The most common symptom of psoriasis is a skin rash, but it’s actually a serious autoimmune disease. The rash can be a red, dot-like rash; fiery crimson-colored lesions in the folds of the skin; or scaly patches that itch, crack, and bleed. It most commonly appears on the elbows, knees, and scalp, but it can show up anywhere on the body including the face. Topical treatments or oral medications are typically used to treat the disease depending on how the treatments respond to the individual’s skin.
Psoriasis Symptoms and Treatment for Affected Areas
Psoriasis is an incredibly varied disease. It can present with only a mild rash that isn’t easily noticed, or it can present with significant areas of the skin covered in a painful rash. Scalp psoriasis is less noticeable but can be more difficult to treat with a topical cream. Psoriasis on the face can have a stigmatizing effect and almost always involves a rash on other parts of the body as well. Because facial skin is more sensitive, different types of psoriasis treatment may be considered. Some topical steroids can cause shininess and enlarged capillaries with long-term use on the face.
Types of Psoriasis
There are five distinct types of psoriasis:
- Plaque Psoriasis (Psoriasis Vulgaris) – About 80% of all psoriasis sufferers get this form of the disease. It appears as inflamed, red lesions covered by silvery-white scales.
- Guttate Psoriasis – This form of psoriasis appears as small, red, dot-like spots, usually on the trunk or limbs. It occurs most frequently among children and young adults and is often in response to some other health problem or environmental trigger, such as strep throat, tonsillitis, stress, or injury to the skin.
- Inverse Psoriasis – This type of psoriasis appears as bright-red lesions that are smooth and shiny. It is usually found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, and in skin folds around the genitals and buttocks.
- Pustular Psoriasis – Pustular psoriasis looks like white blisters filled with pus surrounded by red skin. It can appear in a limited area of the skin or all over the body. The pus is made up of white blood cells and is not infectious. Triggers for pustular psoriasis include overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, irritating topical treatments, stress, infections, and sudden withdrawal from systemic (treating the whole body) medications.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis – One of the most inflamed forms of psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis looks like fiery, red skin covering large areas of the body that shed in white sheets instead of flakes. This form of psoriasis is usually very itchy and may cause some pain. Triggers for erythrodermic psoriasis include severe sunburn, infection, pneumonia, medications, or abrupt withdrawal from systemic psoriasis treatment.
More Facts and Info
In people with psoriasis, the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth of skin cells. More than just an unsightly and irritating skin rash, psoriasis increases risk for other serious health conditions. These include psoriatic arthritis, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, hypertension, obesity and depression. The National Psoriasis Foundation urges people with psoriasis to work with their doctors to watch for the potential onset of any health issues related to psoriasis. Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the country, affecting approximately 7.5 million Americans. Genetics and the immune system play a major role in the disease. It is not contagious.
When to See the Doctor for Psoriasis Treatment
There is no cure for psoriasis, but many treatment options are available. Treatment is individualized for each person and depends on the severity of the disease, the type of psoriasis, the affected area, and how the person reacts to certain treatments. For cases that fail to respond to topical treatment and oral medications—or for other individual reasons—photodynamic therapy is another popular treatment for psoriasis. Other options may be prescribed for severe, treatment-resistant cases.
Like many diseases, psoriasis symptoms can also change over time. If your normal psoriasis treatment has stopped working or may be creating serious side effects, it’s time to see a dermatologist. Don’t rely on generalized treatment advice. Only by talking to a certified dermatologist can you develop a personalized plan based on your experience with psoriasis.
*Results may vary per patient.
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