There are several types of psoriasis, each type unique in its own way. Doctors look for signs during a physical exam so they are better able to distinguish one type of psoriasis from another. Signs of psoriasis include descriptions of the location and shape of the lesions. Typical symptoms of psoriasis include itching, pain, and increased sensitivity of the affected skin.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis and is named for the lesions that are characteristic of this type of psoriasis. Plaques tend to grow slower and are more stable as they may remain unchanged for long periods of time.
Signs and symptoms of plaque psoriasis include, but are not limited to, red and raised skin patches topped by silvery-white scales. Outbreaks most commonly occur on the elbows, knees, buttocks, scalp, and lower back; The affected areas often have pain, itching, and cracking and the patches may join together to form large affected areas on the back and chest.
Another type of psoriasis is Guttate psoriasis which is most often triggered by bacterial infections and are most common in childhood or young adulthood. The signs and symptoms of Guttate psoriasis include small, drop-like lesions on the limbs, trunk, and scalp. The most significant risk factor for psoriasis is having a family history of the disease. About one in three people with psoriasis have a close relative with the condition.
The least common form of psoriasis is Erythrodermic Psoriasis and may be triggered by use of certain drugs, severe sunburn, or abrupt withdrawal of oral steroids. Signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to, widespread redness of the skin, swelling of the affected areas, and severe itching and pain.
Most commonly found in the skin fold areas of the body, Inverse Psoriasis is found in the armpits, groin, and genital areas. Inverse Psoriasis is also known as flexural psoriasis. The symptoms and signs include pain and itchiness oin the affected area, smooth and moist patches without a scaly surface, and sensitivity to friction and sweating.
Psoriasis symptoms are related to the immune system and a type of white blood cell called a T-lymphocyte or T-cell. Normally T-cells travel throughout the body to detect and fight off foreign substances, such as bacteria or viruses. In people with psoriasis, however, the T-cells attack the healthy skin cells by mistake as if they are to fight an infection or heal a wound.
Overactive T-cells trigger other immune responses that can cause an increased production of both healthy skin cells and more T-cells. The result is an ongoing cycle in which new skin cells move to the outer layer of skin too quickly. Dead skin and white blood cells are unable to slough off quickly and build up in thick and scaly patches on the skins surface. This cycle does not stop unless treatment is administered. Psoriasis typically starts or worsens because a trigger that may be identified including stress, smoking, cold weather, heavy alcohol consumption, or certain medications.