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Alternative Names Return to topGuttate psoriasis
Definition Return to top
Guttate psoriasis is a skin condition in which small, red, teardrop-shaped spots appear on the arms, legs, and middle of the body. Guttate means "drop" in Latin.
See also: Psoriasis
Causes Return to top
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.
Psoriasis seems to be an inherited disorder. That means it is passed down through families. Doctors think it probably occurs when the body's immune system mistakes healthy cells for dangerous substances. See: Inflammatory response
In addition to strep throat, the following may trigger an attack of guttate psoriasis:
In general, psoriasis may be severe in persons who have a weakened immune system. This may include persons who have:
Symptoms Return to top
Symptoms include itching and spots on the skin, called skin lesions, which are pinkish-red and look like teardrops. The spots may be covered with silver, flaky skin called scales.
The spots usually occur on the arms, legs, and middle of the body (the trunk), but may appear in other body areas.
Exams and Tests Return to top
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 include:
Treatment Return to top
The goal of treatment is to control your symptoms and prevent secondary infections.
If you have an 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:
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.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Psoriasis is a life-long condition that can be controlled with treatment.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of guttate psoriasis.
References Return to top
Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2004.
Rakel P, ed. Conn’s Current Therapy 2005. 57th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2005.Update Date: 4/12/2007 Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Associate, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.