The most frequent symptom of psoriasis is dry, thick, and elevated skin patches. These spots are itchy and frequently covered in a silvery-white coating known as scale.
The thickened, dry patches of skin are a typical symptom, but it is not uncommon for psoriasis patients to experience a variety of atypical symptoms as well. What you see and feel varies depending on:
- What kind of psoriasis you have
- Where psoriasis arises on your body
- The severity of your psoriasis
Types of psoriasis
Plaque (plaque) psoriasis
This kind of psoriasis affects about 80% to 90% of persons with the disease. When plaque psoriasis emerges, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Thick, elevated skin patches.
- Some plaques covered in scale (a dry, thin, silvery-white coating)
- Plaques of various sizes
- Plaques joined together to produce larger plaques
Plaques are most commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back, but they can appear anywhere on the body. It's normal for plaques to itch, but don't scratch them. Scratching the patches can cause them to thicken. Dermatologists advise treating psoriasis to alleviate the itching.
Guttate (gut-tate) psoriasis
When a person develops this type of psoriasis, small pimples suddenly erupt on the skin. The bumps cover a large portion of the chest, legs, and arms. The lumps can also appear on the cheeks, scalp, and ears. The bumps are usually identifiable by the following characteristics:
- Small and scaly
- Pink to salmon-colored
Without therapy, it will resolve in a few weeks or months.
Guttate psoriasis may never recur after it has cleared. The reason behind this is still a mystery. Children and young adults who have had an illness, such as strep throat, are more likely to develop guttate psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis may disappear once the infection has cleared.
There is a possibility of permanent guttate psoriasis and/or developing plaque psoriasis, which can happen before or after your guttate psoriasis goes into remission.
This kind of psoriasis appears in places where skin rubs against skin, such as the armpits, genitals, and buttock crease. You'll probably notice the following symptoms where inverse psoriasis appears:
- Skin that is smooth and red and appears to be raw
- There isn't much, if any, silvery-white covering.
- Skin that is itchy or painful
Intertriginous psoriasis and flexural psoriasis are other names for this form of psoriasis.
Psoriasis of this form generates pus-filled pimples that usually only occur on the feet and hands. Although the pus-filled pimples appear to be infectious, they are not. There are no bacteria or anything else in the lumps that may cause an illness. When pustular psoriasis appears, you may observe the following:
- Skin that is red, puffy, and speckled with pus-filled lumps
- Skin that is really uncomfortable or painful
- As the pus-filled lumps dry, brown spots (and occasionally scale) develop.
Pustular psoriasis can make any action that require your hands or feet, such as typing or walking, painfully uncomfortable.
Pustular psoriasis (generalized)
This rare variety of psoriasis causes pus-filled lumps to develop on much of the skin, which can be life-threatening. A flare-up of von Zumbusch psoriasis causes the following sequence of events:
- The skin on the majority of the body becomes dry, red, and painful.
- Pus-filled lumps cover the majority of the skin within hours.
- The pus-filled pimples usually break open within a day and pools of pus pour onto the skin.
- The skin dries out and peels as the pus dries (typically within 24 to 48 hours).
- When the dry skin peels away, the surface is smooth and glossy.
- As the cycle repeats itself, you may notice a new crop of pus-filled lumps covering most of the skin in a few days or weeks.
- Anyone with pustular psoriasis feels quite ill and may experience fever, headaches, muscle weakness, and other symptoms. As this rare condition is considered life-threatening, imminent medical attention is required.
This type of psoriasis is also serious and life-threatening, and necessitates rapid medical attention. When someone has erythrodermic psoriasis, they may have the following symptoms:
- The majority of the body's skin appears to be burned.
- Chills, fever, and the person appears to be very sick
- A fast pulse, muscle weakness, and extreme itching
The majority of persons with erythrodermic psoriasis also have another kind of psoriasis. They frequently realize that their psoriasis does not respond to treatment before developing erythrodermic psoriasis. If you experience one of these symptoms, consult a dermatologist who is board-certified. People with erythrodermic psoriasis should seek medical help right away. Among other risks, the person may be unable to maintain an acceptable body temperature, resulting in hypothermia.
While many people think of psoriasis as a skin condition, it can affect any part of the body. Psoriasis patients frequently notice symptoms on their nails. Your fingernails or toenails may change as a result of any type of psoriasis. At some point, around 50% of persons with plaque psoriasis will notice psoriasis on their fingernails.
When psoriasis affects the nails, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Nail pits, which are little dents in your nails.
- A white, yellow, or brown discoloration under one or more nails.
- Rusty, crumbling nails.
- A nail that has lifted up and is no longer attached.
- A buildup of skin cells beneath one or more nails which causes the nail to lift up.
Nail psoriasis can be controlled with treatment and adequate nail care.
Psoriatic arthritis is a disorder that occurs when psoriasis affects the joints. It's critical to pay attention to your joints if you have psoriasis. If you have severe psoriasis, you are more likely to acquire psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis generally appears on the skin years before the development of psoriatic arthritis. In rare cases, psoriatic arthritis can occur before psoriasis.
The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can be modest at first. You could notice:
- A swollen, painful joint, particularly in a finger or toe
- Heel ache
- Swelling slightly above your heel on the back of your leg
- Morning stiffness that lessens during the day
As with psoriasis, a cure for psoriatic arthritis has yet to be found. Treatment can help keep psoriatic arthritis from getting worse, which is crucial. Psoriatic arthritis can become crippling if left untreated.
Psoriasis can impact your skin, nails, and joints, as you've just seen. Other parts of your body can also be affected by psoriasis.
Reference: “Psoriasis: Signs and Symptoms.” Psoriasis: Signs and Symptoms, www.aad.org, https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/what/symptoms. Accessed 10 May 2022.