Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the cells of your immune system have gone rogue. Mistreating and attacking healthy cells in your body as foreign cells.
When your immune system senses foreign invaders, it discharges an army of proteins to attack healthy cells. Escalating the production of skin cells in four to seven days, as opposed to the normal 21 to 28 days1. Causing new cells to grow way too quickly on the surface of the skin.
The look and feel of psoriasis are flaky skin, scaly skin, red skin, itchy skin, burning skin, patches, and plaques. Psoriasis skin looks thicker and more inflamed compared to other skin conditions2.
Your dermatologist may perform a biopsy on your skin lesion to examine it more closely. Discover six different types of psoriasis that you need to know before getting them confused with other skin conditions.
6 Types of Psoriasis You Need to Know
1. Plaque psoriasis
The most prevalent type of psoriasis. A staggering 80% of patients with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. The plaques look dry, reddish and raised, covered by silver-white scales. The appearance of the plaques is unpredictable. They can show up anywhere on the body, including elbows, knees, genitals, and on the belly button3.
2. Guttate psoriasis
A relatively uncommon form. Lesions are small, itchy, droplet-looking, salmon-pink (or red) spots, covered by a fine scale. Outbreak can occur on the body, face, ears, scalp, arms, or legs. Rarely appears on the palms and the bottoms of the feet4.
3. Inverse psoriasis
More common in people who are overweight. Red patches that are smooth, shiny, and painful. As the name suggests, it mainly occurs in skin folds and hidden areas: buttocks, armpits, groin, under the breasts, and around the genitals. Friction and sweating worsen the situation5.
4. Pustular psoriasis
A rare form of psoriasis. Skin becomes fiery red, dry, and tender, with blisters filled with pus. Pustular psoriasis can appear on any part of the body, but it usually shows up on the palms, fingers, toes, and the soles of the feet. Effectively disabling the use of your hands and legs6.
5. Erythrodermic psoriasis
The rarest type of psoriasis. Only 3% of patients with psoriasis catch it once or more in a lifetime. Lesions are not clearly defined. The entire body is covered with a red, peeling rash that causes the skin to itch, burn, or irritate immensely. Erythrodermic psoriasis can be life threatening. It requires immediate medical attention7.
6. Psoriatic arthritis
A common type of psoriasis that affects skin and joints. Develops in adults between 30 and 50 years old. A combination of inflamed, scaly skin and painful, stiff, swollen joints. It can appear on any part of your body, such as fingertips, wrists, knees, spine, lower back, or ankles. Early diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis is imperative to prevent permanent deformity8.
Don’t Scratch Your Head!
4 Skin Problems That Resemble Psoriasis
There are many types of skin conditions out there, it can be confusing. To the untrained eye, a patch of scaly skin may look a lot like psoriasis. The real difference lies in the shape of the edges of the affected area, the colour, and the thickness of the scales.
1. Eczema. Also known as atopic dermatitis. It looks very much like psoriasis. Dry, red, flaky skin, but the condition is not contagious. Eczema usually occurs in places where the skin will bend, such as: hands, feet, elbows, or fingers; psoriasis can occur almost anywhere like on your face, scalp or palm.
Children may experience mild itching with psoriasis, but they may experience intense itching with eczema9. Your dermatologist is able to tell both skin conditions apart based on their trained eye, the amount of itch, and the affected areas.
2. Dandruff. A very common condition. It looks very similar to scalp psoriasis. Both produce skin flakes on the scalp, but their symptoms are different. Dandruff gives you white, oily flakes10, whereas psoriasis gives you red patches of inflamed skin, covered with silver-white scales. These scales (or plaques) may be painful. Scratching may cause the skin to bleed. Dandruff is rarely serious and it is easier to treat.
3. Seborrheic dermatitis. A yeast rash that can be confused with scalp psoriasis. It may cause long-term distress. Shares symptoms of psoriasis, such as itchy, scaly, and red skin. Seborrheic dermatitis skin looks swollen and greasy, covered with crusty white or yellowish scales11. Skin flakes may attach to the hair shaft. Psoriasis on the other hand, can cross the hairline and extend beyond the scalp.
4. Scabies. A contagious skin condition. Caused by infestation of tiny mites that you can pick up from your bedding, clothes, and furniture12. Although scabies can develop anywhere on the skin, these mites prefer to dwell in certain parts of the body, such as: hands, fingertips, arms, elbows, wrists, and skin that is usually covered by clothing or jewellery13. Scabies can be mistaken for psoriasis due to itchiness, little bumps of rash, scaly patches, or thick crusts on the skin. Avoid direct, skin-to-skin contact with others. It will go away once treated.
Follow Your Dermatologist’s Advice
Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis, but there are many types of treatment for psoriasis. It is crucial to follow your dermatologist’s advice. There are so many things that you can do to prevent flare-ups and still look at your best.
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2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis
9 https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/eczema-resource-center/controlling-eczema/ec zema-vs-psoriasis