Living with psoriasis means facing unique challenges that go far beyond a few patches of itchy, dry skin. An estimated 7.5 million Americans now live with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Healthcare professionals are becoming more aware of the need for a good treatment plan.

Speak openly with your doctor about your specific challenges. Use this guide to discuss your psoriasis treatment with them. Sharing your needs can help you and your doctor fine-tune your psoriasis management and find what works best for you.

There are several types of psoriasis. No type of psoriasis is contagious. Most people will only have one type of psoriasis at a time, but you may get another type after one has cleared. Knowing which type you have—and which types you may develop—can help you expect what’s next and how best to treat it. Ask your doctor about the different types of psoriasis and how they may affect you.

Plaque psoriasis

This is the most common type of psoriasis. It causes red, raised patches on your skin. These patches are covered by a whitish scaly buildup of dead skin cells. Plaque psoriasis is usually located on the knees, lower back, scalp, and elbows.

Take a look: 13 photos of plaque psoriasis »

Guttate psoriasis

This is the second most common type of psoriasis. It causes tiny but distinct red spots on your skin. These spots aren’t as thick as plaque psoriasis lesions. This type often starts in childhood or young adulthood. It can start because of an infection or skin injury. About 10 percent of people with plaque psoriasis will develop guttate psoriasis.

Check out: Guttate psoriasis in pictures »

Inverse psoriasis

This type of psoriasis causes very red, smooth, shiny lesions on the skin in your body folds. These can include your armpits, under your breasts, or around your genitals. It often occurs with other types of psoriasis on other parts of your body.

Pustular psoriasis

This type of psoriasis causes white, pus-filled blisters surrounded by red skin. This form of psoriasis can come on quickly. It can lead to severe problems that may require hospitalization. These problems include fever, chills, diarrhea, and kidney and liver issues.

Read more: What does pustular psoriasis look like? »

Erythrodermic psoriasis

This type of psoriasis is very rare, but it’s especially painful and serious. It’s a highly inflammatory form of the condition. That means it affects most of the body at once. It causes red lesions on your skin that are widespread and not clearly defined. It also causes peeling. Flare-ups of this psoriasis need to be treated right away because the pain and itchiness are intense. It can also be life-threatening.

You’ve Got This! Share your psoriasis story and give hope to others »

Symptoms vary from person to person. The more you can tell your doctor about your symptoms, the better. Make sure your doctor understands what your triggers are and what you’re feeling. These are important parts of managing your disease.

But psoriasis can be more than just skin deep. It can also cause emotional symptoms. Psoriasis can also affect your self-esteem and relationships. This can lead to anxiety and stress. Many people with psoriasis also suffer from depression. Talk with your doctor about how your condition is making you feel. Let them know if it’s causing you distress. This will help your doctor decide how well your treatment is working.

Discuss your treatment options with your doctor often. This can help you stay on top of your disease. Talk to your doctor about how well your treatment is controlling your symptoms and flare-ups. Be sure to mention any side effects you have. These treatments include:

Your doctor may suggest a combination of treatments. Combination treatment may treat flare-ups quickly and effectively. It can also keep your symptoms under control with a lower dosage of drugs. This can decrease your side effects. If side effects are an issue for you, you should talk with your doctor about combination treatments.

Remember to let your doctor know about any other medications you’re taking or any other conditions you have. About 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Having psoriasis also increases your risk of:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • depression
  • cancer
  • diabetes

Finally, ask your doctor if you should be referred to a specialist. Working with a dermatologist (skin doctor) or rheumatologist (rheumatic disease doctor) may help you.

There are many types of psoriasis. Each is challenging and causes unique symptoms. Thankfully, there are a variety of treatment options to help you manage your condition.

Work closely with your doctor to adjust your psoriasis treatment plan until it’s right for you. Tell them about all the symptoms your psoriasis is causing. This includes both physical and emotional symptoms. Also tell your doctor how well your current psoriasis medications are working. Let them know if your treatment is causing any side effects. The more you share with your doctor, the better they can help you control your condition.