Psoriasis: Signs and symptoms

Psoriasis: Signs and symptoms

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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.
                plaque psoriasis Plaque psoriasis: This type of psoriasis often causes thick patches of skin that are covered with silvery-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 clear up in a few weeks or months without treatment.
  • Spots may appear where the person had plaque psoriasis.

                guttate psoriasisGuttate psoriasis: This type of 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.
If pus-filled bumps appear all over the body, get the person to a hospital right away. The person’s life may be in danger.

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.
                pustular psoriasisPustular psoriasis: This type of 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. 

                inverse psoriasis Inverse psoriasis: This type of psoriasis develops in areas where skin touches skin, such as the armpit.*

Erythrodermic psoriasis

(also called exfoliative psoriasis)

  • Skin looks like it is burned.
  • Most (or all) of the skin on the body turns bright red.
  • Body cannot maintain its normal temperature of 98.6° F. Person gets very hot or very cold.
  • Heart beats too fast.
  • Intense itching.
  • Intense pain.

If it looks like a person has erythrodermic psoriasis, get the person to a hospital right away. The person’s life may be in danger.

                erythrodermic psoriasisErythrodermic psoriasis: This type of psoriasis can cause the skin to look like it is badly burned.**

Learn more about psoriasis:

Top three (3) images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

*Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004;51:731-8.

**Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol 2008;58:826-50.

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