Dealing with itchy, scaly skin? Learn about the symptoms of early psoriasis and how to gently care for irritated patches and worry less about your skin.

right mark

Copied to Clipboard

wrong mark

Early Psoriasis: Signs And Symptoms To Watch For

When a psoriasis flare-up hits, the itchy, scaly patches can be a pain, to say the least. If you want to learn the signs of early psoriasis so you can tend to your symptoms before they’re full-blown, keep reading.

In this article, we’ll discuss the signs and symptoms of early psoriasis. Plus, you’ll read a few tips for caring for your skin when symptoms strike. But first, let’s review the basics of this skin condition.

Table Of Contents

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis patch on elbow

To best understand how to care for your skin during a psoriasis flare-up, it’s important to know what this skin condition is and how it works.

There are several types of psoriasis, so “psoriasis” is an umbrella term for these long-term, non-contagious autoimmune skin conditions. While psoriasis is a chronic condition with no cure, it typically comes and goes, flaring up and subsiding in cycles.

For people prone to psoriasis, these flare-ups can be provoked by infections, skin injuries, some medications, alcohol, smoking, and cold or dry weather, just to name a few triggers.

Even though there’s no definitive cure, the good news is that there are ways to manage the condition and care for your skin to keep it as healthy as possible.

Although there are various types of psoriasis that cause different symptoms, it typically shows up as itchy, scaly skin rashes on areas like the knees, elbows, mid-section, and scalp. We’ll touch on more of the symptoms next.

Before we move on, keep in mind that psoriasis is not the only skin condition that causes itchy, inflamed skin. If you aren’t sure if you’re dealing with psoriasis, eczema, or something else, be sure to consult your dermatologist.

Early Psoriasis: Signs And Symptoms

Since psoriasis refers to several types of skin conditions, it can present itself in a variety of ways. Below, we’ll list possible symptoms and signs of early psoriasis so you can catch flare-ups quickly.

Raised, Itchy Skin

Psoriasis on a woman’s hand

Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. Early on, it can appear as raised, swollen, itchy, skin.


As if itchy skin wasn’t enough, psoriasis plaques are often scaly, too. The patches might look like dandruff or scaling skin.

Discolored Rashes

Psoriasis rashes can be a few different colors, including red, purple, or silver. Just remember that the appearance varies from person to person and depends on your skin color.

For people with brown or black skin, the patches are often purple, brown, or gray. Meanwhile, lighter-skinned people might experience pink, red, or silver patches.

Patches On Knees, Elbows, Trunk, And Scalp

Scalp psoriasis on scalp

Plaque psoriasis most frequently appears in a few specific areas: your knees, elbows, scalp, and trunk. That said, it’s possible for it to rear its head on any part of your body.

Smooth, Discolored Patches

One type of psoriasis, called inverse psoriasis, causes a smooth rash instead of raised, scaly plaques. Inverse psoriasis causes smooth red or purple patches that usually appear in skin folds (your underarms, under-breast area, or swimsuit area).

Red Or Purple Spots

As we just mentioned, not all psoriasis is plaque psoriasis. If you have tiny red or purple spots (especially on your trunk, arms, or legs), you may be dealing with guttate psoriasis.

Guttate psoriasis is most common in kids and young adults and can show up quickly and sometimes disappears on its own.

Acne-Like Bumps

Another type of psoriasis, called pustular psoriasis, appears as small, uncomfortable, pus-filled bumps that may be covered with scales. In the early psoriasis stages, you might confuse these bumps with run-of-the-mill acne.

Swollen Joints

Psoriatic arthritis affects your joints. With this type, early psoriasis symptoms can include heel pain and swelling in your fingers and toes.

Nail Problems

Got fingernail or toenail problems? Discolored or dented nails and unusual growth can indicate nail psoriasis. It may progress to crumbling or loosening nails.

Cracked Or Bleeding Skin

Last but not least, cracked or bleeding skin can be another sign of psoriasis. However, this symptom can also be an indication of other skin problems or conditions. It’s always best to consult your doctor.

Speaking of talking with your doctor, there’s a serious (and potentially life-threatening) type of psoriasis called erythrodermic psoriasis. It causes a painful rash that looks like a burn with shedding or peeling skin. With these symptoms, you’ll want to seek medical care immediately.

Caring For Early Psoriasis

Woman scratching irritated skin

As we mentioned, there’s no cure for psoriasis, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat it and care for your skin to help calm swelling, redness, and itchiness.

Here are a few possible triggers to keep in mind:

  • Stress
  • Cuts
  • Sunburn
  • Cold and dry weather
  • Sickness
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Diet

Take A Bath

Colloidal oatmeal for a bath

While you’ll want to avoid soaking in hot water, taking a colloidal oatmeal bath with warm water can help relieve symptoms.

When it comes to sudsing up, remember to use a body wash or soap designed for delicate skin, such as our Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash. It helps lock in moisture and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.

Moisturize Your Skin

Moisturizing psoriasis-prone skin is essential since dry skin can contribute to symptoms. But don’t use just any lotion. Look for one that’s oil-free and doesn’t contain any potentially irritating ingredients, such as fragrances.

To up your moisturization game, here are a few more tips:

  • Avoid long, hot showers. Use warm water instead.
  • Apply lotion as soon as you dry off after showering.
  • Moisturize your hands after washing them.

Apply Topical Treatments

To care for psoriasis patches, turn to topical treatments in the form of lotions, sprays, or steroid cream.

Many people prefer trying a steroid-free treatment for various reasons, including possible long-term side effects. For alternate topical treatments for your skin (including your scalp), check out these three options.

Psoriasis Cream

Psoriasis cream to relieve symptoms of early psoriasis

Designed to relieve symptoms such as itching, irritation, redness, flaking, and scaling, our Psoriasis Calming Cream helps improve the appearance of your skin over time.

It’s made with salicylic acid and a blend of clinical-grade botanicals and natural ingredients including safflower seed oil, coconut oil, vitamin E, and Vitamin B3. Apply this unique cream to psoriasis patches one to four times a day (or as directed by a doctor).

Why is salicylic acid used in topical psoriasis treatments? It helps soften and exfoliate dry, scaly, and thickened patches of skin. This helps relieve itching, irritation, and flaking.

Psoriasis Spray

If you prefer a steroid-free spray treatment with botanical ingredients and salicylic acid, Psoriasis Soothing Spray is for you. Use this lightweight, oil-free spray on affected areas of your body such as your hands, feet, chest, and back.

Scalp Treatment

Woman applying scalp treatment for early psoriasis

To combat scalp psoriasis, apply our Psoriasis Scalp Relief Treatment, which combines active ingredients with 22 botanicals. This formula works in harmony to help promote healthier and clearer-looking skin over time.

Plus, it’s easy to use on your scalp. With the nozzle tip, apply the product to the affected areas. There’s no need to rinse it out.

Ask Your Dermatologist About Other Treatments

If early psoriasis turns into a bigger problem, ask your dermatologist about more advanced treatment options. They’ll be able to tell you if light therapy (also called phototherapy) or a systemic treatment (such as an oral medication) is right for you.

Gentle Treatment For Early Psoriasis

Whether your early psoriasis symptoms include itchy skin, swollen joints, nail problems, scaling, discolored patches of skin, or anything in-between, you can care for your skin with the tips we mentioned in this article.

Identify and avoid your triggers as much as possible. Then, to provide gentle treatment for psoriasis patches, take an oatmeal bath, moisturize, and apply a topical treatment such as Psoriasis Calming Cream, Psoriasis Soothing Spray, or Psoriasis Scalp Relief Treatment.

Psoriasis may come and go throughout your life, but with the right products, you can manage flare-ups, soothe your symptoms, and live more freely from the limitations of psoriasis.

Here’s to more days living life and fewer days worrying about your skin!

Shop Bodewell