7 Types of psoriasis – from scalp to arthritis

Understand more about your condition

We tend to think of psoriasis as a single condition, but there are, in fact, several different types.

Plaque psoriasis

This is the most common form, affecting about 80% of people with psoriasis. It can appear anywhere but is mostly found on the elbows, knees, back and scalp. Symptoms include raised, red areas – called plaques – covered by silvery-white scales that shed regularly. Severe cases can be disabling and may require light therapy, oral medication or injections.

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Scalp psoriasis

Affecting between 50% and 80% of people with psoriasis, the condition itself is actually the same as plaque psoriasis. Scalp psoriasis ranges from very mild (slight, fine scaling) to very severe, with thick crusted plaques covering the entire scalp and extending beyond the hairline onto the forehead, the back of the neck and around the ears.

Guttate psoriasis

This type affects about 10% of people with psoriasis – mostly children or adolescents – and appears as small, red, scaly dots which look like drops of red water sprinkled over the body. Mild cases may disappear without treatment, but can reappear later in life. Severe cases can be disabling and may require light therapy or oral medication.


Pustular psoriasis

Less than 5% of people with psoriasis are affected by pustular psoriasis. It can appear as a complication to plaque psoriasis, as a result of taking certain medicines, or as a result of stopping psoriasis treatments too quickly. Plaques are characterised by pustules (raised bumps filled with pus), with the hands and feet most affected.

Psoriasis is a single name that covers a number of different conditions. Learning more about each type of psoriasis can help you understand your symptoms.

Flexural or inverse psoriasis

Less common, this usually occurs on the armpits, groin, around the genitals and buttocks, under the breasts and in other skin folds. It appears as bright red, smooth patches around the folds of the skin and, at its edges, can cause cracks in the skin. It can be aggravated by sweat and by skin rubbing together because of its location.

Psoriatic arthritis

About 10% of people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis and in most cases the arthritis develops after the psoriasis – most commonly within 10 years after the psoriasis first develops. Psoriatic arthritis causes inflammation, pain, and swelling of joints and the severity can vary from mild to severe. In addition, men and women are equally affected.

Erythrodermic psoriasis

This is one of the most severe forms of psoriasis and can be life-threatening because it often affects most of the body surface, compromising large areas of skin. However,  it can be successfully treated and managed by dermatologists. 


UK/IE 2013b/00072, Date of prep: April 2015

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