Psoriasis Symptoms

Getting familiar with your psoriasis symptoms will help you be prepared for a conversation with your doctor.

Psoriasis Types and Symptoms

A doctor talks about the different types of psoriasis and the symptoms associated with them.

Dr. Menter is chairman of the Division of Dermatology at a prominent U.S. academic medical center. Dr. Menter is also a paid consultant of AbbVie.

Common Symptoms of Psoriasis

Not everyone with psoriasis experiences the same symptoms, which can vary from person to person based on the severity and type of psoriasis. However, common symptoms may include:

  • Raised, red, inflamed lesions

  • Silvery scaly plaques

  • Small, red, individual spots (more common in children and young adults)

  • Dry skin that may crack and bleed

  • Itching, burning, or soreness of the skin

  • Pitted nails or separation from the nail bed

Where Is Your Psoriasis?

The most common areas for psoriasis to appear include the knees, elbows, and torso. However, psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, hands, feet, nails, genitals, and skin folds. Because the skin in each of these body areas is different, they may require different treatments.

If you have pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints, you could be experiencing symptoms of a related condition called psoriatic arthritis.

Be sure to let your doctor know about any symptoms you are having.

Psoriasis and Itching

Do you experience the burning and biting itch known as “psoriatic itch”? Some people find the itch more difficult to tolerate than visible redness and scales on their skin.

Always tell your doctor about the itch and get recommendations for managing it. Your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications:

  • Antihistamine

  • Phototherapy

  • Steroids

  • Topical anesthetics

There are also steps you can take at home to soothe psoriasis symptoms, such as:

  • Keeping your skin moisturized

  • Applying a keratolytic (a cream to soften skin scales)

  • Showering in cold water or using a cold pack. Stay away from hot water, which can dry skin further

You may want to ask your pharmacist for additional recommendations. Always be sure to talk with your doctor before making any changes in medications or routines.

Cycles and Flare-ups

Most people with psoriasis go through cycles where their psoriasis symptoms seem almost to disappear for a period, then flare up again. Although it may not be possible to control them completely, certain behaviors may worsen existing symptoms or cause flare-ups, including smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and cold weather.

Making lifestyle changes, like eating healthy or not smoking, can be challenging. But they could positively impact your life with psoriasis.