Posted on: 1 April 2016
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that typically presents as red, scaly lesions, but there are many atypical forms of psoriasis that present differently. Guttate psoriasis is a distressing variant of psoriasis that makes up less than 2% of cases. Here are three things you need to know about guttate psoriasis.
What are the signs of guttate psoriasis?
Guttate psoriasis usually has an acute onset, meaning that the symptoms appear suddenly. You'll notice the appearance of numerous salmon-colored papules on the skin of your trunk or limbs. Their diameter can be anywhere between one and 10 millimeters. At first, the lesions have a smooth appearance, but as the lesions become more established, they take on a scaly appearance.
The lesions may spread from your trunk and limbs to other parts of your body, like your face or scalp. Sometimes, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet can be affected, though fortunately, this is rare. If you think you have guttate psoriasis, see your dermatologist for confirmation.
What causes guttate psoriasis?
This type of psoriasis can be caused by group A streptococcal infections. These infections are caused by Strepcococcus pyogenes, a species of bacteria. S. pyogenes is responsible for a wide variety of infections, like impetigo, cellulitis, strep throat, sinusitis or pneumonia. More serious infections like meningitis or osteomyelitis can also be caused by these bacteria. After suffering from one of these infections, you may notice the first symptoms of guttate psoriasis.
Stressful events can also trigger guttate psoriasis. This tends to happen more often in teenagers than in adults, possibly due to emotional maturity levels. If you're going through a stressful situation, seek out coping mechanisms—like exercise, meditation, crafting or other activities that you find relaxing—to help you manage your stress to avoid developing guttate psoriasis.
Some types of medications can also trigger guttate psoriasis. For example, beta-blockers, which are used to treat heart problems like high blood pressure, may also cause this condition. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects of any drugs you're taking to find out if you're at risk of developing guttate psoriasis.
How is guttate psoriasis treated?
In some cases, guttate psoriasis goes away by itself a few weeks after appearing. To avoid unnecessary treatments, your dermatologist may recommend waiting to see if this happens. If your case of guttate psoriasis is stubborn and doesn't go away on its own, your dermatologist can offer a number of treatments to help clear your skin. Since guttate psoriasis is a chronic condition, treatment can help you manage the symptoms, but it won't cure the condition.
You may be given a prescription for a medicated cream to apply to your skin. This cream may continue corticosteroids, an anti-inflammatory medication. Corticosteroids can control your symptoms while you're using them, but once you stop your treatment, the symptoms may come back. They can also cause complications like skin atrophy or irritation, so they need to be used with caution.
Corticosteroid creams aren't the only treatment option for guttate psoriasis. Creams that contain tazarotene, a retinoid, can also be used. Tazarotene creams have been shown to be just as effective as corticosteroid creams, according to American Family Physician, and they produce longer-lasting results.
If your condition is too severe to be controlled with creams, phototherapy can be used. Phototherapy involves controlled exposure to ultraviolet A or ultraviolet B light. This treatment works by slowing down the growth of your skin cells. Decreasing the growth helps to get rid of the lesions. Phototherapy can be performed at your dermatologist's office, and if the treatment needs to continue long term, your dermatologist may recommend buying a light treatment unit for your home.
If you think you have guttate psoriasis, see a dermatologist as soon as possible. They may be able to suggest other treatments as well, such as botox or similar nerve treatments.Share