The 7 Types of Psoriasis

Knowing which kind of psoriasis you have helps you and your doctor make a treatment plan. Most people only have one type at a time. Sometimes, after your symptoms go away, a new form of psoriasis will crop up in response to a trigger.

Here's how you can spot the 7 types of psoriasis.

Plaque Psoriasis

This is the most common type. About 8 in 10 people with psoriasis have this kind. You may hear your doctor call it "psoriasis vulgaris."

Plaque psoriasis causes raised, inflamed, red skin covered with silvery, white scales. These patches may itch and burn. It can appear anywhere on your body, but often pops up in these areas:

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Scalp
  • Lower back

Guttate Psoriasis

This type often starts in children or young adults. It happens in less than 2% of cases.

Guttate psoriasis causes small, pink-red spots on your skin. They often appear on your:

  • Trunk
  • Upper arms
  • Thighs
  • Scalp

Triggers include:

  • Upper respiratory infection such as strep throat or tonsillitis
  • Stress
  • Skin injury
  • Certain drugs such as beta-blockers

This type of psoriasis may go away within a few weeks, even without treatment. Some cases, though, are more stubborn and require treatment.

Inverse Psoriasis

This type shows up as areas that are bright red, smooth, and shiny, but don't have scales. It's usually found in these locations:

  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Under the breasts
  • Skin folds around the genitals and buttocks

Inverse psoriasis may worsen with sweating and rubbing. A buildup of yeast may trigger it.

Pustular Psoriasis

This kind of psoriasis is uncommon and mostly appears in adults. It causes pus-filled bumps (pustules) surrounded by red skin. These may look infectious, but are not.

This type may show up on one area of your body, such as the hands and feet. Sometimes it covers most of your body, which is called "generalized" pustular psoriasis. When this happens it can be very serious, so get immediate medical attention.

Generalized pustular psoriasis can cause:

Triggers include:

  • Topical medicine (ointments you put on your skin) or systemic medicine (drugs that treat your whole body), especially steroids
  • Suddenly stopping systemic drugs or strong topical steroids that you used over a large area of your body
  • Getting too much ultraviolet (UV) light without using sunscreen
  • Pregnancy
  • Infection
  • Stress
  • Exposure to certain chemicals

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Erythrodermic Psoriasis

This type is the least common, but it's very serious. It affects most of your body and causes widespread, fiery skin that appears burned. You might also have:

If you have these symptoms, see your doctor right away. You may need to get treated in a hospital. This type of psoriasis can cause severe illness from protein and fluid loss. You may also develop an infection, pneumonia, or congestive heart failure.

Triggers include:

Erythrodermic psoriasis may also happen if your psoriasis is hard to control.

Nail Psoriasis

Up to half of those with psoriasis have nail changes. This is even more common in people who have psoriatic arthritis, which affects your joints.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pitting of your nails
  • Tender, painful nails
  • Separation of the nail from the bed
  • Color changes (yellow-brown)
  • Chalk-like material under your nails

You're also more likely to also have a fungal infection.

Psoriatic Arthritis

This is a condition where you have both psoriasis and arthritis (joint inflammation). In 70% of cases, people have psoriasis for about 10 years before developing psoriatic arthritis. About 90% of people with it also have nail changes. The most common symptoms are:

  • Painful, stiff joints that are worse in the morning and after rest
  • Sausage-like swelling of the fingers and toes
  • Warm joints that may be discolored
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on November 19, 2014

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology: "Psoriasis."

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Types of Psoriasis," "Specific Locations: Hands and Feet."

NIAMS: "Psoriasis."

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