Psoriasis on the face is a condition that causes thick, dry and scaly patches of skin on your face. Facial psoriasis usually accompanies psoriasis on other parts of your body. There isn’t a cure for psoriasis on your face, but treatment is available to decrease your symptoms, heal your skin and give you confidence.
Psoriasis on the face, or facial psoriasis, is a condition that causes patches of thick, discolored and scaly skin on your forehead, around your eyes, on your cheeks or your chin. Facial psoriasis can also affect the skin around your mouth, on your eyebrows and your nose. These rash-like patches are called plaques. Psoriasis is a chronic condition, which means symptoms can come and go unexpectedly and there’s no cure.
There are several different types of psoriasis. Some types of psoriasis cause symptoms that affect the skin on your face, including:
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Psoriasis on the face can affect anyone diagnosed with psoriasis.
Psoriasis affects millions of people. Over 3% of the United States’ population has a type of psoriasis. Most people who have psoriasis on the face also have psoriasis in another location on their body. About 50% of people diagnosed with psoriasis experience symptoms on their face at least once during their lifetime.
Psoriasis, rosacea and eczema are all skin conditions that can affect the skin on your face. The main difference between each condition is the symptoms they cause, including:
Symptoms of psoriasis on the face range from mild to severe and cause plaques to form on the skin of your face. Plaques are patches of skin that are:
Psoriasis on your face usually begins at your hairline and extends down toward your chin. Symptoms can resemble dandruff if a plaque forms at your hairline and the scales shed. Psoriasis that forms near your mouth can affect your ability to eat and cause discomfort.
You might experience mild itchiness from psoriasis plaques on your skin. If you scratch your skin plaques, they could break open. This could lead to an open sore or an infection. Signs of an infection are fluid drainage (pus), swelling and a burning sensation or pain.
Psoriasis doesn’t look the same on every skin tone. If you have a dark skin tone, psoriasis can look like:
When the plaque on your face goes away, you may have skin discoloration that lasts for a few months to a year. A healthcare provider can offer treatment options to improve how your skin heals after a psoriasis outbreak.
Psoriasis can start as a flat, scaly patch and progress to a scaly plaque.
While the exact cause of facial psoriasis is unclear, research suggests that inflammation from an overactive immune system causes psoriasis on the face. Cells in your immune system protect your body from foreign invaders, like bacteria, that can make you sick. With psoriasis, your immune system instead attacks your body’s healthy skin cells. This attack causes your skin cells to create new cells faster than they should, which leads to symptoms of psoriasis.
Psoriasis on the face could start after interaction with a trigger, which is an irritant or allergen that causes an outbreak of symptoms. Triggers for facial psoriasis include:
No, psoriasis on the face isn’t contagious. You can’t spread the condition to other people through physical contact.
A healthcare provider or a dermatologist will diagnose psoriasis on the face. A diagnosis occurs after a physical exam to look at your skin and review your symptoms. As psoriasis can appear similar to other skin conditions, your provider might offer tests to confirm a diagnosis. A skin biopsy is a test where a healthcare provider will remove a small sample of skin tissue to examine it underneath a microscope.
Treatment for psoriasis on the face could include:
It can be challenging to treat facial psoriasis because the skin on your face is thinner and more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body. The treatment you use to treat psoriasis on your arms and legs, for example, might not work effectively to treat psoriasis on your face.
Before beginning treatment, talk to your healthcare provider about the possible side effects and any medications or supplements you currently take to avoid drug interactions.
It could take a few weeks to a few months after you begin treatment for your skin to improve after a psoriasis outbreak. Medicated treatments from your healthcare provider can speed up your skin’s healing time. You may have temporary skin discoloration where you had a psoriasis plaque for a couple of months up to a year on your face.
While you can’t prevent all cases of psoriasis on the face, there are some things you can do to improve the symptoms of psoriasis like:
Psoriasis is a lifelong condition. You may experience psoriasis outbreaks on your face in addition to outbreaks on other parts of your body at the same time.
As psoriasis on the face can affect your appearance, some people find comfort in talking with a mental health professional if their symptoms affect their emotional well-being.
It may take a few different treatment options before you find one that works best for your skin. Each person’s skin is unique, so what works for you might not work for someone else with similar symptoms.
There isn’t a cure for facial psoriasis, but treatment is available to help you manage your symptoms.
Visit your healthcare provider if:
During a psoriasis outbreak or a flare-up of symptoms, getting a facial isn’t recommended. A facial is a skin care treatment performed at day spas that involve exfoliation, moisturizing and hydrating your skin. This type of treatment can irritate your skin if you have an outbreak of psoriasis.
When your skin heals after an outbreak, you may choose to get a facial from a spa. There’s a risk that the moisturizers from the facial could cause your skin to react negatively. Before you schedule a facial, talk to your healthcare provider to see if it’s right for you. If your healthcare provider approves, you should also tell your facial provider that you have psoriasis, so they can choose gentle skin care products for your face.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Psoriasis on your face is a chronic skin condition that needs lifelong treatment or management. It can affect your appearance, which may have an impact on your self-confidence and mental health. Dealing with a chronic condition isn’t easy, but your healthcare provider or dermatologist can work with you to find a treatment option to help you feel more comfortable.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/02/2023.
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