Psoriasis vulgaris is the most common type of psoriasis, a chronic skin condition. It can significantly affect mental health.

Psoriasis vulgaris, also known as plaque psoriasis, is the most common type of psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes red or purple itchy plaques covered with silvery or gray scales.

“Vulgaris” is a Latin term for “common” or “typical.” So, psoriasis vulgaris is often just referred to as “psoriasis.”

Let’s explore the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for psoriasis vulgaris.

Psoriasis vulgaris, often called plaque-type psoriasis or simply psoriasis, is the most common form of psoriasis. It results in itchy plaques covered with scales.

On lighter skin, the plaques are typically red with silvery scales. On darker skin, the plaques are typically purple or darker than the surrounding skin with grayish scales.

The plaques often merge, forming larger areas on the trunk, limbs, and scalp.

Psoriasis vulgaris accounts for around 90% of psoriasis cases. It is more common in white people than other races.

Common locations for psoriasis to develop include:

  • the torso
  • skin surfaces on the outside of a joint, such as the:
    • front of knee
    • back of elbow
    • forearm
  • the scalp

Symptoms commonly associated with psoriasis vulgaris include:

  • Plaques: On lighter skin, plaques are typically red and covered with silvery scales. On darker skin, the plaques are typically purplish or darker than surrounding skin with gray scales.
  • Dry, cracked skin: The affected areas may appear dry, cracked, and sometimes bleed.
  • Itching and burning sensation: Often, plaques are itchy and may cause a burning sensation.
  • Thickened or pitted nails: Nail changes can occur, such as thickening, pitting, or discoloration.
  • Joint pain and swelling: In some cases, psoriasis vulgaris can lead to joint pain and swelling, a condition known as psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriasis can profoundly affect mental health. According to a 2022 review, there are strong connections between psoriasis and mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder.

The review mentions that 98% of people felt their skin condition had affected their mental health. However, only 18% sought help.

Psoriasis vulgaris comorbid conditions

Psoriasis is commonly associated with joint inflammation (psoriatic arthritis) and other conditions.

For instance, a 2019 review of research suggests a connection between psoriasis and an increased risk of:

  • heart disease, including heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular-related death
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • obesity-related issues

The following factors may cause psoriasis:

  • Genetics: Family history influences psoriasis risk. Specific genes related to immune system function and skin cell growth contribute to this condition. According to a 2021 review, psoriasis has a heritability rate ranging from 60–90%.
  • Immune system dysfunction: Psoriasis involves an overactive immune response. Scientists believe T cells, a type of white blood cell, trigger inflammation and accelerate the production of skin cells, leading to psoriasis plaques.
  • Environmental triggers: Stress, skin injuries, infections (particularly streptococcal infections), certain medications, smoking, and high alcohol use can trigger or worsen psoriasis in susceptible individuals.
  • Skin cell growth: In psoriasis, the skin cell renewal process is disrupted. Skin cells multiply at a much faster rate than normal. This leads to the buildup of cells on the skin’s surface, forming plaques.

Dermatologists and other qualified healthcare professionals typically diagnose psoriasis vulgaris with the following:

  • Physical exam: Doctors examine the skin for symptoms like discolored, scaly plaques with defined borders.
  • Medical history: Information about family history and previous skin conditions helps doctors diagnose and understand the extent of the condition.
  • Skin biopsy: In some cases, a doctor may take a small sample of skin and examine it under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions, such as eczema.

Treatment for psoriasis vulgaris aims to manage symptoms and reduce flare-ups.

Options include:

  • Topical treatments: Applied directly to the skin, these treatments include:
  • Phototherapy: This treatment involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light, which can help reduce inflammation and slow skin cell growth.
  • Systemic medications: Oral or injected medications, like methotrexate, cyclosporine, acitretin, or newer biologics, can target specific parts of the immune system.
  • Natural remedies: Some people explore natural options, like aloe vera, oatmeal baths, turmeric, and mind-body therapies, as complementary approaches to manage symptoms.

Ongoing research is exploring new medications for psoriasis treatment.

For example, scientists believe that IL-23, a key immune system protein, drives inflammation in psoriasis. Blocking IL-23 has been effective in managing the condition.

In phase 2 clinical trials for psoriasis, two drugs, IBI112 and PN-235, are under investigation. IBI112 targets a specific part of IL-23 known as p19. It’s shown encouraging results in improving skin thickness and inflammation in a mouse model.

In contrast, PN-235 is an oral treatment. It has completed safety trials in human participants, showing early potential for treating psoriasis. PN-235 also targets the IL-23 receptor.

Psoriasis vulgaris, also known as plaque-type psoriasis or simply psoriasis, is the most common form of the condition. Symptoms include red or purple plaques covered by silver or gray scales, intense itching, burning sensations, and dry, cracked skin.

Beyond skin symptoms, psoriasis is linked to joint inflammation (psoriatic arthritis) and other conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The condition can also affect mental health.

Ongoing research is underway to test new medications for treatment. If you’re experiencing symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.