Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory disease that can affect the skin, joints and other parts of the body. There are several different types of psoriasis, including pustular psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis is characterized by the presence of pustules on the skin. Here are four things you need to know about pustular psoriasis.
What are the signs of pustular psoriasis?
If you have pustular psoriasis, you'll develop pustules—small blisters that are filled with pus—on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. In some cases, sufferers will experience redness of the affected skin, then the development of pustules, then the scaling of pustules; this cycle can then repeat.
In some cases, the pustules appear on other areas of your skin, not just your soles and palms. This is known as either generalized pustular psoriasis or diffused pustular psoriasis. This widespread form can be a very serious medical problem. You may develop a fever or feel very ill. If this happens, you may need to go to the hospital.
These signs may develop after you stop taking topical or systemic steroids. They can also develop after you get a sunburn, following an infection, or following a period of stress. Pustular psoriasis symptoms can also begin during pregnancy.
What complications can pustular psoriasis cause?
The pustules associated with pustular psoriasis look infectious, so your friends and family may not want to get too close to you. This can lead to strained interpersonal relationships. Strangers may comment on your pustules, as well. This can make sufferers feel very self conscious and upset about their condition. As many as 50% of people with psoriasis suffer from depression due to their condition, and suicide is also more common among psoriasis sufferers than among the general population.
How common is pustular psoriasis?
Pustular psoriasis is rare. About 7.5 million Americans suffer from psoriasis, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, and as many as 90% of them have plaque psoriasis, a type of psoriasis that causes thick, red plaques to appear on the skin. The remaining suffers have one of several less common types of psoriasis, including pustular psoriasis.
This type of psoriasis tends to affect adults. The average age of sufferers is between 48 and 50 years old, and the average age at onset is 41 years old. All races can develop pustular psoriasis, and it affects men and women at equal rates in the United States.
Can pustular psoriasis be treated?
Pustular psoriasis can be treated with infliximab. Infliximab is a biologic drug that is used to treat a variety of autoimmune conditions. The drug acts as an artificial antibody and works by interfering with your body's autoimmune reaction. Infliximab needs to be given intravenously since it can't survive a trip through your digestive system.
This treatment can give you fast relief from your symptoms: one study found that patients' lesions cleared up within 48 hours of receiving the medication. However, infliximab isn't a cure, so you'll need to receive maintenance treatments. This can be done every eight weeks to keep your pustules from coming back.
Since this treatment suppresses your immune system, you'll be at risk of illnesses, including serious infections. Your dermatologist will need to follow up with you regularly to make sure that you're staying healthy and aren't suffering from complications. However, it's important to note that the risk of infection is small and shouldn't scare you away from getting treatment for your psoriasis.
If you think you have pustular psoriasis, contact a local resources like Advanced Dermatology Care. They can determine if your symptoms are related to pustular psoriasis or another skin-related problem.