According to the World Psoriasis Day consortium, 125 million people all over the world―that makes it 2 to 3% of the total population―suffer from psoriasis. Also currently, 7.5 million Americans, i.e., about 2.2% of the US population, are afflicted with this skin disease.

A person affected with psoriasis suffers from rapid growth of skin cells. The process of growth and shedding of skin cells is a gradual one, but in psoriasis, the growth of skin cells outpaces that of cell shedding. As a result, there is proliferation of cells at the outermost layer of the skin, giving rise to red and white scaly patches, a condition referred to as psoriasis. In this write-up, we describe the main types of psoriasis.

Plaque Psoriasis

Areas Affected: This type of psoriasis is typically marked by thick, red patches of inflamed skin that commonly occur on the back, elbows, armpits, knees and the scalp, but seldom on the soles and palms.

% of Occurrence: About 8 in 10 people
There is a formation of silvery-white-looking scales on top of these red patches (plaques). These patches can be easily distinguished from normal skin, as they have a well-defined border. In these abnormal regions of the skin, the cells multiply rapidly, thereby, increasing the requirement for blood circulation. The increased blood flow is what gives peculiar redness to these patches. This is usually a chronic condition that takes years to resolve.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

Areas Affected: Most of the body parts

% of Occurrence: It occurs at least once in the lifetime of 3% of psoriasis patients.
This is the most severe form of psoriasis as it is not localized. The condition is marked by scary outbreak of red, inflamed skin that exfoliates extensively to give the appearance of burned skin. The condition is debilitating as it can cause excruciating pain. The rapid exfoliation of the skin is a serious concern as it can lead to dehydration, severe protein loss, edema, and even congestive heart failure. Hence, urgent medical attention is necessary to avoid any complications. Severe sunburn, alcohol addiction, and use of cortisone medications are some of the factors that may result in this skin condition.

Inverse Psoriasis

Areas Affected: It generally affects the body folds such as the armpits, under the breast, between the buttocks, and appears as a large, red lesion.

% of Occurrence: Comprises 3-7% of the cases
Also referred to as seborrheic-like psoriasis, inverse psoriasis is quite uncommon as depicted by the percentage of occurrence. The lesion is well-demarcated and has a distinct shine on it. Inverse psoriasis can be very annoying because the site of occurrence frequently causes sweating and skin-to-skin contact, which can cause a lot of discomfort. Although the lesion is smooth, the skin at the fold may split open and eventually bleed. A fungal infection (yeast overgrowth) may be the cause of inverse psoriasis.

Guttate Psoriasis

Areas Affected: People with guttate psoriasis show red spots often on the back, torso, legs, and arms.

% of Occurrence: Below 2%
Also referred to as 'teardrop' psoriasis, guttate psoriasis is characterized by formation of tear-shaped, thick, red spots that can be as large as a centimeter in diameter. This type of psoriasis that usually affects children and young adults is seen post a bacterial throat infection. The skin problem may begin with strep throat that will eventually cause widespread appearance of small, red lesions. So, once the red lesions start appearing, they spread and cover the affected area within no time. In most cases, treatment isn't necessary as the skin problem resolves after a few weeks.

Pustular Psoriasis

Areas Affected: Generalized pustular psoriasis has a wide distribution, while the localized version affects the feet and hands.

% of Occurrence: About 1.7%
As the name suggests, in this condition, the affected skin turns red followed by formation of pustules―pus-filled, white blisters. Unlike other forms of psoriasis that cause generalized reddening of the skin, in pustular psoriasis, the redness is restricted to the area around the pustules. Also, white pustules with a red background appear scattered over the affected area.

In case of generalized pustular psoriasis, the widespread occurrence of white pustules is followed by fever, chills, nausea, and rapid heartbeat. On the other hand, localized pustular psoriasis usually affects the hands and the feet without showing any other symptoms. Use of inappropriate skin creams, excessive exposure to sunlight, treatment with corticosteroids, pregnancy, and sudden discontinuation of psoriasis treatment are some of the common risk factors in the onset of pustular psoriasis.

Psoriatic Arthritis

% of Occurrence: Presently, psoriatic arthritic patients account for 10-30% of cases of psoriasis.
As the name suggests, this inflammatory condition is a mix of psoriasis and arthritis. People with chronic psoriasis, that lasts for 5-10 years, may eventually develop arthritis, a condition that is marked by joint inflammation and stiffness. This condition is not gender-specific, and it usually affects people in the age group of 20 to 50.

Nail Psoriasis

% of Occurrence: Up to 50% of patients diagnosed with psoriasis develop nail psoriasis.
Strictly speaking, it is not a type of psoriasis, but a repercussion of this condition that affects the nails as well. The nail color turning yellowish-brown, pitted nails (small dents on the surface of the nails), nail getting detached from its nail bed, nails becoming thickened and painful, and chalk-like debris formation underneath the nails are some of the symptoms.

As far as treatment is concerned, home remedies such as taking a bath with oatmeal or Epsom salt can help relieve inflammation and the itchy sensation associated with psoriasis. OTC medications such as calamine lotion or hydrocortisone creams may help relieve the itchiness and discomfort associated with psoriasis. However, it is best to consult a dermatologist to know the oral and topical medicines that work in combination to relieve psoriasis.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purpose only and does not in any way attempt to replace the diagnosis of a doctor. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.