Guttate psoriasis is a skin condition in which small, red, and scaly teardrop-shaped spots appear on the arms, legs, and middle of the body. Guttate means “drop” in Latin.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Guttate psoriasis is a type of
Psoriasis seems to be passed down through families. Doctors think it probably occurs when the body’s immune system mistakes healthy cells for harmful substances.
In addition to strep throat, the following may trigger an attack of guttate psoriasis:
Bacteria or viral infections, including upper respiratory infections
Injury to the skin, including cuts,
burns,and insect bites
Some medicines, including those used to treat malaria and certain heart conditions
Too much alcohol
Psoriasis may be severe in persons who have a weakened immune system. This may include persons who have:
Autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis
Chemotherapy for cancer
- Spots on the skin that are pinkish-red and look like teardrops.
- Spots may be covered with silver, flaky skin called scales.
- Spots usually occur on the arms, legs, and middle of the body (the trunk), but may appear in other body areas.
Signs and tests
Your doctor will look at your skin. Diagnosis is usually based on what the spots look like.
Often, a person with this type of psoriasis has recently had a sore throat or upper respiratory infection.
Tests to confirm the diagnosis may include:
- Skin biopsy
Goal of treatment is to control your symptoms and prevent
If you have a current or recent infection, your doctor may give you antibiotics.
Mild cases of guttate psoriasis are usually treated at home. Your doctor may recommend any of the following:
Cortisone (anti-itch and anti-inflammatory) cream
Dandruffshampoos (over-the-counter or prescription)
- Lotions that contain coal tar
- Prescription medicines that have vitamin D to apply to the skin (topically) or that have vitamin A (retinoids) to take by mouth (orally).
Persons with very severe guttate psoriasis may receive medicines to suppress the body’s immune response. These medicines include cyclosporine and methotrexate.
Your doctor may suggest phototherapy. This is a medical procedure in which your skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet light. Phototherapy may be given alone or after you take a medicine that makes the skin sensitive to light.
Guttate psoriasis may clear completely following treatment. Sometimes, however, it may become a chronic (lifelong) condition, or worsen to the more common plaque-type psoriasis.
- Secondary skin infections
- Severe itching
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of guttate psoriasis.