Psoriasis on the hands and feet is also known as palmoplantar psoriasis. It causes patches of scaly, flaky, discolored skin. Symptoms can affect the skin on the top and bottom of your hands and feet, as well as on and in between your fingers and toes. There isn’t a cure for psoriasis, but treatment is available to help you manage your symptoms.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that affects the skin on your body, including on your hands and feet. It occurs as a result of an overactive immune system. Symptoms of psoriasis on your hands and feet look like a patch of itchy, scaly and discolored skin, which is called a plaque.
Psoriasis on the hands and feet is also called palmoplantar psoriasis. It can target your:
“Psoriasis” is a broad term to identify skin inflammation that causes scaling. Symptoms of psoriasis are different for each type, and some types are more common to affect the skin on your hands and feet, including:
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Psoriasis on the hands and feet affects people diagnosed with psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic condition, and symptoms can flare up anywhere on your body, including on your hands and feet.
Psoriasis affects millions of people in the United States. Specifically, up to 5% of the U.S. population has psoriasis and 3% to 4% of all cases of psoriasis affect a person’s hands and feet at some point in their lifetime.
Both palmoplantar psoriasis and palmoplantar pustulosis affect the skin on your hands and feet. The conditions are different based on the symptoms they cause. Psoriasis causes a scaly patch of discolored skin on your hands and/or feet. Pustulosis, which is a subtype of psoriasis, includes a scaly patch of discolored skin with the addition of pus-filled bumps or blisters on the patch of skin.
Psoriasis on your hands and feet can look similar to another skin condition called eczema. Eczema causes a dry, discolored and itchy rash on your skin. Psoriasis causes scales and flakes on a patch of discolored skin. A healthcare provider will be able to identify the difference between both conditions by a visual examination of your symptoms. While both conditions are different, it’s possible to have both psoriasis and eczema at the same time.
Symptoms of psoriasis on the hands and feet include a patch of skin with:
Certain types of psoriasis, like palmoplantar pustulosis, can cause fluid- or pus-filled blisters or pustules that can turn yellow to brown and then become scaly.
An overactive immune system causes psoriasis. Your immune system fights off foreign invaders like bacteria to keep your body healthy. If you have psoriasis, your immune system mistakes healthy skin cells for foreign invaders. As a result, it makes your cells divide and replicate too quickly. This causes dead skin cells to move to the surface of your skin, causing symptoms of flaky, scaly skin.
The reason why psoriasis localizes to your hands and feet, or any other part of your body, is unknown.
No, psoriasis isn’t contagious. You can’t spread the skin condition to other people by physical contact.
A healthcare provider will diagnose psoriasis on your hands and feet after a physical exam. During the exam, they’ll go over your medical history, including asking questions about your allergies, skin irritants or if you have a biological family history of skin conditions like psoriasis.
Psoriasis can look similar to other skin conditions like eczema, so your provider might offer a test to rule out other conditions or to confirm a diagnosis. Common tests could include a skin biopsy or an allergy test.
You may need to visit a dermatologist to receive a psoriasis diagnosis.
Treatment for psoriasis on the hands and feet could include:
Some of these medications could cause side effects, especially if you’re taking medications that could interact with these drugs or if you’re pregnant, nursing or planning on becoming pregnant. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting treatment to see if there are side effects.
It could take several weeks to see results from your treatment for psoriasis on your hands and feet. Once you begin treatment, you might feel immediate relief from itchiness. Plaques on your skin or scaly patches can last for a couple of weeks to several months, even with treatment. Your healthcare provider will create a treatment plan to help your skin clear up so you can feel better sooner.
There’s no known way to prevent psoriasis, but you can reduce your risk of developing a flare-up of psoriasis symptoms on your hands and feet by:
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition. This means it can come and go throughout your life and there isn’t a cure. Treatment is available to help you manage your symptoms when they do flare up.
Flare-ups can happen if you come into contact with irritants and allergens in your environment. These are called triggers. Triggers activate your immune system, which causes it to overreact. Common triggers could include stress or sun exposure. Work with your healthcare provider to identify triggers in your environment that cause your symptoms to flare up. Avoiding these triggers can reduce the amount of symptoms you experience.
Visit your healthcare provider if you:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Psoriasis can be an irritating condition because it’s chronic and flares up unexpectedly throughout your lifetime. Some people find comfort in talking with a mental health professional if the symptoms of psoriasis affect their self-confidence. Your healthcare provider will help you manage your condition so symptoms are minimal and don’t cause a disturbance to your lifestyle.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/25/2023.
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