What is guttate psoriasis?
Guttate psoriasis is a skin condition in which small,
droplet-shaped, red patches appear on the:
“Guttate” stems from the Latin word for “drop.” It’s the second
most common form of psoriasis, which is an inflammatory skin condition that
causes redness and irritation. It typically affects children and adults under
30 years old. Respiratory illnesses or viral infections are common triggers.
According to the National
Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), about 10 percent of people who have psoriasis
will develop this type of psoriasis.
Unlike plaque psoriasis, which has raised lesions, the spots
caused by guttate psoriasis aren’t very thick. Spots are typically small, and they
may have a covering of thin, flaky skin called “scales.”
Guttate psoriasis isn’t contagious. It can’t spread to others
through contact. Spots often clear up with minor treatment. Guttate psoriasis
may be a lifelong condition for some, or it may appear later as plaque
What are the symptoms of guttate psoriasis?
Guttate psoriasis attacks are often sudden. The breakouts
typically involve small, red marks that intensify and expand. They can cover
large portions of the body or may remain in smaller patches.
According to the Mayo
Clinic, the lesions of guttate psoriasis typically appear:
- small in size
- red or dark pink
- separate from each other
- on the trunk or limbs
- thinner than plaque psoriasis lesions
What causes guttate psoriasis?
The real cause of psoriasis is unknown, but research indicates
that it’s an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s natural defense
system attacks healthy cells. In psoriasis, the immune system targets the skin,
which results in a rapid growth of skin cells. This causes the redness and
flaky skin typical of psoriasis.
According to the NPF, certain
factors may trigger an outbreak of guttate psoriasis, such as:
- an injury to the skin
- strep throat
- certain medications, including antimalarial
drugs and beta-blockers (drugs used to treat heart disorders)
How is guttate psoriasis diagnosed?
Your doctor can identify signs of guttate psoriasis during a
physical examination. Your regular doctor will typically refer you to a
dermatologist for a proper diagnosis.
Your dermatologist will examine your skin and make note of the
affected areas. This mapping will help them track treatments after diagnosis. They’ll
also take a complete medical history to rule out other conditions, such as an
Your dermatologist may also order a skin biopsy to eliminate other
possible contributors to the skin lesions and to help determine the type of
What are the treatment options for guttate psoriasis?
A topical cream or ointment is the first line of treatment for
this type of psoriasis. These often contain mild steroids. You should apply
these once or twice per day. The steroids suppress the body’s immune response,
resulting in fewer excess skin cells.
Other psoriasis medications include:
including steroid hormones similar to those produced by the adrenal glands
which is typically used to prevent the body from rejecting a transplanted organ
but is also used in other immune-related conditions
which suppresses the immune system and is typically used in severe cases or
when other treatments don’t work
Besides medication, there are other therapies and strategies that
can help control symptoms, such as:
- dandruff shampoos for scalp psoriasis
- lotions that contain coal tar, which can reduce
inflammation and itching
- cortisone cream to control itching
- exposure to UV rays, either through sunlight or
Your dermatologist will help you choose the form of therapy that
best suits your condition and lifestyle.
What is the long-term outlook?
There’s no cure for psoriasis. The goal is to manage symptoms. Follow
your doctor’s treatment plan, and avoid triggers when possible. The following
can all trigger an outbreak:
- skin injuries
If you’re using topical treatments, including them in your
post-shower routine is the easiest way to remember to use them. Water strips
your body of its natural moisture. Applying ointments immediately after the
shower can help lock in precious moisture.
more about your condition can help you manage and treat your symptoms. Consider
joining a psoriasis support group and speaking to others with your condition.
The knowledge and tips you gain in dealing with your condition can be