What Areas Of The Body Are Most Commonly Affected By Plaque Psoriasis?
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: July 2016. | Last updated: May 2022
Plaque psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can affect the skin, joints, and nails. In people with plaque psoriasis, inflammation causes excess skin cells to develop into plaques. Plaques are thickened and inflamed areas of skin, usually red or pink in color, that can be covered in silvery scales.
The symptoms of plaque psoriasis can occur on the skin anywhere on the body. The most common places where plaque psoriasis symptoms develop are:
Taking a look at the scalp
The scalp is one of the most common places affected by plaque psoriasis. About half of people with psoriasis have symptoms on their scalps1. The back of the head is a particularly commonplace for symptoms, but they can occur anywhere on the scalp, around the hairline, around the ears, or on the back of the neck. Most people with scalp psoriasis have a mild form of the condition that often responds well to treatment.
Read more information on symptoms and treatments for scalp psoriasis.
What about elbows and knees?
The elbows and knees are also very common sites for plaque psoriasis symptoms. Half of people with the condition report having symptoms on their elbows, and around one-third of people have symptoms on their knees2. Plaques in these locations can tend to lead to painful cracks or “fissures” because the joints move so much during normal activities, which ruptures the plaques. There is a wide range of treatment options available for people with psoriasis symptoms on the elbows and knees.
Read more information on symptoms and treatments for psoriasis on elbows and knees.
How does psoriasis affect the lower back?
The torso is another area where plaques can often occur, particularly around the lower back. Sometimes plaques on the lower back may spread downward into the buttock area. Psoriasis symptoms in this area can be treated effectively in many people2.
Read more information on symptoms and treatments for psoriasis on the lower back.
The impact of facial psoriasis
Around half of people with psoriasis will eventually experience symptoms on the face3. Most people with facial psoriasis symptoms also have symptoms on their scalps, which can spread onto the face. Symptoms on the face can be especially difficult to deal with because they are so visible to others, and not easy to hide. Treatment can also be tricky because the facial skin is so sensitive that many treatments are too harsh and cause irritation. However, there is a range of treatment strategies that people can try out in order to find the best way to relieve their symptoms.
Read more information on symptoms and treatments for psoriasis on the face.
How does psoriasis affect the hands and feet?
Some people have plaques that form on the palms of their hands and/or on the soles of their feet. This is also called “palmoplantar psoriasis.” It can be very painful, and can keep people from working and carrying out their normal day to day activities4. People who develop symptoms on their hands and feet should see a healthcare provider to start treatment as soon as possible and control their symptoms.
Read more information on symptoms and treatments for psoriasis on hands and feet.
Fingernails and toenails are not to be ignored
Nail psoriasis is very common, affecting about half of people with plaque psoriasis5. There are many different symptoms that nail psoriasis can cause, such as pitting, thickening, discoloration, and crumbling. It can be difficult to treat nail psoriasis because it can take a long time to see a positive effect, but many people are able to improve their symptoms over time. Nail involvement is also an early warning sign that you may develop psoriatic arthritis.
Read more information on symptoms and treatments for psoriasis affecting your nails.
How does psoriasis affect the genitals?
Many people have psoriasis symptoms on the genitals and in the genital area. These symptoms can be especially uncomfortable and hard to live with, but there are treatments that can help6. Symptoms can occur on and around the penis, vulva, buttocks, and breasts.
Read more information on symptoms and treatments of psoriasis on your genitals.
Psoriasis and skin folds
Any of the body’s skin folds or creases can possibly develop psoriasis symptoms. Common locations include the armpits, under the breasts, in the area between the buttocks, and in the creases between the groin and upper thighs7. Treatment will often improve these symptoms, but must take care not to further irritate the sensitive skin in these areas.
Read more information on symptoms and treatments of psoriasis on skin folds.