Guttate psoriasis is a relatively uncommon form of psoriasis. It is usually seen in patients younger than 30. The condition often develops very suddenly, usually after an infection, most notably strep throat. Guttate psoriasis is not contagious, which means it cannot spread to other people.
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. See: Inflammatory response
In addition to strep throat, the following may trigger an attack of guttate psoriasis:
Bacteria or viral infections, including upper respiratory infections
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
Dandruff shampoos (over-the-counter or prescription)
Lotions that contain coal tar
Prescription medicines containing vitamin D or vitamin A (retinoids)
Persons with very severe guttate psoriasis may receive medicines to suppress the body's immune response. These medicines include corticosteroids, cyclosporine, and methotrexate.
Sunlight may help your symptoms go away. Be careful not to get sunburn. Some people may choose to have phototherapy. Phototherapy is a medical procedure in which your skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet light. Phototherapy may be given alone or after you take a drug 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
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of guttate psoriasis.
Psoriasis and Other Papulosquamous Diseases. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009: chap 8.
Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.