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Pustular Psoriasis


In pustular (PUHS-choo-ler) psoriasis, blisters of noninfectious pus appear on the skin. Attacks of pustular psoriasis may be triggered by medications, infections, stress, or exposure to certain chemicals.

  • Widespread areas of reddened skin develop.
  • Skin becomes very tender and painful.
  • Pustules appear on the skin, dry, and then peel within several days, leaving the skin with a glazed, smooth appearance.
  • Pustules may reappear and erupt every few days or weeks.

Pustular psoriasis is further subcategorized as either "localized" or "generalized". Generalized pustular psoriasis occurs in random, widespread patches on the body. Localized pustular psoriasis may be present either on the hands and feet (palmo-plantar pustulosis) or on the tips of the fingers (acropustulosis).

Generalized pustular psoriasis can appear quickly. Within as little as a few hours after the skin becomes tender, blisters (pustules) of noninfectious pus can appear. The pus inside consists of white blood cells. It is not an infection, and it is not contagious.

Generalized pustular psoriasis is a rare form of psoriasis. It is spread over wide areas of the body. It is also called von Zumbusch pustular psoriasis, named after the physician who first described it in the early 1900's.

This form rarely appears in children, although when it does, the chance of improvement is usually much better than it is for adults. Physicians generally avoid giving systemic (oral or injected) treatments to children because the condition may improve without those medications.

Images of pustular psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis on the chest
Pustular psoriasis of the fingernail
Pustular psoriasis of the foot
Pustular psoriasis covering the stomach

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Principal Authors: DermaHarmony Editorial Staff
Date of Publication: 03/13/2004
Updated: 04/12/2011