How Psoriasis Begins
Psoriasis typically starts with infections, such as strep throat or skin infections, or in cold weather when proper skin care is neglected. Initially, it may resemble a skin injury, like a cut or scrape, insect bite, or severe sunburn.
At first, red bumps may appear on the skin’s surface. These bumps can become thicker and larger, eventually developing scales on top. The patches may merge and cover large areas of the skin, causing discomfort, itching, and easy bleeding when rubbed or scratched.
Types of Psoriasis
This is the most common type of psoriasis, affecting about 8 out of 10 individuals with the condition. It is also known as “psoriasis vulgaris.” Plaque psoriasis causes inflamed, raised, red skin covered with white or silvery scales. It often appears on the knees, elbows, scalp, and lower back.
Guttate psoriasis usually starts in childhood or early adulthood and accounts for less than two percent of cases. It causes small, pink-red spots on the body, commonly appearing on the upper arms, trunk, thighs, and scalp. While some cases may resolve without treatment, others may require dermatological intervention.
Inverse psoriasis typically occurs in areas such as armpits, under the breasts, groin, and skin folds around the buttocks and genitals. Symptoms include worsening with friction and sweating, bright red and smooth patches without scales. Common triggers for inverse psoriasis include friction, fungal infections, and excessive sweating.
Pustular psoriasis is a rare form of the condition that primarily affects adults. It causes pus-filled bumps surrounded by red skin, which may resemble an infection but are not. Pustular psoriasis can occur on specific body parts or cover the entire body in severe cases. Symptoms may include fever, nausea, chills, rapid heart rate, and muscle weakness. Triggers for pustular psoriasis include certain medications, sudden discontinuation of treatment, excessive ultraviolet light exposure, infection, stress, pregnancy, or exposure to specific chemicals.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is the least common but most severe form of the condition. It affects most of the body and causes widespread, inflamed skin that appears burned. Additional symptoms may include a faster heart rate, changes in body temperature, severe itching, peeling, or burning. Immediate medical attention is necessary for this type of psoriasis due to the risk of severe illness and complications. Triggers for erythrodermic psoriasis include allergic drug reactions, sudden discontinuation of treatment, infection, severe sunburn, or certain medications.
Nail changes occur in up to half of individuals with psoriasis. Nail psoriasis is more common in those with psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms include pitting of the nails, separation from the nail bed, tender and painful nails, chalk-like material under the nails, and color changes.
Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that combines psoriasis and joint inflammation. It usually develops about ten years after the onset of psoriasis and affects approximately 90 percent of individuals with psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms include swelling of the fingers and toes, painful and stiff joints that worsen in the morning and after rest, and warm joints that may appear discolored.
The Leading Cause of Psoriasis
The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown. However, research suggests that genetics and the immune system play significant roles.
Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to develop psoriasis. Having a family member with the condition increases the likelihood of developing it, although only a small percentage of people with psoriasis have a genetic link.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the skin cells. This attack accelerates the production of skin cells, leading to the formation of plaques and inflamed areas of skin.
Treating Scalp Psoriasis
Mild or temporary scaling of the scalp may improve on its own, but sometimes treatment is necessary. It can take several months to control severe scalp psoriasis, and a combination of treatments may be required.
The initial step in treatment is softening the skin and removing scales to enhance the