Last updated on 11/18/2022 by the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Locations and Types
Psoriasis can appear in any location on the body.
Everyone experiences their own unique expression of the disease. Maybe it covers only your extremities or trunk, or maybe it is on your scalp.
Your care team will help you treat and address the specific type of psoriasis you experience, and treatment may vary depending on the location on the skin. (Learn how to take care of your skin when living with psoriasis with our free guide.) Below are common locations for the expressions of psoriasis and a look at the five types of psoriasis.
Genital psoriasis is very common. Up to two-thirds of people with psoriasis experience genital psoriasis at some point in their lives. Genital psoriasis can affect the skin in the genital area, as well as the inner and upper thighs. (Request a free genital psoriasis guide.)
Facial psoriasis affects about 50 percent of people living with psoriasis. It can affect any area on the face including the eyebrows, the skin between the nose and upper lip, as well as the upper forehead.
Hands, Feet, and Nails
Hands, feet, and nails can also be affected by psoriasis. Palmoplantar psoriasis (PPP) refers to psoriasis that affects the palms of the hands and/or the soles of the feet. Between 12 and 16 percent of people living with psoriasis have palmoplantar psoriasis. Nail changes can also occur in 50 percent of people living with psoriasis.
Skin folds such as under the arms and breasts can also be affected by psoriasis. These areas are often irritated by rubbing and sweating.
Types of Psoriasis
Guttate psoriasis affects roughly 8 percent of people living with psoriasis. Signs of guttate psoriasis include small, round, red or discolored spots caused by inflammation. Guttate psoriasis often appears on the arms, legs, and torso; however, it can affect any area of the body.
Pustular psoriasis affects about 3 percent of people living with psoriasis. Symptoms include pustules (white, pus-filled, painful bumps) that may be surrounded by inflamed or reddened/discolored skin. Pustular psoriasis may appear only on certain areas of the body, such as the hands and feet, or it may cover most of the body.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type, affecting up to 80 percent of those with psoriasis. Plaques can appear anywhere on the body as raised patches of inflamed, itchy, and painful skin with scales. For some people, the skin may be red with silvery-white scales. For others, plaques may look more purple. This may depend on the skin type of the individual. These plaques most often appear on the scalp, knees, elbows, and in or around the belly button and lower back. However, it can affect any area of the body.
Inverse psoriasis affects one-quarter of people living with psoriasis. Signs of inverse psoriasis include inflamed deep-red or darkened skin that is smooth and not scaly. Inverse psoriasis affects skin folds in the body such as underarms, under breasts, the genital area, and buttocks. It can cause severe itching and pain and can be worsened by sweat and rubbing in these areas.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is rare, affecting about two percent of people living with psoriasis. This type of psoriasis can cause intense redness or discoloration and shedding of skin layers in large sheets. It often affects nearly the whole body and can be life-threatening. Other symptoms include severe itching and pain, changes in heart rate and temperature, dehydration, and nail changes. It is important to see a health care provider immediately during an erythrodermic flare.
Guttate image credit: Courtesy of Joel M Gelfand MD
Plaque image credit: Courtesy of Joel M Gelfand MD
Erythrodermic image credit: Wikimedia Common