Pictures of Psoriasis on Elbows, Trunk, and More

About the Chronic Skin Condition

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that affects 1 to 3 percent of the world's population and 2.2 percent of the United States' population. It's a very itchy rash characterized by periodic flare-ups of distinct, red patches covered with flaky, scaly skin that most often appears on joints and the scalp. There is no known cause or cure.

There are several variations of psoriasis. These photos depict some of the most common types of psoriasis and their characteristics.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that appears in many forms. The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, pictured above. Plaque psoriasis lesions are round or oval-shaped with defined borders and thick, silvery-white scales atop a red, irritated base. It most often appears on the scalp, just above the buttocks and on extensor surfaces, or joints: the insides and outsides of knees and elbows.

Plaque Psoriasis of the Elbow

Photos of the Chronic Skin Condition
CDC/Richard S. Hibbets

Psoriasis plaques commonly appear on the elbows and other extensor surfaces. The plaques tend to be more than half a centimeter in diameter and have very thick scales; so thick that it's difficult to see any skin underneath. Topical psoriasis treatments help to clear up plaques by medicating them to loosen the scales first, otherwise, the medication wouldn't be able to reach the skin underneath.

Plaque Psoriasis of the Elbow

Photos of the Chronic Skin Condition
CDC/Susan Lindsley

This photo of plaque psoriasis of the elbow was taken in the 1970s and is not as clear as more recent images, but it shows just how thick plaques can become. Some of it has been removed but is growing back. Plaque psoriasis has a typical appearance, but it's sometimes confused with ringworm or eczema. In some cases, a skin biopsy will be performed to accurately diagnose a lesion.

Plaque Psoriasis of the Gluteal Cleft

Photos of the Chronic Skin Condition
CDC/Dr. Gavin Hart

The gluteal cleft is a common place for plaque psoriasis to develop. This photo illustrates psoriasis' characteristic borders and thick, silvery scales on a red base, but there appears to be very little scaling occurring where skin touches skin.

Plaque Psoriasis of the Elbow

Photos of the Chronic Skin Condition
CDC/Dr. N.J. Fiumara

In this photo, plaque psoriasis appears on the elbow and arm. There is little scaling, but the affected skin appears thick, red and irritated. The cause of psoriasis is unknown, but many researchers believe gene mutations, an overactive immune system, and the environment are contributing factors. Common psoriasis triggers include skin injury, infection, weather, stress and low levels of calcium.

Psoriasis on the Trunk

Photos of the Chronic Skin Condition
CDC/Susan Lindsley

Note the thick band of plaques that appear just below the waist. The band was formed as clothing rubbed against the skin, known as the Koebner phenomenon. In this image, plaques have begun to heal. Lesions start to heal from the inside, resembling ringworm. Once the lesions have healed, skin is often lighter or darker than the surrounding, unaffected skin for a period of time.

Guttate Psoriasis of the Trunk

guttate psoriasis of the trunk
guttate psoriasis of the trunk. Wikimedia Commons/Bobjgalindo

Guttate psoriasis is a common form of psoriasis in children; it affects less than 2 percent of all psoriasis patients. The name is derived from the Latin word gutta, which means droplet; it's characterized by small, distinct, teardrop-shaped lesions that most often appear on the trunk, but also on the arms, legs, and scalp.

Guttate psoriasis is often preceded by a bacterial (often streptococcus) or viral respiratory infection about 1 to 3 weeks prior. In children, it typically resolves itself after several weeks, but it can be more chronic in adults.

Psoriasis - Severe Guttate

Photos of the Chronic Skin Condition. Photo © CDC/Dr. Gavin Hart

This is a severe case of guttate psoriasis. The lesions are very thick and inflamed. Some of the lesions have very small, silvery scales. Guttate psoriasis is usually diagnosed based on appearance alone. Because a streptococcus infection like strep throat is often the culprit, a throat culture or blood test will be taken.

Mild Guttate Psoriasis

Photos of the Chronic Skin Condition. Photo © CDC/Susan Lindsley

This is a more mild form of guttate psoriasis. There are fewer lesions and they are smaller. There are also no silvery scales on these lesions, meaning it is healing.

Was this page helpful?