Managing Psoriasis on Arms

Having psoriasis on your arms can be uncomfortable or embarrassing.

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Having psoriasis on arms, which are often visible, can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflamed, scaly patches or plaques on the skin. While it’s nothing to be ashamed of, some people are insecure about psoriasis on arms, psoriasis bumps on elbows, or psoriasis on hands. 

This article will discuss types of psoriasis and answer questions, including “what does psoriasis look like?” We’ll cover causes, treatments, and how to feel better physically and emotionally with psoriasis on the arms. 

Psoriasis on arms

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Psoriasis on Arms: What It Looks Like

There are many different types of psoriasis, but the most common is called plaque psoriasis. If you have psoriasis on arms, it’s likely plaque psoriasis, which causes up to 90% of psoriasis cases. Plaque psoriasis can happen anywhere, but it’s more common in certain areas, including the elbows. If you have psoriasis bumps on elbows, plaque psoriasis is likely to blame. It can appear as raised bumps that are red, silvery or purple, depending on your skin tone. The areas are often very itchy, or even painful. 

Guttate psoriasis is another type that can appear on the arms. It often presents with small pink, tear-shaped bumps, often after an infection like strep throat.

Overlap of Psoriasis on Hands 

Other types of psoriasis appear more often on the hands, specifically. Pustular psoriasis appears on the hands and feet; it is characterized by painful pus-filled blisters. The skin around the blisters is often red and inflamed. In rare cases, pustular psoriasis can be widespread over the body, which is a serious medical concern. 

Nail psoriasis can affect your fingernails. About half of those with plaque psoriasis will also experience nail psoriasis. The symptoms include dents or discoloration on the nail, including white or yellow spots. Nails can also become brittle or rise up and away from the nail bed. 

Cause of Psoriasis on Arms

Psoriasis on arms, like other forms of psoriasis, is caused by irregular immune function. In people with psoriasis, the immune system makes the cells that affect skin and nails behave abnormally. These cells grow faster than they would in people without psoriasis, resulting in symptoms like inflammation and plaques.

Psoriasis bumps on elbows happen because elbows are extensor surfaces, or the skin outside of a joint. Healthcare providers know that extensor surfaces are more likely to have psoriasis, although they don’t know why. It could be because the skin in these areas is under a lot of strain as we stretch, move and lean on it. 

Is Psoriasis Contagious?

Psoriasis is not contagious, and will not spread just because you scratch it. However, scratching can leave you vulnerable to infection, so try to treat itchiness with a cold compress or cream rather than scratching.

Treatment for Psoriasis on Arms

There are many different types of treatment for psoriasis. It may take some trial and error to find one that works well for you. Treatments include creams that you apply to your skin, oral medications, and light therapy. Lifestyle changes and home treatments, like creating a moisturizing routine and avoiding triggers, can also help. 

If you have red, inflamed or itchy patches on your arms, visit a dermatologist. They can diagnose psoriasis and rule out other skin conditions. With the right diagnosis, you’ll have access to more effective treatments. Psoriasis can have serious health complications, including psoriatic arthritis. So, it’s important to work closely with a doctor to manage the condition.

In addition, psoriasis has been linked to mental health conditions. If you have psoriasis on your arms and are insecure about it, it can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. In that case, therapy can help you cope with the impacts that psoriasis has on you. 

Like other autoimmune conditions, psoriasis is characterized by flares (times of more intense symptoms) and remissions (times of fewer symptoms). While psoriasis on arms may clear on its own, it’s likely to return at some point in the future. 

Clothing and Visibility Concerns

Having psoriasis on your arms can feel especially vulnerable, since it’s easy for other people to see. If you want to cover your psoriasis, you can wear long sleeves (just remember that some fabrics may irritate your skin and make symptoms worse).

Yet, it’s important to remember that psoriasis is nothing to be embraced about. If psoriasis on your arms is impacting your social life or emotional wellbeing, a therapist can help you cope and find solutions. 


Psoriasis on arms is common, especially on the elbows and nails. Since your arms are often visible, arm psoriasis can be embarrassing and may even impact your mental health. Working with a dermatologist to address your physical symptoms and a therapist to address the impact those symptoms have on you can help you feel better mentally and physically.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.