Psoriasis is a common skin disorder affecting 2% of the population. It occurs equally in men and women, at any age. The condition is not infectious, and is sometimes itchy. Psoriasis does not scar the skin.
Types of Psoriasis
There are several different types of psoriasis, all of which have different characteristics. Someone with psoriasis will usually only have one type of psoriasis at any time, although when that clears it can act as a trigger leading to another type appearing.
Thick, red patches of skin are covered by flaky, silver-white scales. This is the most common type of psoriasis, and although it can affect any part of the body it is usually seen on the elbows, knees and scalp. The plaques can be itchy and/or sore, and can split and bleed.
Small, pink-red, scaly teardrop-shaped spots affect the arms, legs, and middle of the body. It is an uncommon form of psoriasis which develops suddenly, usually after an infection (in particular a streptococcal throat infection) and affects children and young adults. It usually disappears completely, although some people do then go onto develop plaque psoriasis.
This appears as a tender red rash in the folds of the skin such as the armpits, buttocks and groin. It can be extremely painful and causes intense itching, both of which are made worse by perspiration and friction which occurs in these areas.
This can affect part or all of the scalp, and causes thick red patches of skin which are covered by silver-white scales like plaque psoriasis. It can cause extreme itching in some cases and hair loss in some extreme cases, although this is usually only temporary.
This form of psoriasis causes nails to develop small dents or pits, become discoloured and grow abnormally. The nails can become loose and separate from the nail bed, and may crumble in severe cases.
This involves all or nearly all (at least 90%) of the skin’s surface, with fine, flaky scales of skin which shed in sheets. There is usually pain and itching which can be severe, and the patient is normally very unwell with an increased heart rate and erratic body temperature. This is a very serious condition which requires urgent medical attention.
This is a very severe form of psoriasis, with non infectious pus filled blisters surrounded by reddened, irritated skin. There are 3 types of pustular psoriasis which affect different parts of the body
Von Zumbusch or generalised pustular psoriasis – non-toxic pustules appear over a large area of the body which then peel off within a couple of days, leaving smooth, shiny skin. They can reappear every few days or weeks, often accompanied by fever and chills, weight loss and fatigue.
Palmoplantar pustular psoriasis – pustules to appear on the palms and soles, and gradually develop into round brown scaly spots which peel off. Pustules may reappear every few days or weeks as with generalised pustular psoriasis.
Acropustulosis – pustules appear on the fingers and toes which then burst, leaving bright red areas that may ooze pus or become scaly. These may lead to painful nail deformities.
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is inflammation in and around the joints in people who also have psoriasis. It also affects connective tissue, and is very variable.