Guttate Psoriasis: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

Guttate psoriasis is a kind of psoriasis that manifests on the skin as tiny, teardrop-shaped, red, scaly areas. It doesn’t generally leave a scar. Guttate psoriasis accounts for around 2 percent of all instances of psoriasis and is more common in children than in adults. It may also manifest in young people, particularly those under the age of 30.

Keep reading to learn more about guttate psoriasis, including its causes, treatment options, and how to prevent it.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is characterized by the development of scaly, flaky areas of skin. Patches may seem red or pink, while scales might appear white or silvery. The scales and patches might also appear gray or purple.

These patches generally form on your knees, elbows, scalp, and lower back but may appear anywhere else on your body. In most cases, the impacted area is tiny. Sometimes, the patches are painful or irritating.

The severity of psoriasis varies widely from individual to individual.

Although it may be nothing more than an irritation to some, it may have serious consequences for others.

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that often alternates between symptom-free or mildly symptomatic intervals and more severe intervals. Skin cells are produced more often in people with psoriasis.

Normally, skin cells are produced and replaced every three to four weeks; however, in psoriasis, this process only lasts three to seven days. The accumulation of dead skin cells is what causes the characteristic psoriasis patches.

Although the process is not completely understood, it’s assumed to be connected to an immune system issue. The immune system is your body’s protection against sickness and infection, but in patients with psoriasis, it targets healthy skin cells by mistake.

A man applying cream to the guttate psoriasis on his elbow

Psoriasis may run in families; however, the precise role genetics plays in producing psoriasis is unknown. Psoriasis symptoms can begin or worsen as a result of a specific incident or trigger. Psoriasis may be triggered by a skin injury, a throat infection, or the use of certain medications.

This illness cannot be transmitted from one person to another since it is not contagious. People who experience psoriasis with joint pain may have psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriasis versus dermatitis: What’s the difference?

The term “dermatitis” is used to describe a variety of rashes and skin irritations that may be brought on by irritants, infections, allergies, hyperactive immune systems, heredity, and more. Dryness, redness, and itching are typical symptoms. Overall, the term describes a state of skin inflammation. Depending on the underlying issue, the rashes might vary from hardly noticeable to quite problematic.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. It happens because your immune system is giving out mixed signals, which causes your body to overcompensate by producing new skin cells.

Plaques of psoriasis, like those of dermatitis, can be irritating. As the condition progresses, around a third of those with psoriasis also get arthritis.

Plaques from psoriasis have thicker, more clearly defined scales than those from dermatitis. Rather than being white or yellow like dermatitis scales, psoriasis scales are more silver.

Different psoriasis types

The following are different types of psoriasis:

  • Plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most prevalent form of skin condition. The illness manifests as silvery white spots on red, inflamed skin. These sores often hurt and itch.
  • Pustular psoriasis. This unusual form of psoriasis is characterized by the appearance of well-defined, pus-filled blisters. It may cover vast areas of skin or appear as a localized problem on the palms and/or soles of the feet.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis. The skin becomes very red and flaky from erythrodermic psoriasis. Extreme sunburn, infections, certain drugs, and the discontinuation of psoriasis treatments may all set off this condition. This condition, if left untreated, may rapidly progress into a life-threatening disease.
  • Inverse psoriasis. Folds of skin like those seen in the groin, buttocks, and breasts are especially vulnerable to inverse psoriasis. Flaky, irritated areas of skin appear and become worse with friction and perspiration. Possible causes of this kind of psoriasis include fungal infections.
  • Guttate psoriasis. Small, red plaques appear on the skin with psoriasis, which often begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Infections of the respiratory tract, strep throat, tonsillitis, stress, skin damage, antimalarial drugs, and beta-blockers may all set off this condition.

Causes of guttate psoriasis

Do you know what psoriasis is caused by? Here are the two primary causes:

  • Genetics. At least two genes have been linked to psoriasis, and there may be further connections. It is more probable that an individual will get chronic psoriasis if they have close relatives, particularly parents, who also have the condition.
  • Bacterial infections. Group A Streptococcus, the bacteria responsible for most cases of strep throat and similar disorders, is often linked to guttate psoriasis.

The chance of developing guttate psoriasis is increased in people with HIV, autoimmune illnesses (such as rheumatoid arthritis), or immune systems that are reduced by chemotherapy.

Other possible causes of guttate psoriasis include:

  • A bacterial or viral upper respiratory illness
  • Tonsillitis
  • Stress
  • Skin damage caused by a burn, cut, or insect bite
  • Medicines like beta-blockers for heart issues and malaria medications
  • Abuse of alcoholic beverages
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What causes psoriasis under the arms?

Like other autoimmune disorders, inverse psoriasis is brought on by an immune system malfunction. However, perspiration and other forms of moisture might bring on flare-ups of this type of psoriasis.

Inverse psoriasis is more likely to develop in overweight people who already have psoriasis. That’s because excess skin and deeper folds of skin are direct results of carrying around additional weight.

Medication changes, infections, skin injuries, nicotine and alcohol usage, and friction in the skin’s deep creases are other potential triggers.

How to treat guttate psoriasis

An outbreak of guttate psoriasis typically lasts two to three weeks. Your doctor will likely treat your symptoms and attempt to avoid more infections.


Allergies, dryness, and swelling may all be treated with a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications. Some treatments may include:

  • Anti-itch and anti-inflammatory cortisone cream
  • Scalp dandruff shampoo
  • Psoriasis honey
  • Creams formulated with coal tar to relieve dry skin
  • Moisturizers
  • Vitamin A-containing prescription drugs
  • Psoriasis injections

Your doctor may prescribe oral medication for you if your condition is severe. Some examples include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Methotrexate
  • Biologics (guselkumab, ixekizumab)
  • Apremilast (OtezlaTM)


This is an alternative treatment method that makes use of light. During this procedure, your doctor will expose your skin to UV light. Also, you may be prescribed medicine to speed up your skin’s response to light. Getting outside into the sunlight may also do wonders for your mood.

Psoriasis symptoms may come and go, but the disorder itself cannot be cured. Avoiding a symptom’s known cause is the most effective strategy to prevent a flare-up. The factors that set off an outbreak of psoriasis in one individual may not do so in another. Understanding what triggers your symptoms and what helps to alleviate them is crucial.

Can guttate psoriasis be prevented?

In order to avoid a psoriasis outbreak, use these measures:

Eliminate stress

Living with psoriasis can make dealing with the demands of everyday life more difficult. When under pressure, the body reacts by increasing inflammation. Psoriasis flare-ups have been linked to this reaction. So try to lessen your stress levels to manage your symptoms.

Avoid cold, dry weather

Psoriasis may respond significantly to changes in climate. Some people’s symptoms are exacerbated by cold and dry weather, while hot temperatures improve them.

A healthy meal with vegetables to prevent guttate psoriasis

Maintain a nutritious diet

Psoriasis seems to worsen with weight gain or obesity. For this reason, keeping your weight in check with regular exercise and a nutritious diet is essential. Seek the advice of a dietitian if this is something you struggle with. A nutritionist may advise you on how much and what kinds of food to consume each day to achieve your weight goals.

Some people’s psoriasis symptoms are triggered by eating certain foods that cause inflammation in the body, such as processed junk food and dairy. Other foods like legumes, nuts, and fish seem to reduce inflammation and flare-ups.


Psoriasis may be triggered when the body’s innate immune response is disrupted by the use of certain drugs, which can lead to inflammation. Among these pharmaceuticals are:

  • Lithium, which is used to treat mental health disorders, such as depression
  • Propranolol hydrochloride, a blood pressure medication
  • The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication indomethacin, used to treat arthritis

Don’t forget to tell your doctor about any drugs you’re taking, whether they’re prescribed or over-the-counter. If your doctor thinks your medicine is causing your psoriasis flare-ups, they may modify your dose or prescribe a different drug.

Use a humidifier

In order to maintain healthy skin, hydration is key. If the air inside your home is dry, try using a humidifier.

Final thoughts

When it comes to symptoms, psoriasis may come in a wide variety of forms. Although psoriasis has no known cure, it may be treated to alleviate and control symptoms. If you are worried about the condition of your skin, see a physician.

Your psoriasis’s kind and severity will influence the course of therapy. Smaller psoriasis patches and less severe instances frequently respond well to topical treatments. Larger patches are indicative of a more severe condition that may need systemic therapy.

Psoriasis isn’t infectious; nonetheless, many individuals still mistakenly assume it is. Psoriasis is thought to have several causes, including heredity, the environment, and problems with the immune system.

February 2, 2023