Pustular Psoriasis

If you have a sudden breakout of small, raised white or yellow bumps or blisters on skin that's become sore and red, you may have pustular psoriasis.

Pustular Psoriasis Photo

Pustular psoriasis. Note the clearly defined, raised bumps on the skin that are filled with pus (pustules). The skin under and around these bumps is red.

This is a very rare skin disease known for its pus-filled blisters that dot the skin. It can appear with no warning, and it affects men just as often as women. Other people can't catch the disease from you. It's a type of psoriasis, a skin disease marked by scaly red skin that can be itchy and painful.

Sometimes, pustular psoriasis can cause pus-filled blisters to cover large portions of your body. Other times, the blisters only appear on certain body parts. Often, the disease can be painful, but some people only have skin symptoms without pain.

Types of Pustular Psoriasis

The disease can mimic normal psoriasis at first: You'll have patches of red skin with raised scales that itch or burn. Once the blisters appear, it becomes known as pustular psoriasis.

Some pustular psoriasis breakouts are sudden and severe (acute), while others affect people many times over months or years (chronic). Still more people have symptoms that fall between these two extremes.

There are several types of the disease. You can tell which type you have based on your symptoms and the areas of skin that are covered with blisters.

Von Zumbusch pustular psoriasis. This is the most severe form of the disease. Its breakouts are sudden. It appears out of nowhere and can cover large areas of your body with painful red skin and pus-filled blisters within a day or two.

When you have this type, you'll also have fever and chills, and you'll feel tired and itchy. You may also have joint pain and nausea. This type of pustular psoriasis may threaten your life, so see your doctor at once. Doctors often send their patients to the hospital for treatment. Older people tend to have more severe cases.

Annular (ring-shaped) pustular psoriasis. This is a milder form of the disease. You might not have symptoms other than skin blisters, but it could return after you get better. Blisters appear as raised, pus-filled rings on the torso, arms, and legs. The centers of the rings heal before the edges do.


Pustular psoriasis is rare in children, but when they do get it, they’re most likely to have this type. Emotional stress tends to cause flares within hours. This type of psoriasis is more easily treated with steroid creams or ointments.

Palmoplantar pustular psoriasis. If you have pus-filled blisters on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet, you likely have this form of the disease. It can return several times over months or years. It's more common in women than men. Sometimes, it causes the joints or bones to become inflamed.

Acropustulosis. This rare form of the disease causes pus-filled blisters to form on the tips of your fingers and toes, often beneath the nails. It's more likely to affect your fingers than toes, and it often happens after you get injured. The blisters can make your nails become deformed or fall off. In severe cases, the finger or toe bones may change shape or become deformed.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on January 29, 2017



Medscape: “Pustular Psoriasis Overview of Pustular Psoriasis.

National Psoriasis Foundation: “Pustular Psoriasis.

American Academy of Dermatology: “What Psoriasis Looks Like.”

Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance: “Pustular Psoriasis.”


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