The 5 Most Common Types of Psoriasis: Which One Do You Have?
Worldwide, more than 125 million people have psoriasis, including more than eight million in the United States, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. But just because your friend, cousin, or coworker has this autoimmune condition doesn’t mean they have the exact same symptoms as you. In fact, there are five main types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic. And each one comes with a unique set of concerns. Knowing which type you have can help you understand what’s happening with your body so you and your doctor can determine the most effective treatment.
A whopping 80 percent of people diagnosed with psoriasis have the most common form: plaque psoriasis. Typically, skin cells take about a month to grow deep in your skin and then rise to the surface. But in plaque psoriasis, cells rise in a matter of days, before they have had a chance to mature. The new cells and existing cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing raised, red patches covered with a silvery-white buildup of dead skin cells, called plaques. Plaque psoriasis is most often found on the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back. The plaques, also known as psoriatic lesions, are often itchy or painful and can crack and bleed.
“If only a small area of the body is affected, this type of psoriasis is often treated with topical steroids,” according to M. Laurin Council, M.D., an associate professor of dermatology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Light therapy and systemic treatment, such as biologic medication taken orally or injected, is needed for larger areas of involvement.” Systemic treatments are those that work to surpress an overactive immune system; biologics are a type of systemic treatment that are often injected but are sometimed delivered by an IV infusion.