According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disorder in America. For many people the condition is simply a nuisance. However, for a large portion of sufferers (about 60%), the skin disease has a big impact on the quality of their life. Plaque psoriasis is the most common kind, but there are others including pustular psoriasis.

What is Pustular Psoriasis?

Pustular psoriasis is a very rare form of psoriasis. It is characterized by inflamed skin peppered with raised, clearly defined bumps filled with a thick white fluid and pus. The condition may be acute (occurring suddenly without warning), chronic, or landing somewhere in between. While the basic symptoms are the same, there are actually several different types of pustular psoriasis:

Although they are unsightly, pustular psoriasis is not contagious. Like other forms of psoriasis, it is a chronic disease that cycle through periods of activity and remission with symptoms improving or worsening. Some forms of this condition (generalized pustular psoriasis) can be fatal and some people have landed in burn units because of the severity of their outbreaks.

Pustular Psoriasis Causes

The overarching condition of psoriasis is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. For reasons scientists haven’t been able to figure out, the body begins attacking itself causing all sorts of internal chaos. For people with psoriasis, the autoimmune disorder induces abnormal skin cell activity that results in excess skin cells being produced.

Pustular psoriasis usually occurs in people who have a history of psoriasis, though there are a few cases where people who have never had psoriasis before erupt in pustular psoriasis. In the majority of cases, the eruptions were triggered by a mitigating factor such as drug use, stress, allergens, diet, infections, pregnancy, stress, sunburns, and skin damage.

Pustular Psoriasis Symptoms and Signs

Prior to the eruption of the blisters, the skin may feel tender and turn a fiery red. You may experience nausea, headache, fever, joint pain, chills, and decreased appetite. Within a few hours of having these symptoms, the pustules will appear. After 24 to 48 hours, the pustules will combine to form puddles of pus that eventually dry and peel off. Afterwards, new pustules may appear. This can continue for days or weeks. If it continues for several months, you may experience hair loss. The other symptoms will usually persist until the episode passes completely.

Pustular Psoriasis Treatment

Mild forms of pustular psoriasis can usually be treated at home. The condition can be physically exhausting, so the person may be prescribed bed rest and adequate fluid intake. To reduce body heat, cold compresses may be placed on the affected areas. Saltwater and oatmeal baths may also provide relief from symptoms.

The doctor may recommend or prescribe topical or systemic medication depending on how severe the outbreak is. Topical treatments typically include corticosteroids, coal tar, anthralin, products containing vitamin D, and retinoids. If you are looking for a psoriasis treatment product made from natural ingredients that won’t cause side effects, read our reviews of effective treatments on the homepage. Severe or chronic cases may be prescribed systemic agents that act on the body in various ways. There is currently no cure for psoriasis.