Complications of Psoriasis

The good news about psoriasis is that it’s not contagious.

HEALTH Psoriasis is an incurable skin condition where surface skin cells build up about 50 percent more rapidly than normal. [1] Silvery, itchy scales and painful red patches can appear on the scalp, eyelids, ears, mouth and lips, skin folds, hands and feet, nails or other areas of the body. It is chronic but can go into remission for a time.


How do you get psoriasis? Though generally treated by dermatologists, psoriasis is believed to be a genetic autoimmune disorder for which some may seek assistance of rheumatologists. To avoid public attention, patients tend to cover arms with long sleeves, trousers, bathe and shampoo frequently to remove flakes, or wear hairstyles that mask scalp patches.

Types of Psoriasis [2]
Classification Presentation and Differentiation Typical Location
Plaque Psoriasis Most common condition presents dry, red, itchy, raised, skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales that may periodically crack and bleed. Anywhere on body, including genitals, joints and mouth.
Scalp Psoriasis Red, itchy, silvery-white scales somewhat thicker and dryer than those of seborrheic dermatitis.* Scalp and hairline.
Guttate Psoriais Proliferation of small, scale coverred, water-drop-shaped sores. Trunk, arms, legs, scalp.
Inverse Psoriasis Smooth (rather than scaly) patches of inflammed skin. Armpits, groin, under breasts, around genitals.
Psoriasis of Areola & Nipples Redness, flaking, and discoloration. Breasts, areolae, and nipples.
Nail Psoriasis Pitting, abnormal growth patterns, and discoloration. Fingernails and toenails.
Pustular Psoriasis Uncommon, widespread recurring pus-filled patches lasting a 24-48 hours. May be accompanied by fever, chills, severe itching and fatigue. Smaller areas of hands, feet, finger tips.
Psoriatic Arthritis Plaque psoriasis is accompanied by pitted nails and mild to severe painful joints (symmetric arthritis; asymmetric arthritis; distal interphalangeal predominant; spondylitis; arthritis mutilans). Any joints.
Erythrodermic Psoriasis Least common psoriasis is characterized by intense burning red rash. Can cover entire body.
With significant variation in appearance, evaluation should be made by skilled dermatologist. This information is not meant as a substitute for professional advice.

* Though there isn't a test to distinguish between psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis (eczema or dandruff) of the scalp, prescription and over-the-counter treatments overlap. Limited sunlight has been known to improve symptoms. Doctors usually make a diagnosis by visual examination of the affected skin. [3]

Psoriasis That Is More Than Skin Deep

Plaque Psoriasis

For some of the 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis, it can advance to more than a nuisance, becoming socially and physically debilitating. Continued scratching may cause thickened skin and bacterial skin infections. Pustular psoriasis can trigger fluid and electrolyte imbalances. Low self-esteem, depression, stress, anxiety and isolation can occur for those self-conscience about their appearance. (Severe plaque psoriasis shown [4].)

Those with psoriasis also have a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowl disease  cardiovascular disease, and possibly cancer. One in 10 patients with psoriasis in the skin may later develop one of five types of psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can develop at any age, but it most commonly appears in patients between 30 and 50 years old. This can develop into inflammation of tendons, cartilage, eyes, lung lining, and, rarely, the aorta. Early symptoms are inflamed joints that become painful, swollen, hot and red. [2,5]

There is no definitive test for psoriatic arthritis. The diagnosis is made mostly on a clinical basis and by a process of elimination. A certain antibody, called a rheumatoid factor, is normally present in rheumatoid arthritis but is not usually found in the blood of psoriatic arthritis patients. It it commonly misdiagnosed as gout, because patients often have elevated serum uric acid levels. This may be caused by a regimen of low-dose aspirin for inflammation or by increased skin cell proliferation. [6]

In a few cases, psoriasis is preceded by psoriatic arthritis. Most of the time psoriatic arthritis follows the abnormal skin condition(s). If you develop joint pain and have a history of psoriasis, there are treatments to manage pain. Consult your doctor or references supplied by the GRAPPA network of dermatologists and rheumatologists. [7]

Tags: aching joints, cardiology, dermatologic, dermatosis, epidermis, pityriasis capitis 

  1. Cell Proliferation in Normal Epidermis.
  2. Psoriasis symptoms and complications.
  3. Difference between scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
  4. Psoriasis.
  5. Types of psoriatic arthritis.
  6. Psoriatic arthritis.
  7. Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.
  8. Psoriasis of Areola & Nipples recommendations for management.