Psoriasis is a chronic, yet common, skin condition that affects more than 7.5 million Americans. It usually appears as flaky, itchy, red patches on your skin in places like the scalp, elbows, back, face, and feet. However, psoriasis has over five different versions and is often mistaken for other skin disorders.
David Rodriguez, MD, and the skin experts at Dadeland Dermatology, located in Kendall, Florida, diagnose and treat patients with psoriasis so they can live happier, healthier lives. Here’s how to distinguish psoriasis from other skin conditions.
What to look for
Red, flaky, and itchy skin is seen in many skin disorders. That’s why psoriasis is often misunderstood. Psoriasis can look different in anyone, but some of the most common symptoms are:
- Red patches of skin
- Dry, cracked skin
- Swollen joints
Psoriasis is unpredictable and often acts in cycles. Many patients experience a flare-up that gradually gets better before entering remission for weeks and even months.
The five types of psoriasis
When you have psoriasis, your immune system encourages your body to create skin cells at a higher rate than normal. The excess skin cells create the physical symptoms that generally cause patients discomfort. Understanding the five different types of psoriasis can help you get a better grip on whether you are affected by it.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common and is responsible for 80% of psoriasis cases. Plaque psoriasis usually starts as tiny red bumps and evolves into larger red patches with a silver, scaly covering. This type of psoriasis is most commonly found on the lower back, knees, and elbows.
Guttate psoriasis is most common among children who’ve recently had an infection like strep throat. The skin disorder often shows up in the form of small, red spots across their core and/or limbs. The second most common type of psoriasis, guttate psoriasis may require treatment or go away on its own.
More severe and rare than the former types, pustular psoriasis appears as small, white or yellow, pus-filled blisters that can be found across the body. This type of psoriasis is hereditary and requires medical attention because of its ability to be life-threatening.
Inverse psoriasis affects the skin folds and appears as a red, shiny, smooth rash. Although the root of inverse psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, it may be triggered by moisture and friction in these hidden creases. Common areas of inverse psoriasis include the underarms, under breasts, inner thighs, and the groin.
Affecting only 3% of people with psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis is especially inflammatory and usually covers a majority of the body. This type of psoriasis throws off your body’s system, often causing severe itching, temperature fluctuations, and an elevated heart rate. Erythrodermic psoriasis requires medical attention and can be life-threatening.
How can it be treated?
Psoriasis isn’t curable, but it can be treated in different ways. Dr. Rodriguez meets with you to talk about your condition and to pinpoint any potential triggers. Depending on which type of psoriasis you have, Dr. Rodriguez may prescribe medication or topical treatment to help manage your symptoms. Vitamin D and oral retinoids may also offer you relief.
Dr. Rodriguez may also suggest UVB light therapy, an effective treatment that can clear your skin for as long as three months. In a clinical study, 50-90% of patients who received light therapy for psoriasis noticed their symptoms greatly improved or completely went away.
Still unsure if you have psoriasis? The best way to know is by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Rodriguez. Call 305-250-2056 to make an appointment, or book online.