Can Plaque Psoriasis Occur On The Face?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: July 2016.

Plaque psoriasis is an inflammatory autoimmune system condition which causes patches of a person’s skin to become inflamed and thickened, often covered with silvery scales. Plaque psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body, including the face1. Plaque psoriasis that affects the face is called facial psoriasis.

When psoriasis occurs on the face, it is usually limited to areas:2

  • Around the hairline
  • Forehead
  • Skin between the nose and top lip
  • Around or behind the ears

How common is facial psoriasis?

Nearly half of people with plaque psoriasis will have symptoms that affect the face at some point.2 This may not occur all the time, and the symptoms are often mild. Most people who have facial psoriasis symptoms also have scalp psoriasis, or they have moderate or severe psoriasis on other parts of their bodies.

Can facial psoriasis be treated?

The skin on a person’s face is often much more sensitive than the skin on the other parts of the body. For this reason, treating facial psoriasis can be trickier than treating some other affected areas2. Also, the symptoms of facial psoriasis can be especially hard for people to cope with, because they are so visible and can’t be easily covered up3. However, many people find that they are able to effectively control their symptoms with treatments that are good for sensitive facial skin.

What are the treatment options for facial psoriasis?

The treatment options for facial psoriasis depend on the severity of the symptoms and where exactly the symptoms are located on the face. Treatments that can work well on other parts of the body may be too harsh for the sensitive skin on the face and can cause more irritation1.

Over-the-counter creams containing salicylic acid can help to reduce psoriasis scales on the face for some people. Lower strength topical steroid creams can also be effective for treating facial psoriasis. Topical creams are medicines applied directly to affected skin. But it is important to follow the instructions for use very carefully because using these types of creams not as prescribed too often can cause or worsen the irritation and other more serious side effects, such as thinning of the skin2.

Other prescription topical medicines that can be used to treat facial psoriasis are Dovonex (calcipotriene) and Tazorec (tazarotene). For people whose facial psoriasis is not triggered by exposure to sunlight, ultraviolet light therapy can often be beneficial2.

Facial psoriasis symptoms around the eyes must be treated extremely carefully to avoid hurting the eyes and affecting vision. Healthcare providers will carefully supervise treatment around the eye areas3.

People with severe facial psoriasis may not get the relief they need from topical medicines. Those patients may be advised to try some type of systemic treatment for their symptoms. Unlike topical medicines, systemic medicines affect the entire body and are taken by mouth (in a tablet or liquid) or injection. Systemic treatment options for facial psoriasis include:

Tips for living with facial psoriasis

Facial psoriasis can be triggered by exposure to sunlight or smoking; avoiding them can help to control symptoms for some people. People with facial psoriasis are often advised to use gentle cleansers (not regular soap) for face washing, as well as using facial moisturizers and sunscreens designed for sensitive skin2. Stress can be a trigger for all types of psoriasis, including facial psoriasis, so learning techniques for avoiding and reducing stress may be helpful to reducing involvement of skin in areas of the face.

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