Psoriasis, or psoriasis vulgaris, is a chronic skin condition. It’s characterized by patches of skin that appear red, scaly, or inflamed. Psoriatic rashes can appear differently and on different parts of the body depending on the type of psoriasis.
Psoriasis typically occurs on areas of the body such as the hands, limbs, and torso. However, in some people, lesions can appear on the anus or genitals. This condition is known as genital psoriasis.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, genital psoriasis affects up to two-thirds of people with psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis and inverse psoriasis are the two types of psoriasis that are most commonly associated with genital or anal psoriasis.
In this article, we explore how to tell the difference between anal psoriasis and other genital conditions, and how to treat anal psoriasis.
Although anal psoriasis can resemble other conditions that affect the genital area, there are some important distinctions that can help you determine whether your symptoms are from psoriasis or something else.
Generally, genital and anal psoriasis tends to develop alongside a previous diagnosis of psoriasis. If you’ve already received a diagnosis of psoriasis and notice the skin around your anus has become red, itchy, or irritated, it’s possible that your psoriasis has spread to your anal region.
Genital psoriasis that affects the anus may also be accompanied by psoriasis elsewhere on the genitals, such as the:
It can also spread beyond the genitals to other nearby areas, such as the surrounding skin or creases in the:
Many of the symptoms of anal psoriasis vary in intensity and are nonspecific. For example, symptoms such as pain, burning, and itching are associated with both genital psoriasis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
If you’ve recently developed any new or concerning symptoms in the genital area, it’s always a good idea to visit a healthcare professional to rule out any other underlying conditions.
Anal psoriasis causes a wide range of symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar to other conditions. However, a hallmark symptom of genital or anal psoriasis is the presence of red, shiny, non-scaly skin in the affected area.
Genital psoriasis can also cause the following symptoms in the anal region:
- dry, cracked skin
In many cases, the symptoms of anal psoriasis get worse when the affected skin comes in contact with sweat, clothing, or other irritants.
Stress, injury, and even certain foods and medications can trigger or worsen anal psoriasis. If you have anal psoriasis, understanding and managing these triggers can reduce flare-ups.
Topical treatments for psoriasis include lotions, creams, and ointments to help reduce inflammation and symptoms such as itching, burning, and pain.
You can often buy topical steroids, retinoids, and other anti-inflammatory treatments over the counter. Always apply these treatments with care, especially on areas of sensitive skin.
Oral treatments for psoriasis can be helpful for more severe cases that don’t respond well to over-the-counter treatments.
Oral medication options for anal psoriasis can include:
- immune-modulating medications
In some cases, these medications can be administered via injection.
At-home management for psoriasis generally includes:
- avoiding harsh chemicals on the skin
- reducing friction by wearing loose clothing
- keeping the affected skin clean and irritant-free
At-home treatment generally works best alongside the treatment options mentioned above.
Other treatment options for psoriasis, such as UV light therapy or laser therapy, should not be used in the genital or anal region.
Anal psoriasis is a form of genital psoriasis. It’s a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that affects the skin around the anus.
Although roughly two-thirds of people with psoriasis will experience a flare-up of genital psoriasis, this condition can occur independently outside of a previous psoriasis diagnosis.
Symptoms of anal psoriasis may include shiny red skin, itching, burning, and pain in the anal region.
Treatments can include topical lotions, creams, and ointments as well as oral medications and at-home remedies.
If you’ve noticed any new symptoms in your anal or genital region, such as a rash, pain, itching, or burning, schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional right away for diagnosis and treatment.