Psoriasis is a type of immune-mediated condition — meaning it results from the activity of your immune system — that’s known for scaly skin plaques.

Psoriasis most often develops between ages 15 and 25. However, some of the early stages of this condition may be mistaken for other inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema.

Learn more about the early symptoms of psoriasis and how these might look and feel in different psoriasis subtypes.

The symptoms of psoriasis first show up on your skin.

On skin with less pigment, red to silver skin patches are trademark signs of this condition. Psoriasis on darker skin typically appears as purple or dark brown patches with gray scales.

Below are other possible signs of psoriasis based on subtype:

Psoriasis typeFeaturesEarly symptoms
PlaquePlaque psoriasis is noted for raised patches of skin that may be red, purple, or silver in color. This is the most common type of psoriasis, making up about 80 to 90 percent of all cases.In the beginning stages, you might notice a raised area of skin that’s inflamed (swollen) and itchy.
GuttateThis type of psoriasis causes small red or purple spots on your skin. It tends to appear suddenly, and it may come and go without treatment.You might notice that these round spots first develop around your torso, arms, or legs. They may develop later in other areas of the body.
InverseUnlike the raised scales of plaque psoriasis, inverse psoriasis causes smooth red to purple rashes.Rashes tend to develop under skin folds, such as in your underarm, genital, or breast areas. You may notice pain and discomfort that gets worse after sweating in the affected areas of skin.
PustularPustular psoriasis causes painful bumps filled with pus to develop in unusual areas of the body, such as your hands and feet. They can also develop thick scales on top. As the pustules heal, brown spots or scales may be left in their place.This type of psoriasis may be mistaken for pustular acne lesions in its early stages because they both cause inflamed and painful bumps filled with pus.
ErythrodermicErythrodermic psoriasis is a rare and life threatening type of psoriasis. This condition causes significant shedding, where you experience a loss of skin layers in large pieces.It may resemble a significant widespread burn that affects about 90 percent of the body’s surface. Other early symptoms include intense pain and itching along with dehydration, muscle weakness, and increased heart rate. Immediate medical attention is required.
Nail Nail psoriasis often develops after another subtype and is seen in roughly half of people with psoriasis.Early signs include discolored, dented, and crumbling nails. The affected nails may eventually lift off their nail beds.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA)If you have psoriasis, there’s a chance that this inflammatory condition may eventually affect your joints, too. If this happens, it’s called psoriatic arthritis. Early signs of PsA include heel pain, along with swollen and painful fingers and toes. Symptoms may be worse in the morning.

Skin rashes, plaques, and scales caused by psoriasis tend to be extremely itchy, similar to eczema, or atopic dermatitis. They can also sting, burn, or feel painful.

Unlike eczema, psoriasis may sometimes progress to the joints.

Psoriasis may develop on any part of the body, but it’s most common on the knees, elbows, and scalp.

You might also have more than one subtype of psoriasis at a time, with varying symptoms in different areas of your body.

While the exact symptoms of psoriasis may vary based on subtype, this condition often leads to areas of inflamed skin that may be red or purple in color and scaly in texture. These rashes may also feel itchy and painful.

If you have any new skin symptoms that don’t improve with time, see a medical professional. They will be able to accurately diagnose whether it’s psoriasis or another skin condition.