What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes a dry, red and scaly rash on the skin. It can develop at any age. Psoriasis is not contagious. This means you cannot catch it or spread it to other people.

What causes psoriasis?

We do not know what causes psoriasis. But we do know it is no one’s fault. We also know that a person’s genetics (family history) and immune system (system that fights off germs) play a role. Certain things can also bring out psoriasis or make it worse, like strep throat, colds, ear infections or skin injuries.

What are the symptoms of psoriasis?

Dry, red, scaly and itchy patches on the skin. These patches can sometimes burn. The patches come and go. They can also stay for long periods of time.

What are the different types of psoriasis?

  • Plaque psoriasis
    Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. The scaly patches are usually on the elbows, knees and scalp.
  • Guttate psoriasis
    Guttate psoriasis is more common in children. The rash looks like small raindrops. Guttate psoriasis usually shows up on the stomach, chest and back. In some cases, the rash can also show up on the face, genitals and nails. This may be related to strep throat infection or viral illnesses in some cases.
  • Psoriatic arthritis
    Some people with psoriasis on the skin can also get joint aches in the fingers, legs, back and other places.

How common is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is common. It affects 1-2 out of every 100 people.

Rev. 5/2017. Reviewed by the MGHfC Family Advisory Council. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.