What Does It Look Like
Genital psoriasis doesnât look like other forms of the disease. Patches are often bright red, smooth, and shiny. You usually donât see scales because they rub off when you move.
Women may have some gray, scaly places on their vulva, just outside the vagina. But patches in skin folds are often glossy red. Men can get small red patches on the shaft or tip of their penis.
Genital psoriasis doesnât only happen to your private parts. You can have it anywhere between your bellybutton and the tops of your thighs, including your:
Pubic area: This is the place right above your genitals. You have hair here, so doctors treat psoriasis in this area like scalp psoriasis. You have to use care, though, because pubic skinâs more tender than skin on your head.
Upper thighs: You might have a lot of small round patches on your inner thighs. They get worse from sweat and friction from tight clothing, exercise, or sex.
Creases between your thigh and groin: Skin in these folds is very thin and may crack open and bleed.
Anus: You might have itching, bleeding, and pain when you go to the bathroom.
Buttock crease: Psoriasis here is usually red and sometimes scaly.
Anus And Surrounding Area
Psoriasis on or near the anus is red or purple, non-scaly, and likely to itch. Symptoms might be similar to those of yeast infections, hemorrhoidal itching, and pinworm infestations.
Genital psoriasis of the anus can also cause rectal bleeding, pain while passing stools, and dryness. Heavy scaling and red or purple discoloration might develop in the creases of the buttocks, although the skin is less sensitive and difficult to treat.
Why Genital Psoriasis Can Be Hard To Diagnose
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation , genital psoriasis can affect the following areas:
- Penis, scrotum, or vulva
- Crease between the buttocks, including the skin around the anus
- Inner and upper thigh
- Crease between the thigh and genital area
While plaque psoriasis can appear on the genitals, more often the type of psoriasis that develops on this part of the body is called inverse psoriasis a type that develops in the skins natural folds, or in places where skin rubs against skin, according to the NPF.
Inverse psoriasis doesnt have the telltale dry scales of plaque psoriasis, because it occurs in areas where there is excess moisture. Unlike plaque psoriasis, Inverse psoriasis often looks like a rash with sharp borders, says Ellis.
But when it appears in the groin area, it is often mistaken for a fungus, like jock itch. When it appears on the genitals, it may be mistaken for a sexually transmitted disease, says Ellis.
Inverse psoriasis may be underreported, in part because it can be tough to diagnose doctors often find it necessary to do a skin biopsy, according to Ellis.
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What Does Genital Psoriasis Look Like
In general, psoriasis looks like patches of red skin with thick, shiny scales. When it develops in the genital area, the patches may be a brighter red, but you usually wont see the classic scales of psoriasis.
When it occurs within the folds of your skin, also known as inverse psoriasis, the color may be more of a reddish-white or reddish-grey. Your skin can become cracked and sore and may bleed. When it occurs in the skin folds, psoriasis can also look a lot like a yeast infection. Learn more about what inverse psoriasis looks like.
The genitals are a sensitive area, so your skin is likely to be tender. Genital psoriasis can cause itching, burning, and discomfort. It can even become painful.
Many items can aggravate symptoms, including:
- tight clothes
Genital Psoriasis: The Care Gap Between The Legs
Dermatologists need to lead in initiating the exam, obtaining the correct diagnosis, and discussing the impact of genital psoriasis with all psoriasis patients.
Dermatologists have the greatest job in the world. We can save a life by finding a skin cancer and we can forever change a life by treating psoriasis appropriately early in the patient experience. Both are equally important. It will be easier for most dermatologists to cure cancer than treat psoriasis appropriately, but we hope to give you a few pearls to help you navigate this complicated disease.
When it comes to psoriasis, we have come a long way. In the 1980s, psoriatic arthritis was felt to be a benign arthropathy. Yet, today we know it can be as debilitating as rheumatoid arthritis. In 2010, Gelfand rocked the dermatology world by showing that the lives of patients with severe psoriasis are five years shorter, compared to those without the disease. The latest revelation in psoriasis-land: genital psoriasis occurs in one- to two-thirds of patients at some point during the course of their disease.1,2,3
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Can My Scalp Get Sunburned
Yes, the scalp can undergo sun damage. Although men and women with significant hair loss are more prone to sun damage, having hair will not completely protect you against sunburn. Just like the rest of the skin, UV rays can still reach the scalp after one spends an extended amount of time out in the sun. Wearing a cap/hat will reduce the risk of exposure.
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What Causes Penile Psoriasis
Penile psoriasis can occur in both circumcised and uncircumcised males. With this condition, red lesions can be seen on the glands and shaft of the penis. It can also appear anywhere in the groin area. The most common type of psoriasis of the penis is inverse psoriasis. It doesnt have the scaling that is typically seen in plaque psoriasis, but instead, it usually shows up as smooth lesions or patches that are dry, shiny, and red or pink. This condition can flare-up without any apparent triggers or causes.
Just like other cases of psoriasis, penile psoriasis can be triggered by many things contraceptives like spermicidal creams, tight-fitting clothes, or sexual intercourse are common causes of this condition. Other known causes of this condition include:
- Dryness of penis skin
- Irritation on the skin of the penis
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Genital Psoriasis And Your Sex Life
People with psoriasis in their genital area have a higher odds of depression and report less-frequent sex, worse sexual function, and a diminished quality of life compared with those whose psoriasis doesnt affect their genitals, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology study.
The study revealed other insights on how genital psoriasis can affect your sex life.
Nearly a third of participants said that their genital psoriasis symptoms got worse after intercourse, and 43 percent said sex was painful.
Patients are often embarrassed by their genital psoriasis and do not mention it to their doctor, but it is very important to seek treatment of genital psoriasis, says study author Caitriona Ryan, MD, an associate clinical professor at the University College Dublin in Ireland.
What Causes Genital Psoriasis Flare
The risk factors for genital psoriasis are the same as those for psoriasis anywhere on your body. If you have a family history of psoriasis, smoke, or have other health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you may have a higher risk of developing psoriasis, according to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.7
If you already have psoriasis, you might notice your symptoms sometimes get worse. This is called a psoriasis flare-up, and means the condition is actively causing visible symptoms. Everyone has different triggers, but there are a few things to note when it comes to genital psoriasis specifically, says Dr. Radusky. One thing that is certainly different in genital psoriasis is how fast a patient can go from symptom-free to flare-up, he says. Athletic activity, wearing tight underwear or tight-fitting clothing, and sexual activity can all trigger a genital psoriasis flare-up, he says.
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Genital Psoriasis Needs To Be Treated Promptly
Q: I’m dating a great guy and he knows I have psoriasis, but recently I had a flare-up and it was, well, genital. He sort of freaked out. What can I do about that?
Pamela A., Bristol, Connecticut
A: First of all, psoriasis in the genital area needs to be properly and quickly diagnosed, so get over to your dermatologist pronto and have him or her take a good look at what’s going on down there. After that, there are things you can do to treat your psoriasis, and there are things you can do for your relationship. First, the disease.
Psoriasis affects up to 8.5 million people in the U.S., and about a third have or will have to deal with flare-ups in the genital area women and men are affected equally.
The most common kind of psoriasis is called plaque psoriasis, and usually affects the elbows, knees and scalp. Genital psoriasis is referred to as “inverse psoriasis,” or “IP” you can have both types at the same time. Inverse psoriasis causes very red, smooth, shiny lesions in body folds in areas such as the groin and genitals.
If you get a confirmed diagnosis for IP, you’ll probably be prescribed a corticosteroid for limited use. Follow your doc’s directions exactly. Sometimes doctors suggest phototherapy or even off-label use of medications for eczema, such as pimecrolimus or tacrolimus. When IP is severe, you might need systemic medications, so discuss all options with your dermatologist.
Sally J., Joplin, Missouri
What’s best for you? Be an informed consumer.
Are There Specific Genital Psoriasis Treatments That Can Help Relieve Symptoms
Okay, so your face and genitals are clearly not the same, but how you treat psoriasis in these areas is similar. Thats because the skin is much thinner in these two spots than in other parts of your body. However, its important to make a few considerations. What makes treating genital psoriasis different is that because the skin is thinner in this area, strong steroid creams can cause unwanted effects like stretch marks and the appearance of little blood vessels called telangiectasias, Dr. Radusky says.
Thats why low-to-mid potency steroid creams, non-steroid cream alternatives, light-based treatments, and biologics are all go-to treatment options if you have genital psoriasis, according to a 2021 study published in Dermatologic Therapy.8 Your dermatologist may start with topicals that have a low dose of its active ingredient and gradually work up to more concentrated topicals if you arent seeing results. If your symptoms are moderate to severe, your dermatologist might prescribe you a stronger cream but with a shorter duration of application. Always talk with your doctor if you are experiencing side effects from medications or if you arent seeing noticeable improvements.
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What Is The Treatment
There are many treatment options that can help scalp psoriasis and often a combination approach using a number of different treatments may be required until the symptoms have settled. It is important to remember to continue to treat the scalp even if hair falls out. Hair usually grows back once the inflammation and scale has cleared.
Treatments can be time-consuming and you may find them easier if you ask someone to help you. It is important to choose one that suits your lifestyle carrying out intensive treatments over the weekend, for example, when you have more free time. Psoriasis is not curable, but the signs and symptoms can be well controlled.
It can take at least eight weeks until you gain adequate control of the plaques, whichever treatment you use. Remember to try to treat psoriasis daily when it is active.
If, however, you have seen no improvement after 4 weeks continuous treatment, you should return to your doctor or nurse for further assessment.
Once you have achieved clearance, it is important to maintain the improvement. This can usually be done with regular use of a tar shampoo and or by moisturising the scalp occasionally with an oil or emollient. Some people find daily treatment of the scalp an advantage in keeping the scales from returning, but this would be a personal reference depending on your circumstances. If you have no success in controlling your scalp psoriasis, ask your GP to refer you to a specialist.
Does Penile Psoriasis Go Away
According to Dr. Goldman of everyday health, penile psoriasis may go away when you see a dermatologist and receive proper medical treatment. It might clear after a month or two while undergoing treatment, and then not come back for around 5 to 10 years.
Unfortunately, psoriasis doesnt go away, and thats why many people are forced to work through it. It is, however, neither contagious nor dangerous. It also doesnt lead to an infection in yourself or your partner. You can, however, reduce the symptoms if you avoid any sexual activity until the symptoms clear to avoid making it severe.
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What Does Genital Psoriasis Feel Like
This probably goes with saying, but a psoriasis flare on your genitals might be painful. Your skin may itch or flake. Sometimes the skin might even split, which can hurt quite a bit.
Some patients may have psoriasis on their body and not feel a thing, but when psoriasis affects the genitals, it can feel itchy, burning, stinging, or all of the above. Patients often can feel a flare happen before they see anything on the skin, says Ross Radusky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Dallas. They may note a discomfort or slight itch or pressure in the area.
According to a 2017 study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, itching and burning around the privates tend to be the most bothersome genital psoriasis symptoms .6
What Are Other Genital Parts Of Your Body Prone To Psoriasis
Genital psoriasis may flare up on
- Pubis : Psoriasis in the pubis area can be treated in the same way as scalp psoriasis. However, you may need to use a milder treatment because of the sensitive nature of the skin.
- Upper thighs: Psoriasis in this region usually consist of multiple small, round patches of rush that are dark red and scaly. It can easily be irritated, especially when the thighs rub against each other when walking or running.
- Folds between the groin and the thigh: this psoriasis looks non-scaly and reddish white. The skin may also have cracks.
- Anus: Genital psoriasis symptoms on or near the anus, usually looks red, non-scaly and inclined to itchiness. Most times, it is often confused with infections, yeast, ringworm infestation or haemorrhoids itching.
- Buttocks crease: Genital psoriasis between the crease in your buttocks may appear red with thick scales, red and non-scaly.
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Causes And Risk Factors
Researchers dont know exactly what causes psoriasis or what causes it to spread to the anal or genital areas. They do know that genes and the immune system play a significant part in the development of psoriasis. Many family-based studies have found that about one-third of people with psoriasis have a first-degree relative with the condition.
In addition to genes, certain environmental factors can increase your risk of psoriasis. These include:
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.
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How Does Psoriasis Affect The 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 painfulcracks 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.
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Can I Have Sex If I Have An Inverse Psoriasis Flare
Inverse psoriasis isnt a sexually transmitted disease or infection . Still, it can look like an STD or STI. Its a good idea to be honest with your partner if you have a flare-up. If they have any questions, encourage them to talk to a healthcare provider before you have sex.
If you have inverse psoriasis on your genitals, you may experience discomfort or pain during sex. Sexual lubricants and condoms can help ease discomfort, pain or itching.
After sex, carefully clean and dry your genitals and reapply any inverse psoriasis medications.
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Treating Psoriasis Naturopathically Over The Long
Orthodox medicine treats your symptoms, but does zero for the actual cause, simply because nobody knows from where psoriasis hails. This is where alternative medical practices can really come into their own because they can tap into the other areas of your body and mind that may need work.
This includes managing stress, handling your emotions, getting all the nutrients you require from your food, and keeping a healthy digestive system. It might seem like basic stuff, but youd be surprised how far we have deviated from a healthy way of living.
Because everyone is different, your psoriasis is going to be different to everyone elses, despite it looking the same. This means that your treatment is going to be specific to you, and how you manage your life what you eat, drink, smoke and breathe counts.
Keep clear that psoriasis is not going to disappear overnight, so dont expect miracles. Chronic conditions take time to heal: it is estimated that it takes one month per year you have had the condition for it to heal, with treatment. Stick at it.
Because of the known link of psoriasis with stress, we need to really take a good look at your emotional life. What was going on before and around the time you started to develop symptoms? Do you have a stress management plan in your life?
The more robust your body and soul is, the better your chances of reducing or eliminating attacks.