Psoriasis is a physically and mentally challenging diagnosis. While you can’t control if you develop psoriasis, managing your lifestyle can help keep flair-ups at bay. Susan Mason, DO, UnityPoint Health, explains psoriasis types, treatment options and risk factors.
Psoriasis Types and Symptoms
There are many psoriasis types, each with a unique appearance and often showcasing in different areas of the body. Below describes some of the types and what each type of psoriasis looks like.
- Plaque psoriasis. By far the most common form of the disorder. It appears on the scalp, back of the elbows, top of knees and on the back. It leads to red swollen spots and patches on the skin in varying shapes and sizes from very small to large areas of the body.
- Guttate psoriasis. Shows up in small, multiple drop-like plaques on the trunk, upper legs and arms.
- Pustular psoriasis. Appears as raised, pus-filled bumps on red-colored skin. It shows up head-to-toe in varying severities.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis. Looks like a deep-red rash and sheds skin in large sheets. It also can show up anywhere head-to-toe in varying severities.
- Inverse psoriasis. Appears on the inner folds of the legs and groin area, folds of the buttocks, on genitals, under the arms and under the breasts. Often confused with fungal or bacterial infections because it can be smooth and shiny.
- Nail psoriasis. Appears on the finger and toenails. It often showcases after a new onset of plaque psoriasis and can signal concerns about psoriatic arthritis.
In the United States, about two percent of the population develops psoriasis. You might be asking, "What is psoriasis?" or “How do you get psoriasis?”
“Although psoriasis can seemingly come out of nowhere, you cannot just ‘get’ psoriasis,” Dr. Mason says. “Psoriasis is a genetic condition involving complex immune system pathways.”
Dr. Mason says psoriasis flairs-up for the first time at any age, but in the 30s and 50s through the 60s are two peaks of time when psoriasis development is most common. Psoriasis isn't contagious, so you can't develop psoriasis by touching someone with it.
Psoriasis Causes & Risk Factors
“There are common psoriasis causes that are now thought of as risk factors in those who are predisposed by their genetics,” Dr. Mason says.
Psoriasis risk factors include:
If you’re wondering how to treat psoriasis, the answer is probably not what you want to hear. Dr. Mason says you can never completely get rid of psoriasis.
“Psoriasis is a chronic condition, meaning it is always present in its various forms and can only be managed and controlled by lifestyle or how someone responds to various treatments,” Dr. Mason says.
Dr. Mason says treatment of psoriasis in the mid-to-moderate range most often involves steroid cream or ointment, along with other types of creams to keep the skin moisturized and inflammation down. For the moderate-to-severe presentations, there are more complex, specialized psoriasis medications and routines best done under the care of a dermatologist.
Some non-medicinal treatments include UV therapy or sunlight therapy. However, Dr. Mason says it is hard to control and can have considerable cost associated with it.
“Continued counseling for the psychological distress this condition almost always carries is also a very important part of the treatment for all psoriasis types,” Dr. Mason says.
While there are no psoriasis home remedies, there are ways you can take control of your condition by reducing the risk factors.
Dr. Mason makes these suggestions:
Psoriasis vs. Eczema
As for the differences between psoriasis and eczema, Dr. Mason says the types of psoriasis aren’t the same as types of eczema. She says eczema is not completely understood, but it is found to be more of a response to the environment due to a hypersensitivity or allergy-type of reaction. Eczema is seen with those who have chronically dry skin from too much washing or from work environment-created cracked skin invaded by bacteria or yeast.
“Eczema can also come from a reaction to something touching the skin, such as metals from jewelry, belt buckles, earrings and the like. It has been seen after drug reactions and various other insults to the skin,” Dr. Mason says.
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