Guttate Psoriasis Pictures
Seeing Spots: What Is Guttate Psoriasis?
Latin for “drop,” guttate describes a type of psoriasis in which the affected patches of skin appear as small, separated teardrops. Although guttate psoriasis can appear anywhere on the skin, it most commonly develops on the arms, legs, and torso.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, guttate psoriasis is the second most common form of psoriasis, affecting about 10 percent of people with the autoimmune condition (NPF, 2012). Although guttate psoriasis may develop into plaque psoriasis, the red and scaly spots may heal completely and permanently with treatment.
Plaque Psoriasis Versus Guttate Psoriasis
According to the National Institutes of Health, Plaque psoriasis, a chronic (lifelong) condition, is the most common form of psoriasis. Guttate most commonly occurs in young people (under the age of 30) and often develops very suddenly (NIH, 2011).
Both plaque psoriasis and guttate psoriasis frequently appear on the arms and legs—especially elbows and knees—and the skin has a similar appearance. However, guttate psoriasis appears in small patches that may be no larger than a dime. Plaque psoriasis may cover several square inches per patch.
The Inflammation of Guttate Psoriasis
Just as with plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis results from a miscommunication between the immune system and skin cells. The condition causes the production of skin cells to occur too quickly. The skin becomes inflamed, which leads to the pink and red patches, and dead cells build up.
The accumulation of dead skin cells, in turn, causes the characteristic white patches. The scales of skin may shed in large scales or in smaller pieces. If skin becomes very red or the surrounding area becomes swollen or painful to the touch, the area may be infected.
Lean on Me: Guttate Psoriasis on the Elbow
Guttate psoriasis, just like the other types of this condition, isn’t contagious. However, the small pink or red patches may be very irritating and noticeable. The inflamed skin may develop white or silvery scaly buildup similar to that commonly seen with plaque psoriasis. Skin discomfort can make ordinary actions, such as simply leaning with your elbows on a table, unpleasant.
Like Plaque, Like Guttate
In keeping with their similarities, guttate psoriasis often resembles small spots of isolated plaque psoriasis. The guttate patches may also receive the same initial treatment as plaque psoriasis.
Most dermatologists start treating mild cases of guttate psoriasis with a steroidal topical cream. If the cream fails, light therapy is often used, followed by a prescription for oral medication to suppress the immune system and allow the skin to clear.
Walk a Mile in Guttate’s Shoes
Although guttate psoriasis most frequently occurs on the arms, legs, and torso, it can occur anywhere on the body. The episode of guttate psoriasis shown here has affected the feet. Guttate psoriasis on the feet can turn certain types of socks, shoes, and everyday activities into itchy or painful challenges.
Stop, Look, and Listen—Guttate by the Earful
This case of guttate psoriasis shows the appearance of the “drops” behind the ear and toward the scalp. The inflamed skin can be quite itchy and very visible on the face, neck, or hands.
In some cases, guttate psoriasis can be difficult to distinguish from other skin problems such as dermatitis or eczema. If there is confusion about the diagnosis, your dermatologist may take a skin sample to examine in the laboratory before prescribing a treatment plan.
Here Comes Baby—Guttate Psoriasis on the Belly or Not!
Psoriasis does not prevent most people from leading full, healthy lives. In some cases, treatment plans may be tailored to a person’s lifestyle or specific needs. Guttate psoriasis can often be treated topically, but you may need prescription oral medications.
If you are being treated for guttate or any other type of psoriasis and you become pregnant, consult a physician before discontinuing or altering your regimen. Some systemic drugs may cause significant problems if they are withdrawn quickly.
Each Leg of the Journey
Guttate psoriasis like the type pictured may cover significant portions of the skin with dozens of small patches. The thick, red skin and scales may appear similar to plaque psoriasis if the spots are so close that they begin to almost merge.
According to the NIH, many people develop guttate psoriasis suddenly (NIH, 2011). Although a susceptibility to psoriasis runs in families, guttate psoriasis may develop in anyone. Young individuals with a family history and a recent strep throat infection are particularly at risk for guttate psoriasis.
When Guttate’s Not the Only Visitor
Guttate psoriasis need not occur in isolation. Many people have other skin conditions or illnesses at the same time. These comorbidities could include spider veins (shown in this photo), sun spotting, allergic rashes, sunburn, and other problems.
Broken skin in patches of guttate psoriasis may also make the skin more vulnerable to other maladies, such as infection. Avoid scratching and other skin irritants to help protect the integrity of the skin and prevent bleeding and complications.
Picture This: Guttate Psoriasis and Vitiligo in One
Chronic autoimmune conditions may easily come in pairs. Although the cause of vitiligo is unknown, some researchers believe it may also be an autoimmune condition. Vitiligo can be seen in this photo as the patch of skin with no color, occurring along with guttate psoriasis.
In addition, individuals with other conditions that affect the immune system—like AIDS or rheumatoid arthritis—may develop psoriasis as well. People with recent skin trauma, bacterial or viral infections, sunburn, or significant stress may also be more likely to develop psoriasis.
Up Close and Personal: The Nitty Gritty Guttate
Examining guttate psoriasis close-up may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but understanding the appearance of the condition is crucial. If you have patches on the skin like those pictured here, don’t attempt to treat yourself without a health professional’s advice.
Many doctors can quickly determine whether a red or scaly spot on the skin is guttate psoriasis, but additional testing may be necessary. Be sure to tell your doctor about any recent infections or medications as well as any family history of psoriasis. This may speed up your diagnosis.
Flex and Bend with Guttate Psoriasis
Guttate psoriasis on the ankle may make certain footwear uncomfortable. Ask your dermatologist for tips on clothing material, skin moisture, skin protectants, and adaptations that may make your condition more manageable.
If guttate spots appear in particularly unpleasant areas—such as the palms, the scalp, or the bottom of the feet—ask about a treatment combination. Topical treatments, as well as light therapy, may help clear the condition more quickly.
See the Light Side of Guttate Psoriasis
Guttate psoriasis may range in severity from mild (and easily treatable at home) to very severe. Serious cases of guttate psoriasis, like the one in this image, may require strong systemic medications to suppress the immune system.
Some people with guttate psoriasis may also benefit from phototherapy or exposure to sunlight. Although sunburn can make psoriasis worse, some exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light may help skin heal.
Guttate and Getting Better
People with guttate psoriasis may have stubborn patches, just like those with other types of the condition. Some people find that alternative treatments, such as diet and lifestyle changes, can improve their symptoms.
Others have turned to natural therapies, like the mud and seawater of the Dead Sea. Anecdotally, some people report that these waters and products made with their salt or mud have helped speed the healing of their psoriasis when applied topically. Consult your physician before using alternative treatments for your psoriasis.
Saying Goodbye to Guttate for Good
Unlike most other forms of psoriasis, guttate psoriasis can often be treated and healed permanently. Although treatment for this condition may work for some, psoriasis is still considered a disease without a cure.
Awareness, advocacy, and targeted research are essential for the future of millions of individuals affected by psoriasis. Stand up for acceptance and help those with psoriasis feel comfortable in their own skin by passing along educational stories like these and others from Healthline and the National Psoriasis Foundation.