Everyone wants to feel comfortable and confident in their skin. But when you have red, scaly, itchy patches on your skin, you can't imagine being anything but uncomfortable.
The good news? You're not alone. Psoriasis affects a shocking 7.5 million adults in the United States.
The bad news? You've heard that there's no cure. However, just because we can't get rid of psoriasis completely, that doesn't mean your skin is a lost cause. There are many treatment options available to manage symptoms and help you feel confident again — and it all starts with understanding exactly what you're up against.
First and foremost, psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease, which means your immune system acts abnormally and triggers a rapid overproduction of skin cells that your body can't shed.
There are several types of psoriasis, and each has its own unique characteristics and symptoms, and getting to know the type you have is an important step forward in getting the help you need.
Here, our experts at Sanford Dermatology give you a rundown of the five most common types of psoriasis and how we treat them.
1. Plaque psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type, accounting for around 80% of psoriasis cases. Its hallmark symptoms are thick, red or purplish patches with silvery-white or gray scales that develop on your skin. These patches can be itchy and painful and tend to show up on your scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back.
To manage plaque psoriasis, we recommend keeping your skin moisturized to reduce dryness and irritation. Any gentle over-the-counter moisturizer will do, but we can help you find the best one for your skin type.
Other treatment options include topical creams, vitamin D creams, immunotherapy, coal tar, phototherapy, and oral medications.
2. Guttate psoriasis
This type of psoriasis usually develops after contracting a streptococcal infection and is more common in children and young adults. Guttate psoriasis causes small, red, scaly spots that grow on the midsection, arms, and legs. In darker skin, it may show up as violet or dark brown.
We treat this type of psoriasis with steroid creams, phototherapy, and oral medications. We can prescribe antibiotics if there's an underlying infection.
3. Inverse psoriasis
Inverse psoriasis (you may also hear it referred to as flexural psoriasis) crops up in skin folds, particularly in your armpits and groin, and under your breasts. Sweat and moisture in those skinfolds keep this type of psoriasis from shedding skin scales.
With inverse psoriasis, you develop smooth, red, inflamed patches that can be itchy and painful due to constant skin-on-skin contact. Tell us all your symptoms because inverse psoriasis can be mistaken as a fungal or bacterial infection.
For this type, treatment options include topical creams, phototherapy, and oral medications.
4. Pustular psoriasis
This type of psoriasis can be severe at times. It's characterized by white, pus-filled blisters surrounded by red, inflamed skin. You may notice that it develops in an isolated area like your hands or feet, but it can also cover more of your skin. Sometimes, the pustules join together and form scales.
If it does cover or affect multiple areas of your body, this type of psoriasis can have systemic consequences and even become life-threatening.
Pustular psoriasis can also occur cyclically, going through periods of flare-ups and remission.
The pustules themselves aren't infectious, but the condition can trigger flu-like symptoms, such as:
- Rapid pulse
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of appetite
Treatment options include topical creams, oral medications, and sometimes hospitalization for severe cases.
5. Erythrodermic psoriasis
This is the least common type of psoriasis, affecting only 3% of Americans. But it can also be the most severe. This rare skin condition causes a burn-like rash to cover most of your body. It can also cause chills, fever, and dehydration and may be life-threatening in some cases.
For that reason, this type of psoriasis requires immediate medical attention, and a flare-up can land you in the hospital. Treatments for erythrodermic psoriasis include:
- Hypoallergenic moisturizers and cool compresses
- Topical ointments like corticosteroids or retinoids
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Oral retinoids
- Biologic therapies
Remember, psoriasis is a chronic condition requiring ongoing management. Still, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Call or click to schedule a consultation at any of our three conveniently located offices serving Greater Sanford, Pittsboro, and Lillington, North Carolina.