Psoriasis Symptoms

Psoriasis symptoms typically include patches of red, inflamed skin covered with loose silver scales. These patches may, in serious cases, grow larger and run into each other over wide areas of the skin. The fingernails and toenails may change color and become pitted, or may crumble and detach from the nail bed. Additional symptoms include dry, cracked skin that may bleed, scaly patches or crust forming on the scalp, and itching, burning or soreness of the skin. In most people with psoriasis, the disease goes through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time. It may also go into remission.


There are five types of psoriasis, each with its own set of symptoms, though some people may have more than one form:

  • Plaque psoriasis, the most common form, appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells called plaques.
  • Guttate psoriasis appears as small, dot-like lesions and often begins in childhood, typically triggered by a strep throat infection. It is the second most common type after plaque psoriasis.
  • Inverse psoriasis occurs in the folds of the body such as behind the knees, and is characterized by very red lesions that may appear smooth or shiny.
  • Pustular psoriasis is marked by white pustules or blisters that contain white blood cells.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis is a rare, severe form that leads to fiery redness over most of the body. It can cause severe itching and pain, and can cause the skin to come off in sheets, which requires emergency attention.

Psoriasis and Pain

It is common for the skin to crack, which can cause intense pain. The cracking and bleeding skin can be a constant problem, meaning the person is in constant pain. The skin may also burn or feel sore. Even if they don’t crack, psoriasis lesions can often be painful and itchy. The itching and pain can interfere with basic daily activities including self-care, sleep and even walking. People with painful plaques on the hands and feet may have difficulty with exercise, performing certain occupations or doing household tasks.

Up to 30 percent of psoriasis patients also experience psoriatic arthritis and its associated joint pain, joint swelling and in some cases, inability to perform daily tasks. There is also the psychological pain that many patients endure out of a sense of shame or embarrassment over their skin’s appearance. Many people with psoriasis isolate themselves or avoid social activities because of this shame.