What Is Psoriasis?

The common misconception of Psoriasis is that it is just a skin disease. Actually, the red, itchy, flaky skin is a direct result of what is going on inside your body.

Psoriasis begins inside your body, specifically with your immune system. Your immune system responds to different microorganisms and invaders from your environment. With psoriasis, your immune system is unintentionally turned on and is unable to turn itself off. Psoriasis tricks your body’s immune system to start working. Your immune system then becomes hyper-proliferative, which means it works too well by continually making new skin cells, without sloughing off of the old cells.

Under normal conditions, your new skin cells continuously replace old skin cells at a rate of approximately every 4 weeks. Psoriasis triggers your immune system to increase the production of new skin cells in just 4 to 5 days.

As new skin cells are produced, they rise up through your skin and begin to pile up on one another. Because they have nowhere else to go, your skin becomes inflamed in this area and this is what causes the redness. The patches are then a result of those extra skin cells that have stacked up on one another.

Types of Psoriasis

There are 5 major types of Psoriasis. Each of the 5 major types of psoriasis has its own characteristics and unique symptoms. A person will typically only have one type of psoriasis at a time. However, it’s not uncommon to see one form of psoriasis clear up and see another form begin.


Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque Psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris)

Plaque psoriasis is the most common form. It appears on your skin as raised, red inflamed patches with flakey or scaly build up of dead skin. These patches, or plaques as their called, can be found in certain areas of your body such as your scalp, knees and elbows, torso, the soft tissue inside your mouth, eyelids, and genitals. Plaque psoriasis is often itchy and can sting or burns. It also can cause cracking and bleeding. Learn more about how to treat plaque psoriasis.

Guttate Psoriasis

Guttate [GUH-tate]

Guttate psoriasis is the second most common form of psoriasis which often begins in childhood or young adulthood. It appears on your body as small, red, individual spots and can number in the hundreds. The red spots are usually not as thick or raised as plaque psoriasis lesions. Guttate psoriasis commonly appears on arms, legs or torso, but can sometimes form on the scalp, face, and ears. This form of psoriasis can precede or even appear with other forms of psoriasis such as plaque.
Triggers associated with Guttate Psoriasis include:
Upper respiratory infections, strep throat, tonsillitis, stress, injury to the skin, and certain drugs (anti-malarials & beta blockers).

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    Inverse Psoriasis

    Inverse (intertriginous psoriasis)

    Inverse psoriasis, also known as intertriginous psoriasis, appears as red lesions that can appear smooth and/or shiny. Inverse psoriasis can be found in the folds of your skin such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts and in other areas associated with skin folds. It is common in people who are overweight or have deep skin folds and can be easily irritated by rubbing or sweating due to its locations. Because the moist locations of inverse psoriasis, it typically lacks the scales that are associated with plaque psoriasis. Creams and lotions are considered very effective in treating the sensitivity of the skin because of its locations. It is common to see inverse psoriasis with other forms of psoriasis on different parts of the body at the same time.

    Pustular Psoriasis [PUHS-choo-lar]

    Pustular [PUHS-choo-lar] psoriasis is characterized by white pustules or blisters of noninfectious pus surrounded by red skin. The pus is actually white blood cells and is not contagious or an infection. Primarily seen in adults and can either be localized to certain areas of the body, such as the hands and feet, or covering most of the body. Pustular psoriasis tends to be cyclic, with reddening of the skin followed by pustules and scaling. Common Triggers of Pustular psoriasis include:
    Internal medications, irritating topical agents, overexposure to UV light, pregnancy, systemic steroid use, infections, emotional stress, and sudden withdrawal of systemic medications or potent topical steroids.

    Erythrodermic Psoriasis

    Erythrodermic Psoriasis [eh-REETH-ro-der-mik]

    Erythrodermic psoriasis is a particularly inflammatory form of psoriasis that often affects most of the body surface. It is characterized by periodic, widespread, fiery redness of the skin and the shedding of scales in sheets. It may occur in association with von Zumbusch pustular psoriasis. It is a rare type of psoriasis, only occurring in three percent of the people who have psoriasis. It generally appears on people who have unstable plaque psoriasis. This causes lesions that are not well defined. Severe itching and pain often accompanies it.
    Individuals having an erythrodermic psoriasis flare should see a doctor immediately. This form of psoriasis can be life-threatening.