Types of psoriasis and where you may see symptoms

While plaque psoriasis is the most common type, psoriasis can take several forms. It can also affect many different parts of your body. That is why it's important for you to know which type of psoriasis you have. Below are pictures and descriptions of different types of psoriasis and what symptoms may look like. It is possible to have more than one type of psoriasis. Be sure to share your symptoms with your doctor so he or she can give you the right diagnosis.

Plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris)

Plaque psoriasis on elbow
Example of plaque psoriasis on the elbow

Plaque psoriasis, also known as psoriasis vulgaris, is the most common type of psoriasis. It affects about 80% to 90% of people with psoriasis.

What does it look like?

  • Dry, slightly raised, red patches, known as plaques, appear on the skin
  • Plaques are often covered with silvery white scales
  • Plaques may start out as small bumps that grow together
  • Plaques are usually found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back, but can appear anywhere

Different parts of the body can also be affected.

Plaque psoriasis on hand
Example of plaque psoriasis on the palm

HANDS AND FEET (known as palmo-plantar involvement)

  • Plaques can appear on the palm of your hands
  • Plaques can appear on the bottom of your feet
Plaque psoriasis on scalp
Example of plaque psoriasis on scalp

SCALP

At least half of all people who have plaque psoriasis have plaques on the scalp.

  • Plaques appear on the scalp
  • Plaques may spread to the ears, forehead, and the back of the neck
  • Hair may fall out. Learn about hair care for psoriasis
  • Psoriasis can appear on the scalp without skin changes on the rest of the body
Psoriasis on finger nails
Example of psoriasis on the nails

NAILS

Up to 40% of all people who have plaque psoriasis have changes in their fingernails or toenails.

  • Nails can thicken severely
  • Shallow or deep holes (pits) can appear in the nail
  • Nails can change in color, such as turning yellowish-brown
  • Nails can separate from the nail bed
Plaque psoriasis symptoms tracker
Do you have plaque psoriasis? Track your symptoms to share with your doctor

Guttate psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis
Example of guttate psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis appears as small, reddish dots. These dots usually appear on the upper body, legs, and arms, but can be on any area. This type of psoriasis commonly appears in teenagers. It often occurs suddenly and sometimes appears because of a respiratory infection, such as strep throat.

Inverse psoriasis

This form of psoriasis appears in the folds of the skin as smooth, red patches without the scales found in plaque psoriasis. It may also cause itching. Inverse psoriasis may appear in the genital area, as well as under the breasts and in the armpits. Because it appears in skin folds where there is constant rubbing, there is a higher chance that lesions will spread to skin that wasn’t already affected.

Pustular psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis on hand
Example of pustular psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis appears as small, white, fluid-filled blisters (pustules) surrounded by swollen, reddish skin. It may be on the palms and bottom of the feet. However, this type of psoriasis can cover the entire body and cause fevers, fluid imbalances, and infections. Many people with this type of psoriasis need to be hospitalized.

Erythrodermic psoriasis

Erythrodermic psoriasis on back
Example of erythrodermic psoriasis

Erythrodermic psoriasis can cover the entire body. The skin appears bright red with a lot of fine scaling. It can be very painful and there may be severe itching. Because symptoms are so widespread, this type of psoriasis can be very serious. It can cause your body to lose proteins and fluids, and a decrease in body temperature, which can lead to life-threatening illness and may require hospitalization.

Psoriasis and joint pain
If you have skin symptoms and joint pain, you may have a related condition.

What can cause flare-ups?

Even though psoriasis is a condition of the immune system, there are some triggers that can make your symptoms get worse, such as:

  • Certain medicines
  • Cold weather
  • An injury to the skin
  • A strep infection, such as strep throat
  • Stress

Be sure to tell your doctor about any triggers you may notice.

THE TAKEAWAY
  • There are several different types of psoriasis
  • Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis
  • Plaque psoriasis causes dry, raised, red patches to appear on skin
  • Certain triggers can make symptoms get worse
Did you know?
If your plaque psoriasis covers 3%-10% of your body, it’s considered moderate to severe (the surface of your palm = 1%).