There are many types of psoriasis, each with its own challenges. plaque psoriasisthe most common form skin condition, for example, can cause an inflamed localized rash that is thick, scaly, and very itchy. There’s also punctate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, and even nail psoriasis; all of which can lead to life-disrupting symptoms that require thoughtful care.
However, erythrodermic psoriasis is one that you may be less familiar with.different from other types of psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment to avoid serious complications. Here’s what you need to know about this rare skin disease, including why it can be life-threatening.
What are the symptoms of erythrodermic psoriasis?
Erythrodermic psoriasis is uncommon: it affects approximately 1% to 2.25% of people with psoriasis, Research Suggest. This type of psoriasis is similar to anaphylaxis in people with food allergies, Lindsay Bodone, MDNewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center assistant professor of dermatology tells SELF.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the condition causes inflammation of most of the skin’s surface, making the affected area look like it’s been badly burned (AAD). People with light to medium skin tones typically see bright red, while people with darker skin Purple, gray, or dark brown tones may be noticed.
And the symptoms go beyond the skin’s appearance. “People tend to feel that their skin is hot and uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful,” Peter Lio, MDa clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, tells SELF.
Erythrodermic psoriasis can also affect the body’s ability to sweat and regulate body temperature, which can lead to hypothermia or severe dehydration— both of which could be dangerous if not addressed quickly. These side effects can eventually cause someone to shiver uncontrollably or feel like they have the flu.
This condition can develop suddenly (in just a few days) or gradually (over a few months), and usually expands from an existing psoriasis plaque.
What is the cause of erythrodermic psoriasis?
The AAD notes that most people with erythrodermic psoriasis have already been diagnosed with another form of moderate-to-severe psoriasis, usually plaque psoriasis. Experts aren’t sure exactly what causes it, but they suspect it comes down to a trigger — such as an infection or disease, allergic reaction, or even a rough sunburn—which triggers a cascade of exacerbated inflammation, says Dr. Bordone. Erythrodermic psoriasis can also be triggered by taking certain medications, withdrawal from oral steroids, drinking too much alcohol, or stress in a susceptible person.
What are the potential complications of erythrodermic psoriasis?
“Erythrodermic psoriasis is serious and needs to be addressed as quickly as possible by a healthcare professional,” Dr. Bordone said. This is because dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or hypothermia caused by skin conditions can be life-threatening if left untreated.Erythrodermic psoriasis also increases a person’s risk of developing other serious complications, such as heart failure, pneumonia, or sepsis, according to cleveland clinic.
Seeking medical attention as soon as possible is the most important thing to avoid these complications. “If someone has a fever or an unusually low temperature to the point where they can’t stop shaking, they need an emergency room evaluation,” Dr. Bordone emphasized.If a person’s vital signs are unstable, such as racing heart or Dizzinessshe says.
“Because several [other] Life-threatening situations may also occur [these symptoms]including things like drug reactions, it is extremely important to get a definitive diagnosis and start supportive care immediately,” Dr Liao said. Some other rare skin and connective tissue diseases can also mimic the symptoms of erythrodermic psoriasis .