Psoriasis is essentially an autoimmune condition that develops when your immune system encourages your body to produce new skin cells far more quickly than normal.
Psoriasis is a bit of a “catch all” term as there are actually a few different types of psoriasis that can have their own set of symptoms. This means you can have an entirely different experience of psoriasis compared to someone else who also has the condition, depending on which type you have. It’s also possible to have more than one type of psoriasis at the same time.
This is the most common type of psoriasis and shows itself in some of the more traditional symptoms of the condition. This includes red, raised patches of red skin topped with a build up of silver-white scales due to an excess of dead skin cells.
It can often appear on the scalp but it can also develop on other parts of the body too.
It is usually itchy but can also be painful and sore and make the skin crack and even bleed.
Treatment for plaque psoriasis generally involves topical treatments to remove build up of scales and reduce the redness underneath. On the scalp, this can include shampoos containing a combination of coal tar and coconut oil. Elsewhere on the body, corticosteroids may be prescribed, along with treatments that suppress the immune system and reduce the number of skin cells being produced.
This type of psoriasis is fairly common in children and young adults and can develop after a bout of strep throat or another infection or illness. It is one of the most common forms of psoriasis after plaque psoriasis.
It is characterised by small, drop or dot shaped lesions. There can be scales on top of these but the end result isn’t as thick or raised up as plaque psoriasis. These symptoms can sometimes disappear as quickly as they developed but they can also come and go in much the same way as most psoriasis types.
Treatments for guttate psoriasis can include topical creams (that sometimes contain steroids), corticosteroids and immune suppressants.
This type of psoriasis crops up most commonly in skin folds such as the groin, the underarms and underneath the breasts. Inverse psoriasis tends to be shiny and smooth in its appearance, unlike most other forms of the condition. Another difference is the fact that inverse psoriasis tends not to be dry or raised up in its texture; instead, it is usually moist.
It can accompany other types of psoriasis so you may find that you have it in skin folds and also have another form somewhere else on your body.
Topical creams can be used to tackle inflammation and irritation but treating inverse psoriasis can be tricky given the sensitive nature of some of the areas it develops in. Steroid creams can be a problem for longer term use as they can thin the skin. Other options include treatments that stop the immune system paving the way for psoriasis symptoms and phototherapy (with ultraviolet light) for more severe cases.
This type of psoriasis presents itself in the form of pus-filled blisters surrounded by areas of red skin, often on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Although it looks nasty, it’s not contagious. The blisters are actually thought to be filled with white blood cells rather than anything that can be infectious.
Treatment for pustular psoriasis can include topical treatments, phototherapy (with ultraviolet light) and sometimes, immune suppressants.
This is one of the least common types of psoriasis but it’s by far the most severe kind. It can affect large areas (potentially most of the body) and has an intensely red and fiery look. It tends to be very itchy and can also be seriously painful too. The skin can actually peel off, which is an indication of just how serious this form of psoriasis can be.
If you think you might have developed it, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible as it can potentially be life threatening.