Genital Psoriasis

Up to two-thirds of people with psoriasis experience genital psoriasis.

Rarely does psoriasis affect only the genitals.

(Ryan et al., 2015)

Did You Know?

People with genital psoriasis typically experience psoriasis in other areas of their body. Treating psoriasis in an area with such sensitive skin requires specialized care. While genital psoriasis may not be often talked about, it is both common and manageable.

Genital psoriasis can affect various regions of the genital area:

  • Crease between the thigh and genital area
  • Vulva, penis or scrotum
  • Crease between the buttocks (including the skin around the anus)
  • Pubis (skin above the genitals)
  • Inner and upper thigh

Psoriasis on the genitals is considered a high-impact site, which can have an increased negative impact on quality of life, regardless of the total area affected by psoriasis.

Inverse psoriasis and plaque psoriasis are two common types of psoriasis that you may experience in the genital area.

Inverse psoriasis usually occurs in body folds such as the underarms, under breasts, and in the genital area. Symptoms include red or discolored skin that is smooth (not scaly) and may look tight. You may experience discomfort, pain, severe itching, and splitting of the skin. Inverse psoriasis may be worsened by sweat and rubbing in the body fold areas.

Plaque psoriasis often occurs on the scalp, knees, elbows, and torso, but can also appear on the genitals. For Caucasian skin, plaques can look red, with silvery, white buildup of dead skin cells. For skin of color, the discoloration may be darker and may look purple, gray, or dark brown. Some people experience discomfort, pain, itching, and cracking of the skin.

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Although genital psoriasis can be difficult to treat, a wide range of treatment options are available. It is important to work with a dermatologist to come up with a treatment plan that is best for you.


Topicals (applied directly on the skin) can work to moisturize, relieve pain and itch, reduce inflammation or slow the high rate of skin cell growth. Since the skin around the genitals is thinner, it can respond quickly to topical treatments. However, you must be careful to follow your provider’s instructions and not use more than recommended to limit side effects.

Biologics or Oral Treatments

Systemic treatments such as biologics and oral treatments are not typically prescribed for genital psoriasis alone. They can be effective in treating genital psoriasis and may be considered if you also have psoriasis in other places or if you have not responded well to other treatments.

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Ryan, C., Sadlier, M., De Vol, E., Patel, M., Lloyd, A. A., Day, A., . . . Menter, A. (2015). Genital psoriasis is associated with significant impairment in quality of life and sexual functioning. J Am Acad Dermatol, 72(6), 978-983. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2015.02.1127

Last updated on 2/8/2024 by the National Psoriasis Foundation.

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