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. This type of psoriasis often causes thick patches of skin that are covered with slivery-white scale.
- 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 psoriasis. This type of psoriasis causes small spots that can show up all over 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.
- 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.
When pus-filled bumps cover the body, the person also may have:
- Bright-red skin.
- Been feeling sick and exhausted.
- Severe itching.
- Rapid pulse.
- Loss of appetite.
- Muscle weakness.
Pustular 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. 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 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.