What is Pustular Psoriasis?

Only three percent of psoriasis patients develop pustular psoriasis. The condition is recognizable by red skin blotches and small bumps filled with pus. These are known as pustules, hence the name “pustular psoriasis.” 

What is Pustular Psoriasis? | TreatPsoriasis.com
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Overview of Pustular Psoriasis

There are three types of pustular psoriasis:

  • Generalized Pustular Psoriasis (GPP)
  • Localized Pustular Psoriasis, or Palmoplantar Pustular Psoriasis (PPPP)
  • Acropustulosis 

All types have the inflamed, red, tender, and blotchy skin covered in blisters in common. The only difference is the location of the flare-ups. They can take place in different parts of the skin and cover a smaller or a larger portion of the body.

The pus found inside the blisters is not contagious. Therefore, you cannot get pustular psoriasis from someone else, nor can you infect someone with it. 

The condition is rare in children, as it usually affects adults. However, there is a genetic predisposition to pustular psoriasis, and the disease runs in families. 

Symptoms of Pustular Psoriasis

During a pustular psoriasis flare-up, the affected part of the skin displays the following symptoms:

  • Inflammation
  • Discolored or reddish skin
  • Pus-filled bumps (pustules)

Inflamed patches of skin can be scaly and flaky. Very often, they are also itchy and painful. 

Types of Pustular Psoriasis

We can differentiate three types of pustular psoriasis according to the location and the extent of blister outbreaks.

  1. Generalized Pustular Psoriasis (GPP)

GPP is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition. It affects large parts of the body. The inflamed blotches are wide, itchy, painful, and covered in blisters. Very often, GPP causes fatigue, muscle weakness, and fever. In all cases, it requires immediate medical attention.

  1. Localized Pustular Psoriasis

Localized Pustular Psoriasis is also known as Palmoplantar Pustular Psoriasis or PPPP. That’s because it usually affects palms (lat. palmaris) of the hands and soles (lat. plantaris) of the feet.

  1. Acropustulosis

Acropustulosis covers small portions of the skin, usually on the fingertips or toes. The lesions can be very painful. Rarely, Acropustulosis also affects the nails and can even cause bone damage.

Causes and Triggers of Pustular Psoriasis

Like all other psoriasis types, pustular psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. There is a genetic factor involved. That’s probably the main reason why the immune system of people with psoriasis attacks healthy skin cells. 

For example, researchers state that two specific gene mutations are known risk factors for pustular psoriasis. These are the CARD14 and IL3RN. 

However, some other factors can also trigger pustular psoriasis:

  • Stress
  • Too much exposure to UV light (sunlight)
  • Skin infections or trauma
  • Irritants in skin care products.
  • Steroid medications
  • Stress
  • Hormonal imbalance (pregnancy, adolescence, or menopause)

Pustular Psoriasis Diagnosis

A skin specialist (dermatologist) will have to examine the changes on your skin. Also, they will take a look at your medical history and your family history of psoriasis. 

A biopsy may be necessary sometimes. A sample of the inflamed skin helps to reveal the nature of your condition with 100% accuracy. 

Cases of generalized pustular psoriasis can require the use of various diagnostic tools, such as blood tests. In such cases, hospitalization is common.

Pustular Psoriasis: The Bottom Line

Pustular psoriasis is rare, but it can sometimes be life-threatening. Even when it is less severe, the condition causes discomfort and lowers the quality of life. If you have any of the symptoms, your physician can help you get them under control and avoid complications.