Guttate psoriasis is a skin condition in which small, red, scaly, teardrop-shaped spots with silvery scale appear on the arms, legs, and middle of the body. Gutta means "drop" in Latin.
Guttate psoriasis is a type of psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis is usually seen in people younger than 30, especially in children. The condition often develops suddenly. It usually appears after an infection, most notably strep throat caused by group A streptococcus. Guttate psoriasis is not contagious. This means it can't spread to other people.
Psoriasis is a common disorder. The exact cause isn't known. But doctors think genes and the immune system are involved. Certain things can trigger an attack of symptoms.
With guttate psoriasis, in addition to strep throat, the following may trigger an attack:
Psoriasis may be severe in people who have a weakened immune system. This may include people who have:
Symptoms may include:
Your health care provider 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 may include:
If you are recently infected, your provider may give you antibiotics.
Mild cases of guttate psoriasis are usually treated at home. Your provider may recommend any of the following:
People with very severe guttate psoriasis may receive medicines to suppress the body's immune response. These include cyclosporine and methotrexate. A newer group of medicines called biologicals that alter parts of the immune system may also be used.
Your provider may suggest phototherapy. This is a medical procedure in which your skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet light. Phototherapy may be given alone or after you take a medicine that makes the skin sensitive to light.
Guttate psoriasis may clear completely following treatment, especially phototherapy treatment. Sometimes, it may become a chronic (lifelong) condition, or worsen to the more common plaque-type psoriasis.
Call your provider if you have symptoms of guttate psoriasis.
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.