and symptoms depending on the specific type. It is important to consider the various specifics of each type; the severity, duration, and potential for spread are unique in each case. People of all ages should be aware of what to look for; age doesn’t seem to play a huge role in aquiring the condition and most often initially presents in those under the age of 35. There are also a number of triggers and risk factors you should be familiar with, which you can find more information on right here at Psoriasis affects a significant number globally, and thus it is relatively likely that you or someone you care about may develop psoriasis or even already be living with it. As with anything in the medical realm, a broad understanding of the condition and what to look for often makes the difference being able to detect early and begin mitigation strategies.

[1] About psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in children [2] Psoriasis Statistics [3] Psoriasis Diagnosis and Treatment [4] About Psoriasis [5] Guttate Psoriasis [6] Psoriasis Symptoms [7] Pustular psoriasis: What you need to know [8] Erythrodermic Psoriasis

Written by Samuel Hill