Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the U.S., with as many as 7.5 million Americans suffering from psoriasis symptoms. It is estimated that 125 million people worldwide have some form of psoriasis, with roughly 10 to 30 percent of those people also suffering from psoriatic arthritis.
While many people consider skin psoriasis to be a strictly cosmetic problem, those who actually suffer from the disease are usually quick to disagree with that viewpoint. Well over half of psoriasis sufferers say that the disease negatively impacts their day-to-day life, as well as their finances. Between medical costs, work loss due to the disease, and “comfort costs” like psoriasis skin care and proper clothing, psoriasis can be a heavy financial burden.
Most forms of psoriasis appear between the ages of 15 and 25, though it can develop at any age. Psoriasis can develop randomly, or be passed down by family members. If a child has one parent with psoriasis, that child has roughly a 10% chance of developing the disease. If both parents have psoriasis, the likelihood of the child developing psoriasis jumps to a whopping 50%.
Here’s a look at the different types of psoriasis and how treatment of each type may differ. Please note that our advice and opinions are in no way intended to act as or replace the professional opinion of your doctor or dermatologist. If you suffer from psoriasis, or suspect that you’re developing psoriasis, please seek the medical guidance of your doctor.
Plaque Psoriasis, also known as psoriasis vulgaris, is the most common form of the disease. It appears on the skin as raised, red patches with a silver or white buildup of dead skin cells. (These silver-white patches are often referred to as psoriasis scales.) Plaque psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, but is usually found on the scalp, knees, elbows, or lower back. Psoriasis vulgaris patches are usually itchy, painful, and extremely dry; it is also common for them to crack and bleed.
Guttate psoriasis (pronounced GUH-tate) is the second most common form of psoriasis. It usually occurs during childhood, and generally affects the trunk and limbs only; though the scalp, face, and ears are also susceptible to developing lesions. With guttate psoriasis, the lesions are small, red, and not as thick as those seen with plaque psoriasis. The lesions typically develop in the hundreds, giving skin and odd, leopard-like appearance.
Guttate psoriasis can occur suddenly and spontaneously, or can be triggered by upper respiratory infections, tonsillitis, stress, skin injury, streptococcal infection, or certain prescription drugs. Streptococcal infection of the throat (known to most people as strep throat) is a very common guttate psoriasis trigger.
Inverse psoriasis, also known as intertriginous psoriasis, is a type of psoriasis that usually accompanies another form of psoriasis, such as plaque or guttate. It appears as large, smooth, and shiny red lesions found within folds of the body, such as behind the knees or under arms. Patches of inverse psoriasis are very prone to irritation, mainly because body skin folds tend to rub and sweat more than other areas of the body. Inverse psoriasis can be experienced by anyone, but is more common in overweight people and those with deep skin folds.
Pustular psoriasis is characterized by a harsh cycle of reddened skin followed by white pustules of noninfectious pus and skin scaling. It is not an infection, and it is not contagious; rather, pustular psoriasis is usually triggered by external factors. Common triggers include medications, topical products, overexposure to UV light, pregnancy, systemic steroids, infection (though pustular psoriasis is not itself an infection), and stress. Withdrawal from systemic medications and topical steroids can also cause pustular psoriasis.
Finally, erythrodermic psoriasis is a very inflammatory form of the disease that usually affects the entire body at once. It is a very rare form of psoriasis, and is usually only seen in those who have an unstable case of plaque psoriasis. Erythrodermic psoriasis is very itchy and painful. Signs to look for include severe redness, exfoliation of dead skin cells in large “sheets” peeling away from the body, skin with a burned appearance, increased heart rate, unstable body temperature, and severe itching and pain.
Important: if you are experiencing erythrodermic psoriasis symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Erythrodermic psoriasis can be life-threatening. This form of psoriasis completely throws off your body’s chemistry, causing protein loss, fluid loss and more. Extreme swelling, infection, pneumonia, and congestive heart failure are all possible complications of erythrodermic psoriasis.
The true cause of erythrodermic psoriasis is not known; however, some known triggers include severe sunburn, infection, stress, alcoholism, systemic treatment withdrawal, allergic rash caused by drugs, and the use of systemic steroids.
Each form of psoriasis has its own set of recommended treatments. You’ll need to speak with your doctor to figure out which form of treatment is right for you. For now, here’s a look at the most common ways doctors treat psoriasis.
- Systemic medications are prescription drugs that are usually prescribed for moderate to severe psoriasis. They work throughout the body to fight psoriasis.
- Phototherapy or light therapy uses UV light to combat psoriasis. Some people choose to spend a little more time in the sun; however, true phototherapy is done in-office under a doctor’s supervision.
- Biologic drugs or biologics are injections or IV treatments that are given to those with moderate to severe psoriasis that isn’t responding to other treatments.
- Alternative medicine and homeopathy is a somewhat controversial route that many take to treat psoriasis and other diseases. These forms of medicine are not considered to be as effective as conventional or Western medicine, and may even prolong or worsen one’s psoriasis.
- Topical psoriasis treatment, including psoriasis skin care, is typically the first course of action against most forms of psoriasis. Topical treatments are easy to acquire either by prescription or over-the-counter, and can go a long way toward soothing and healing psoriasis lesions.
Atopalm’s sister brand Psoriapalm offers a clinically-proven topical psoriasis treatment that includes Atopalm’s revolutionary MLE Technology. Psoriapalm non-greasy psoriasis lotion was proven to be an effective way to reduce visible scaling, plaque elevation, and skin redness. These three actions resulted in skin that was more beautiful, more comfortable, and less likely to worsen over time.