Does Psoriasis Have a Smell?

Medically Reviewed on 4/23/2021
None of the types of psoriasis have any smell

There are several types of psoriasis and none of the types have any smell. If you notice an odor from your psoriasis, it is possible that there is a secondary bacterial or fungal infection on the affected skin. Inverse psoriasis, a type of psoriasis which develops as shiny red patches in skin folds is more likely to also concurrently have an infection which can smell.

Intertrigo is another skin condition which appears similar to inverse psoriasis and may be confused with it. Intertrigo can have a foul smell because it is caused by fungal (e.g. yeast) or bacterial infections that develop from friction in skin folds that are moist with sweat.

Some of the topical applications, such as coal tar, used to treat psoriasis, can smell strong and the treated skin may retain the odor. Scalp psoriasis may sometimes develop a smell because of plaque and oil build up, if the scaly flakes are not properly removed and the hair thoroughly washed.

Does psoriasis leak fluid?

Most types of psoriasis are likely to be dry and scaly and do not leak fluid. Plaque psoriasis, the most common type which accounts for more than 80% of psoriasis cases, forms dry, scaly buildup of skin cells, which can crack and bleed, but does not leak fluid. In rarer types of psoriasis such as pustular or erythrodermic psoriasis, pus-filled blisters form which can break and leak fluid.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an inflammatory auto-immune disorder in which the immune system attacks the skin, leading to rapid and excessive growth of skin cells. Skin cells multiply up to 10 times faster than normal and develop into red, inflamed, crusty skin patches known as plaques, covered with silvery scales. Some types of psoriasis form pustules or shiny red patches.

Psoriasis typically affects skin regions such as the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, buttock cleft and the head of the penis, but can occur anywhere in the body. Psoriasis is a chronic condition but not contagious.

The severity of the condition varies from person to person and some people may develop more than one type of psoriasis. Psoriasis affects the eyes in approximately 10% of patients, and affects the joints in up to 30% of patients, who may develop psoriatic arthritis.

What are the types of psoriasis?

The types of psoriasis include the following:

  • Plaque psoriasis: Plaque psoriasis typically affects elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can also affect palms, soles of feet, navel region and nails. Plaque psoriasis is marked by red, raised and inflamed skin lesions with silvery, flaky scales that can itch, burn and bleed.
  • Guttate psoriasis: Guttate psoriasis, more common in children and young adults, often occurs after a respiratory infection such as strep throat. Guttate psoriasis occurs predominantly on the torso, arms and legs, and produces individual, pink, scaly spots that can itch severely.
  • Inverse psoriasis: Inverse psoriasis forms red, shiny, smooth lesions, typically in the skin folds in the armpits, groin, buttocks, and under the breasts.
  • Pustular psoriasis: Pustular psoriasis is marked by non-infectious fluid-filled pustules on the palms and soles, but in rare cases it can be generalized all over the body and may require hospitalization.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis: Erythrodermic psoriasis is a rare and severe form of psoriasis which can affect the entire body, causing the skin to peel off in sheets, accompanied by pain and itching.
  • Scalp psoriasis: Scalp psoriasis occurs in approximately 50% of psoriasis patients. Scalp psoriasis causes skin flaking, intense itching, thick scalp sores and hair loss that can extend to the forehead, hairline, back of the neck and behind the ears.
  • Nail psoriasis: Nail psoriasis causes discoloration, pitting and crumbling of nails, and occurs in about 50% of psoriasis patients.
  • Oral psoriasis: Oral psoriasis occurs along with skin psoriasis in some people and causes red patches in the tongue, ulcers in the mouth and cracked, bleeding lip corners. 
  • Napkin psoriasis: Napkin psoriasis is rare and occurs in the diaper region of children up to two years. Napkin psoriasis is usually guttate psoriasis and can be mistaken for diaper rash.
  • Linear psoriasis: A rare form of psoriasis that forms in a linear distribution on the skin.
  • Psoriatic arthritis: Psoriatic arthritis, which mostly inflames the joints in hands and feet, usually develops in people who have had psoriasis for a relatively long period.


Psoriasis causes the top layer of skin cells to become inflamed and grow too quickly and flake off. See Answer

What is the main cause of psoriasis?

The exact cause of psoriasis is unclear, but research indicates that the primary cause may be genetic variations in certain cell membrane proteins which lead to abnormal autoimmune attack on skin cells. In people with a genetic predisposition for psoriasis, many factors can trigger the condition, some of which are:

Can psoriasis be cured?

Psoriasis cannot be cured, but appropriate treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent flares. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding psoriasis triggers can help prevent flares, reduce the intensity of symptoms and prolong the periods of remission.

What is the best treatment for psoriasis?

Treatment for psoriasis is often a combination of therapies, and depends on its type, extent, severity, and the presence or absence of psoriatic arthritis. Treatments include:

  • Medications, both topical and systemic, as prescribed by your dermatologist
  • Phototherapy with ultraviolet rays
  • Photochemotherapy (PUVA), an ultraviolet phototherapy along with a light-sensitive drug known as psoralen to enhance its effects
  • Laser therapy

Simple home remedies that can soothe skin irritation include:

  • Sun exposure
  • Sea baths
  • Oatmeal baths
  • Moisturizers and salicylic acid

Your doctor and/or dermatologist can help determine treatments that work best for your individual skin condition.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/23/2021