About Psoriasis: Symptoms and Complications

The typical psoriasis blister or lesion is a sharply demarcated red area covered in white or silvery scales. This is plaque psoriasis or psoriasis vulgaris, the commonest form of the disease. The knees, elbows, scalp, and trunk are the areas most frequently affected.

Guttate psoriasis gets its name from the Latin for "drops," because the lesions are often teardrop-shaped. When a flare-up is provoked by illness or medication, it's often guttate in form. Guttate lesions usually occur on the trunk, arms and legs.

Inverse psoriasis is particularly painful. Normally, psoriasis affects the skin around the outside of joints. Inverse psoriasis affects the inside skin: the armpits, for example, or the groin. The tendency of these areas to sweat and rub together makes for extra discomfort. In addition, they're more vulnerable to fungal infection.

In erythrodermic psoriasis, there are no individual lesions - the whole affected area is red and inflamed. In severe cases, the whole body can be covered.

In pustular psoriasis, the white blood cells rise to the surface to fill pustules. It is often found on the hands and the soles of the feet.

Sometimes psoriasis affects the nails. These can become brittle and cracked, or they may even separate from their beds.

These types of psoriasis aren't separate diseases, but different symptoms of the same disease. In some cases, one person will have more than one type of psoriasis.

The most common complications of psoriasis are psychological. Any disfiguring disease can have severe effects on self-esteem and sociability. At worst, people can cut themselves off completely from the outside world. Fortunately, psoriasis lesions don't leave scars, so the disfiguration isn't permanent, though it will probably recur.

Psoriatic arthritis is a serious complication of psoriasis. This immune disease affects 7% of all psoriasis sufferers. Essentially, the same undesirable immune activity that causes such havoc on the skin also attacks the joints. The disease is just as debilitating as rheumatoid arthritis, and affects the same joints: hands, feet, knees, hips, and spine.

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