10 Places Psoriasis Shows Up On Your Body (Some Unexpected!)

by Claire Gillespie Health Writer

The autoimmune disease psoriasis can develop on skin anywhere on the body, from the limbs to the eyelids. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, the main types of psoriasis are plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, and pustular psoriasis. While each type of psoriasis is more likely to show up in certain areas of the body than others, there are no hard and fast rules, and many people experience flares on more than one body part.


Psoriasis of the Scalp

The scalp is one of the most common body parts to be affected by psoriasis, says the National Psoriasis Foundation. Scalp psoriasis may range from small patches of fine scales to a thick, crusty covering over the whole scalp. In severe cases, scalp psoriasis may extend onto the forehead, down the back of the neck, and over the ears. Common scalp psoriasis treatments are coal tar and salicylic acid-medicated shampoo. More serious cases may be treated topically with Dritho-Scalp (anthralin) or Dovonex (calcipotriene).


Psoriasis of the Face

Facial psoriasis typically appears on the eyebrows, on the skin between the nose and upper lip, or across the upper forehead or hairline. The skin on your face is thinner, so it’s important to use the right treatment. Your doctor may prescribe a low-potency corticosteroid cream, ointment, or spray to reduce redness and swelling. However, using this for longer than a few weeks at a time may result in thin or shiny skin, increased sensitivity, or susceptibility to bruising.


Psoriasis of the Eyelids

If you have psoriasis on your eyelids, the scales may cover the eyelashes, the edges of the lids may get red and crusty, and the rims may turn up or down if they’re inflamed for a long time. The skin on and around the eyelids is extremely delicate. Great care must be taken when treating psoriasis on this body part. Treatment options include special corticosteroids and the common eczema drugs Elidel (pimecrolimus), or Protopic (tacrolimus).

Elbow psoriasis.

Psoriasis of the Arms

Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. The U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that it affects about 80 percent of people with psoriasis. It often appears on the arms and/or elbows. It presents as thick, slightly raised, clearly defined areas of skin with a white or silver layer of scales. In most cases, patches are one to 10 centimeters wide, but they can be larger. It’s important to keep affected areas well moisturized to reduce dryness and irritation.

Putting lotion on legs.

Psoriasis of the Legs

Plaque psoriasis is also common on the legs and/or knees. Your doctor may prescribe a vitamin D cream, like Dovonex or Rocaltrol (calcitriol), to reduce the rate of skin cell growth, or a topical retinoid, as well as regular application of an over-the-counter cortisone cream or ointment-based moisturizer. If topical treatments are unsuccessful, light therapy (exposing the skin to both UVA and UVB rays in a controlled environment) may be recommended.

Holding stomach.

Psoriasis of the Trunk

Guttate psoriasis, which often flares up suddenly, appears as small, salmon-pink, droplet-shaped bumps on the skin. It is found most often on the trunk, as well as the arms and legs. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 10 percent of people with psoriasis have guttate psoriasis. Common triggers include stress, tonsillitis, streptococcal infections, and injury to the skin. Doctors typically prescribe topical treatments or light therapy to treat guttate psoriasis.

Putting ointment on hand psoriasis.

Psoriasis on the Hands and Feet

Psoriasis can be particularly uncomfortable and irritating on the palms and soles of the feet. Plaque psoriasis may result in dry, scaly patches, while a rare type of pustular psoriasis called palmoplantar pustulosis causes pus-filled blisters to form on these areas. Look after your hands and feet to help ease discomfort and pain. Wear comfortable shoes and gloves made from natural fibers, and soak affected areas in warm water twice a day before patting dry and applying a moisturizer.

Nail psoriasis.

Psoriasis of the Nails

If you have plaque psoriasis on your body, you may also develop nail psoriasis. This is characterized by small holes in the nails, thickening and/or discoloration of the nails, and loosening of the nails. According to the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA), fingernails are more likely to be affected than toenails. Nail psoriasis can be difficult to treat, with topical steroids or vitamin D analogue creams being the first-line treatment.


Psoriasis of the Ears

Plaque psoriasis may appear in the external ear canal, but is very rare inside the ear or behind the eardrum. A buildup of scale in the ear may cause temporary hearing loss and debris should be carefully removed by a doctor, says the National Psoriasis Foundation. The safest treatment for psoriasis in this sensitive part of the body is prescription steroid solutions, which may be applied directly to the external ear canal or dripped into the ear canal.

Man covering his crotch.

Genital Psoriasis

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, the most common type of genital psoriasis is inverse psoriasis, which presents as smooth, dry, red lesions. Various parts of the genital area may be affected, including the pubis, the folds of skin between the thigh and groin, the upper thighs, the buttocks crease, the vulva, the penis, and the anus. Because the genital area is particularly sensitive, only low-strength topical corticosteroids as well as tacrolimus are recommended for treatment.

Claire Gillespie
Meet Our Writer
Claire Gillespie

Claire Gillespie writes about mental health, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and IBS for HealthCentral. She is a passionate about mental health awareness, and also writes about health and wellness for other sites, including Vice, SELF, Zocdoc, Reader’s Digest, and Healthline. You can follow her on Twitter @southpawclaire.