Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About MyPsoriasisTeam

Types of Psoriasis

Updated on January 13, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Article written by
Emily Wagner, M.S.
Article written by
Kelly Crumrin

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition caused by an overactive immune system. There are five main types of skin psoriasis, plus psoriatic arthritis — which affects the joints. Health care providers identify psoriasis types by their symptoms. It is possible to have multiple types of skin psoriasis at one time, or one type of psoriasis may change into another type. Psoriatic arthritis can also develop alone or with skin psoriasis.

Locations of Psoriasis on the Body

Different types of psoriasis can form on any area of the body. The location of psoriasis determines the kinds of treatments your dermatologist will prescribe.

Facial Psoriasis

Facial psoriasis is common, affecting around 50 percent of people with the condition. Facial psoriasis can be found on the upper forehead, around the eyes and eyebrows, and on the skin between the nose and upper lip.

Psoriasis can affect the skin around the eyes,
eyebrows, and between the nose and upper lip. (Adobe)
Facial psoriasis affects around 50 percent of
people with the condition.
(Dermatology Atlas)

Psoriasis can also occur in and around the ear. In some cases, scaling can build up in the ear canal and lead to hearing loss. If this occurs, do not use objects to remove the scaling and consult your doctor.

Psoriasis can occur around the ear or build up in the ear canal. (Adobe)


Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis affects 45 percent to 56 percent of people living with psoriasis. It commonly forms along the hairline, and on the scalp, forehead, skin around the ears, and back of the neck. Scalp psoriasis can look like dandruff or appear as thick plaques that cover the scalp.

Scalp psoriasis may also be mistaken for seborrheic dermatitis — however, plaques from seborrheic dermatitis are greasy and yellowish, whereas scalp psoriasis is white and more flakey.

Scalp psoriasis differs from seborrheic
dermatitis in its white, flakey
appearance. (Dermatology Atlas)
Scalp psoriasis can appear as dandruff
or as thick plaques.
(DermNet NZ)

Hand, Feet, and Nail Psoriasis

Psoriasis can also form on the skin covering the hands and feet — known as palmoplantar psoriasis (PPP). About 12 percent to 16 percent of people living with psoriasis will develop psoriasis on their hands or feet. PPP can have a great impact on quality of life, as expected for a disease affecting hands and feet.

Psoriasis on the hands can greatly affect daily life because the hands are so often in use. (Adobe)


Nail psoriasis is also a common condition, affecting around 50 percent of those with psoriasis. It typically affects the fingernails more than the toenails, and can even be an indicator of psoriatic arthritis.

Most people with psoriasis will experience it
on their nails at some point. (DermNet NZ)
Nail psoriasis can be an indicator of psoriatic
arthritis. (Dermatology Atlas)



Genital Psoriasis

Genital psoriasis typically develops in people who have psoriasis on other parts of their body. Almost two-thirds of people with psoriasis will have genital psoriasis at some point in their lives. The skin in this area is extremely sensitive, so it is important to find a safe, effective treatment with the help of your dermatologist.

Consult a doctor if you have psoriasis on the genitals, as this sensitive skin may require special treatment. (DermNet NZ)


Genital psoriasis can affect several areas around the genitals, including:

  • Inner and upper thigh
  • The crease between the thigh and genital area
  • The skin above the genital area
  • Vulva, scrotum, or penis
  • The crease between the buttocks

Types of Psoriasis

There are five main types of psoriasis — plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, and erythrodermic psoriasis. Each type can be found in various locations on the body and is treated differently.

Plaque Psoriasis

The most common type of psoriasis — plaque psoriasis — makes up 80 percent of psoriasis cases. Also called psoriasis vulgaris, plaque psoriasis typically affects the elbows, knees, back, torso, and scalp, but may appear elsewhere. The condition is characterized by thick patches (plaques) of skin that can crack or bleed where the skin bends at joints.

Plaque psoriasis can form thick patches on the
elbows that crack when the arm bends.
(DermNet NZ)
Plaque psoriasis can appear in small patches
or cover large areas.
(DermNet NZ)

On lighter skin, plaques are often covered with silver or white scales caused by the buildup of dead skin cells. On darker skin, plaques may be thicker with gray, purple, or brown coloring. Plaques can become inflamed, causing intense itching, burning, and soreness.

On lighter skin, plaques are often covered
with silver or white scales. (DermNet NZ)
On darker skin, plaques may be thicker with
gray, purple, or brown coloring.
(Dermatology Atlas)

Topical therapies like creams, ointments, and moisturizers are commonly used to treat plaque psoriasis. These contain anti-inflammatory active ingredients, such as:

  • Vitamin D
  • Corticosteroids
  • Coal tar
  • Salicylic acid

Topicals are usually the starting point of treatment. In more severe cases that are spread over large areas of the body, oral or injected immunomodulating drugs (known as biologics) may be necessary to control plaque psoriasis.

Read more about plaque psoriasis.

Guttate Psoriasis

In guttate psoriasis, patches of rash are small and scaly and have a round, oval, or teardrop shape. Lesions may look red or pink on people with pale skin and darkened on people with darker skin. Guttate psoriasis can affect any part of the body except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, but it is commonly confined to the arms, legs, chest, and scalp. In some people, guttate psoriasis causes itching.

Guttate psoriasis forms smaller oval-shaped
rashes. (DermNet NZ)

Guttate psoriasis is most common in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Some people experience recurrent bouts of guttate psoriasis, but others only have one episode that never repeats. Bouts are often triggered by bacterial or viral infections, such as strep throat caused by a streptococcal infection. Unlike infections, guttate psoriasis is not contagious and will not spread to others. Topical steroids and other treatments are usually effective for controlling guttate psoriasis, but it may also respond to phototherapy or systemic medications.

Read more about guttate psoriasis.

Inverse Psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis appears as dark, shiny rashes
rather than the flaking of plaque psoriasis.
(DermNet NZ/Professor Raimo Suhonen)

Also called flexural or intertriginous psoriasis, inverse psoriasis causes smooth patches of red skin that feel painful. The characteristic silvery, scaly patches of psoriasis are often not seen in this form. Inverse psoriasis is more common in overweight people and usually appears in skin folds where sweat and friction occur — such as the armpits, genitals, and under the breasts. Other causes include infections, taking certain medications, and stress.

Treating inverse psoriasis can be challenging because the areas it appears tend to be extremely sensitive. Medication also absorbs more effectively there, increasing the likelihood of side effects. Some treatments that work for other types of psoriasis tend to irritate inverse psoriasis. It is often misdiagnosed as a fungal infection because it can look like jock itch. Your health care provider may also recommend powders to help keep the moist areas dry.

Read more about inverse psoriasis.

Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis, an uncommon form of the disease, causes intensely red or darkened skin with sterile, pus-filled blisters (pustules). The skin around the blisters may be prone to cracking and peeling. After the blisters form, they merge and burst, leaving crusty skin.

Palmoplantar pustulosis causes sterile,
pus-filled blisters on the hands or feet.
(DermNet NZ)
Generalized pustular psoriasis can appear nearly
anywhere on the body and requires
urgent medical care. (DermNet NZ)


There are two subtypes of pustular psoriasis. Palmoplantar pustulosis (PPP), also called acropustulosis, is limited to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP), also referred to as von Zumbusch psoriasis, is widespread. Pustular psoriasis is very painful and can be debilitating. In particular, GPP can be life-threatening, requires urgent medical treatment, and may require hospitalization.

Both generalized pustular psoriasis and palmoplantar psoriasis cause many small pus-filled blisters to erupt on the skin. (Adobe)

Pustular psoriasis can occur at any age. Flares-ups can come on rapidly and be accompanied by fever and malaise. Pustular psoriasis can be difficult to treat and prone to flares. If topical treatment fails, systemic treatment such as methotrexate or cyclosporine may be required. Psoralen + UVA treatment — which uses ultraviolet light — can also be helpful.

Read more about pustular psoriasis.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

Erythrodermic psoriasis, the rarest type
of psoriasis, is highly inflammatory
and may affect the whole body.
(DermNet NZ)

Erythrodermic psoriasis, also called exfoliative psoriasis, is the rarest type of psoriasis. This highly inflammatory form can affect the whole body, causing a bright red rash that itches, burns, and peels off in sheets. Skin affected by erythrodermic psoriasis can look similar to a sunburn. Approximately 2 percent of people with psoriasis experience a bout of erythrodermic psoriasis at least once during their lives. Erythrodermic psoriasis may accompany a flare of generalized pustular psoriasis.

Other symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty controlling body temperature, especially on hot or cold days
  • Shivering
  • Edema (swelling), particularly in the feet and ankles

Erythrodermic psoriasis can be life-threatening. It requires immediate medical treatment and hospitalization to help your body regulate fluid balance and temperature. Treatment usually involves a combination of systemic immunomodulators, topicals, and oral treatments.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis can cause inflammatory pain, swelling, and progressive damage in any joint in the body. Researchers estimate that about 30 percent of those with skin psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. It is possible to have psoriatic arthritis without skin psoriasis. Typically, psoriatic arthritis develops between the ages of 30 and 50, but it can occur earlier, even in children.

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can include:

  • Dactylitis, a painful swelling in the fingers or toes sometimes referred to as “sausage digits”
  • Enthesitis, a condition characterized by pain or tenderness where ligaments and tendons attach to bone
  • White spots, flaking, pitting (shallow or deep dents) of the nails, or lifting of the nail bed

Treatment of psoriatic arthritis includes pain management as well medications that halt the progression of joint damage.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 108,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Are you living with psoriasis? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Emily Wagner, M.S. holds a Master of Science in biomedical sciences with a focus in pharmacology. She is passionate about immunology, cancer biology, and molecular biology. Learn more about her here.
Kelly Crumrin is a senior editor at MyHealthTeam and leads the creation of content that educates and empowers people with chronic illnesses. Learn more about her here.

Related articles

Psoriasis is not a fatal disease, but it does increase the risk of comorbidities (coinciding...

Does Psoriasis Affect Life Expectancy?

Psoriasis is not a fatal disease, but it does increase the risk of comorbidities (coinciding...
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a type of inflammatory arthritis characterized by joint pain,...

Psoriatic Arthritis — An Overview

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a type of inflammatory arthritis characterized by joint pain,...
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) doesn’t have physician-defined stages like rheumatoid arthritis does....

Psoriatic Arthritis Stages and Progression

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) doesn’t have physician-defined stages like rheumatoid arthritis does....
There is no cure for psoriasis, but it is possible to achieve remission. Remission from plaque...

Psoriasis Remission: What Can You Expect?

There is no cure for psoriasis, but it is possible to achieve remission. Remission from plaque...
Around one-third of the 7.5 million people in America living with psoriasis also have the...

Psoriatic Arthritis of the Spine: Symptoms, Treatments, and Diagnosis

Around one-third of the 7.5 million people in America living with psoriasis also have the...
If you’re living with psoriasis — or you have a loved one with the condition — it’s likely that...

Quiz: Do You Know These Key Facts About Psoriasis?

If you’re living with psoriasis — or you have a loved one with the condition — it’s likely that...

Recent articles

Diagnosed with psoriasis in 2010, Vanessa Scott has learned to manage her condition and overcome...

Living With Psoriasis: Managing Flare-ups and Embracing Life

Diagnosed with psoriasis in 2010, Vanessa Scott has learned to manage her condition and overcome...
Nearly 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) had symptoms of skin psoriasis...

Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosis and Tests

Nearly 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) had symptoms of skin psoriasis...
Treatment for psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can help you reduce painful symptoms and control disease...

Treatments for Psoriatic Arthritis

Treatment for psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can help you reduce painful symptoms and control disease...
Psoriasis occurs when something goes wrong with your immune system. Your immune cells become...

T Cells in Psoriasis: A Simplified Guide

Psoriasis occurs when something goes wrong with your immune system. Your immune cells become...
The risk for developing psoriasis is associated with many factors, including genetics and...

Psoriasis and Ethnicity: Is Race a Risk Factor?

The risk for developing psoriasis is associated with many factors, including genetics and...
Erythrodermic psoriasis affects an estimated 1 percent to 2.25 percent of people living with...

Erythrodermic Psoriasis: Symptoms and Photos

Erythrodermic psoriasis affects an estimated 1 percent to 2.25 percent of people living with...
MyPsoriasisTeam My psoriasis Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close