Psoriasis symptoms

Lesley Dobson / 18 November 2014

Psoriasis is a skin condition that comes in a number of different forms. All affect the outer layers of the skin in a noticeable way, which can be embarrassing for people with this condition.

Psoriasis can make your skin itch, and can even make your skin split. How badly you have psoriasis varies from person to person. If you have mild psoriasis you may have very few plaques, but if you have severe psoriasis you will develop far more.

Can psoriasis go away?

This condition can appear and then disappear at different times – you may not have it for fairly long periods. However, flare-ups, when it becomes worse, can happen suddenly.

Read more about psoriasis causes and triggers

Find out about treatments for psoriasis

Who gets psoriasis?

Psoriasis affects about two to three percent of the population. That’s around 1.8 million people.

Plaque psoriasis

The most common type of psoriasis is chronic plaque psoriasis. The patches caused by this condition are known as plaques. They can be pink or red, and are coated with silvery-coloured scales that feel rough to touch. These can happen in an area of skin that has been hurt in some way – by scratching, for instance. When this happens it is known as the Köbner phenomenon.
This type of psoriasis often affects the knees, elbows, torso and scalp, although it can appear anywhere on the body.

Scalp psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis affects about 50% of those with chronic plaque psoriasis. Some people just have scalp psoriasis. The symptoms are similar to chronic plaque psoriasis, although this condition can appear similar to severe dandruff. In the worse cases it may cover the scalp, and can cause hair loss.

Flexural psoriasis

Flexural psoriasis is another form of chronic plaque psoriasis. It makes the skin red and sore, but doesn’t cause the rough scales that come with the chronic form. This condition affects areas of the body where there are folds in the skin, including underneath the breasts and in the groin and armpits.

Pustular psoriasis

The most common form of pustular psoriasis (palmoplantar psoriasis) appears on your palms and the soles of your feet. Small spots, filled with fluid (pustules), appear on skin that is red, and slightly sore.

Another, more serious form of pustular psoriasis can appear on skin anywhere on your body. This is more severe, and you will need immediate treatment from a dermatologist.

Nail psoriasis

Nail psoriasis can affect up to 50% of people with psoriasis. The symptoms include small indentations on the outer surface of your nails, and the nail separating from the nail bed underneath, and becoming thicker. You may also have discoloured patches under your nails.

Read more about conditions that can affect your nails

Guttate psoriasis

Symptoms are small round or oval plaques which can appear on different parts of your body. This type of psoriasis can last from a couple of weeks to a few months, and may never reappear.

Erythrodermic psoriasis

Erythema means redness, and this type of psoriasis can cause large areas of your skin’s surface to become red and sore. You may also have a fever. This is a rare type of psoriasis, which can cause serious health problems. If you have this type of psoriasis you need urgent medical treatment, in hospital.

Psoriatic arthropy

If you develop painful, stiff joints you may have psoriatic arthropy. This is a form of arthritis associated with psoriasis. This usually affect the joints at the ends of your fingers and toes.

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