There are many different forms of psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition affecting 1-3% of the population. It develops as red, itchy plaques covered with silvery scales, separate from the skin. Sometimes blisters can occur. While it can affect any part of the body, it is mostly seen on the knees and elbows, nails, and scalp.
The exact cause of psoriasis is not fully understood. However, several factors such as genetics, immunological, environmental, and psychological, play a role. While psoriasis is itchy, it isn’t caused by allergies and is not contagious.
When it comes to different stages of psoriasis, there is no formal classification, except generalized pustular psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis is described in three stages by some doctors.
Types of Psoriasis and the Stages
The American Academy of Dermatology Association documented basic types of psoriasis. These different types can happen on multiple parts of the body. Symptoms may also differ.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis. It’s seen in up to 90% of individuals with a diagnosis.
You can identify it by patches that are thick, raised, and itchy with a silvery coat. The size of the plaques varies and sometimes smaller plaques join to form a larger one.
New patches occur within seven to ten days after skin injury. We refer to this process as the Koebner phenomenon.
Individuals with guttate psoriasis often notice a quick development of tiny bumps during the early stages. These bumps mostly affect the torso, arms, and legs. Although, they can occur on the face and scalp as well. These bumps are small and scaly and can clear up in a few weeks without treatment.
When the bumps clear, they may never come back. In other cases, it becomes chronic with acute periods followed by remission.
Some may have plaque psoriasis and later develop guttate psoriasis. Infections like strep throat seem to occur before psoriasis too. This form is more often seen in children and young adults.
Inverse psoriasis is also known as intertriginous psoriasis. This form affects areas where the skin touches. For example, in the crease of the buttocks or genitals.
In the early stages, individuals will develop smooth, red, painful patches. However, they usually aren’t covered by silvery scales.
Many individuals with psoriasis notice changes in how their nails look. This is regardless of the type of psoriasis they have. The nails may have a white or brownish discoloration under them. They may also be rough or crumble with nail pits and buildup of skin cells beneath them.
Up to 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. Those with severe psoriasis are more likely to have it. In most cases, it will take several years until a person with psoriasis experiences joint pain and inflammation.
Joint stiffness is worse in the morning and improves later on during the day. Some doctors describe psoriatic arthritis in three stages. the first is the preclinical stage, characterized by non-specific joint pain, fatigue, and heel pain. The second stage, or early psoriatic arthritis, has symptoms of joint pain, nail changes, skin rashes, plantar fasciitis, or tennis elbow. Lastly, the third stage is the result of long-term inflammation. This causes frequent flare-ups, reduced movement in the affected joints, damage to joints and other organs.
Pustular psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that has pustules or pus-filled bumps that appear on the hands and feet. From the beginning, red, inflamed, and painful skin surrounds these pustules. Later on, the pustules dry out and brown spots and scales replace them.
A generalized form of pustular psoriasis is serious and potentially life-threatening. While it rarely develops, it requires prompt medical attention. In this case, the skin suddenly becomes red, dry, inflamed, and sore in the early stages. A few hours later, the pustules cover most of the skin. Within 24 hours, these pustules break, and the fluid leaks on the skin. In the next one to two days, the fluid dries and the skin starts to peel.
As this dry, damaged skin peels off, the skin underneath appears smooth and glazed. Following the next weeks, more pustules may develop. They can cover large areas of the skin and the cycle repeats. Other symptoms include fever, severe headaches, muscle weakness, and malaise.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is another serious, life-threatening form of psoriasis. You must treat it as soon as possible in a hospital as it can complicate with hypothermia.
The skin lesions it creates are very itchy and resemble skin burns. You can also develop fever, chills, and muscle weakness. A person with this condition appears very sick and has a rapid pulse.
The development of erythrodermic psoriasis is usually secondary to other forms of psoriasis.
How to Manage Forms of Psoriasis
Always seek professional advice if you receive a psoriasis diagnosis. This is a chronic condition that requires proper care and treatment. A dermatologist can help you find the right one for different forms of psoriasis.
You can also consult a healthcare professional or nutritionist about dietary changes. Changes in your diet and adding supplements could also help you manage psoriasis.