Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to accumulate rapidly. This cell accumulation causes scaling on the surface of the skin.

It is relatively common to experience inflammation and redness around the scales. Typical psoriatic scales develop in thick, red patches and are whitish-silver. These patches will crack and bleed sometimes.

The result of an accelerated process of skin production is psoriasis. Skin cells typically grow deep in the skin and slowly rise to the surface. They fall off eventually. A skin cell has a typical life cycle of one month.

This production process may occur in just a couple of days in people with psoriasis. Skin cells have little time to fall off because of this. This rapid overproduction results in the accumulation of skin cells.

On joints, such as elbows and knees, scales usually develop. They can develop anywhere in the body, including the following:

  • hands
  • feet
  • neck
  • scalp
  • face

Less common types of psoriasis affect the nails, mouth, and area around the genitals.

Roughly 7.4 million Americans have psoriasis, according to one study. Several other conditions are commonly associated with it, including:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • heart disease
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • anxiety
  • depression

Types of Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis

The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) reports that plaque psoriasis is present in approximately 80 percent of people with the disease. Red, swollen patches that cover the areas of the skin are caused by it. These patches are mostly covered with white-silver scales or plaque. These plaques are commonly located on the elbows, knees, and scalp.

Guttate psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis is prevalent in infancy. This type of psoriasis causes little pink spots. The torso, arms, and legs are the most common guttate psoriasis locations. Like plaque psoriasis, these spots are rarely dense or raised.

Pustular psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis is more common in adults. White, pus-filled blisters and large areas of red, swollen skin are caused by it. Pustular psoriasis is usually found in smaller areas of the body, including the hands or legs, but may be widespread.

Inverse psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis causes red, shiny, inflamed skin to have bright areas. Under the armpits or breasts, in the groin, or around skin folds in the genitals, patches of inverse psoriasis develop.

Erythrodermic psoriasis

A severe and sporadic form of psoriasis is erythrodermic psoriasis.

Sometimes, this type encompasses large parts of the body at once. The skin is almost sunburned. In vast amounts or sheets, scales that sometimes grow slough off. Running a fever or being very sick is not unusual for a person with this form of psoriasis.

This form can be life-threatening, so people should immediately see a physician. 

Psoriasis symptoms

Psoriasis symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the sort of psoriasis. Areas of psoriasis on the scalp or elbow may be as small as a few flakes or cover most of the body.

The signs of plaque psoriasis most often include:

  • Red, elevated, inflamed skin patches
  • On the red patches, whitish-silver scales or plaques
  • Dry skin which can crack and bleed
  • Painfulness around patches
  • Sensations of itching and burning around patches
  • Nails that are thick pitted
  • Joints that are sore, swollen

Not every person will experience all of these symptoms. If they have a less common type of psoriasis, particular individuals will experience completely different symptoms.

Many people with psoriasis go through symptomatic “cycles.” For a few days or weeks, the disease can cause severe symptoms, and then the symptoms can clear up and be almost unnoticeable. Then, the condition could flare up again in a few weeks or be triggered by a common psoriasis cause. Often, the symptoms of psoriasis disappear.

You could be in “remission” because you have no active symptoms of the disease. That doesn’t guarantee psoriasis won’t come back, but you’re symptom-free for now.

Psoriasis is not contagious. The skin condition can’t be passed on from one person to another. Touching another individual with a psoriatic lesion will not cause you to develop the disease.


It is unclear to doctors as to what causes psoriasis. However, they have a general idea of two key factors, thanks to decades of research: genetics and the immune system.

Immune system

An autoimmune condition is a psoriasis. The consequence of the body attacking itself is autoimmune conditions. White blood cells known as T cells erroneously attack skin cells in the case of psoriasis.

White blood cells are deployed in a typical organism to attack and destroy invading bacteria and fight infections. This erroneous attack causes the production of skin cells to go into overdrive. The sped-up production of skin cells causes new skin cells to develop too quickly. They are pushed up to the skin’s surface, where they pile up.

This results in the plaques that are associated with psoriasis most frequently. The attacks on skin cells also trigger the development of red, inflamed skin areas.


Some individuals inherit genes that make psoriasis more likely to develop. Your risk of developing psoriasis is higher when you have an immediate family member with a skin condition. However, the percentage of individuals who have psoriasis and a genetic predisposition is small. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 2 to 3 percent of individuals with the gene develop the condition (NPF).


Physical examination

With a simple physical exam, most physicians can make a diagnosis. Typically, psoriasis symptoms are apparent and easy to differentiate from other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.

Be sure to show all areas of concern to your doctor during this exam. Furthermore, let your doctor know if any family members have the condition.


A small sample of the skin can be taken if the signs are unclear or if your doctor needs to confirm your suspected diagnosis. It’s known as a biopsy.

The skin is sent to a laboratory, where it is examined under a microscope. The exam can diagnose the kind of psoriasis that you have. It can also rule out other possible infections or disorders.

Most biopsies are done in your doctor’s office on the day of your appointment. To make the biopsy less painful, your doctor will probably inject a local numbing drug. They will then send the biopsy for analysis to a laboratory.

Your doctor may request an appointment to discuss the findings and treatment options with you when the results come back.