Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes inflamed patches of skin that may be itchy and painful. There are various forms of the condition, and it can occur anywhere on the body, including the back.

Psoriasis skin patches may feel itchy and painful. They can be red or purple and may sometimes have silvery scales on top.

There are various types of psoriasis, including plaque, pustular, guttate, inverse, and erythrodermic. While they can occur anywhere on the body, they commonly affect the back, elbows, and knees.

Read on to learn about back psoriasis, its symptoms, causes, treatment options, and more.

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Psoriasis is a common skin condition that can affect any part of the body. Several common places for psoriasis skin patches include the lower back, elbows, knees, scalp, face, palms, and soles of the feet.

When psoriasis occurs on the back, it is usually on the lower back. This may cause discomfort, making it painful to sit, wear skirts and trousers, and move around typically.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, when psoriasis is present on the lower back, this is usually a type called plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of the condition and makes up 80% of cases.

A person experiencing plaque psoriasis on their back may experience the following symptoms:

  • thick and raised skin patches, known as plaques
  • dry, silvery scales
  • itching
  • pain
  • red or purple patches of skin

Although the plaques may itch, people should try not to scratch them. This can cause the skin patches to thicken.

A severe form of psoriasis, called erythrodermic psoriasis, may also occur on the back. However, this form is very rare. It makes up just 1 to 2.25% of psoriasis cases.

Symptoms of erythrodermic psoriasis include:

  • intense skin discoloration
  • severe pain
  • severe itching
  • shedding of the skin in large sheets
  • changes in heart rate and body temperature
  • dehydration
  • nail changes

These symptoms will most likely be present across the whole body and the back. Additionally, erythrodermic psoriasis may be life threatening, so a person needs to seek immediate medical attention if they have symptoms.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, which means a person’s immune system becomes overactive. An overactive immune system attacks typical, healthy tissue in the body, causing health problems.

However, when someone has psoriasis, the immune system’s T cells accidentally attack healthy tissue. This causes skin cells in the deep layer of the skin to multiply very quickly, causing frequent skin shedding.

Although psoriasis may be genetic, experts do not fully understand what causes it.

However, there may be certain triggers that cause a person’s psoriasis to worsen. Although these vary between individuals, some common examples include:

  • skin injuries, such as cuts and scrapes
  • stress
  • hormone changes
  • certain medications
  • smoking
  • excess alcohol consumption
  • certain infections
  • cold weather

Treatment for back psoriasis depends on the severity of a person’s condition. Some treatment options include:

  • Topical creams: People can apply these directly on the back. It can moisturize the skin while reducing pain and itching. While some are available over the counter, others require a prescription.
  • Phototherapy: During this therapy, the affected skin undergoes exposure to UV light. This can slow down the reproduction of cells and lessen psoriasis symptoms. This treatment usually occurs under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
  • Systemics: These are prescription drugs that work throughout the whole body. Doctors usually only prescribe these medications if topicals and phototherapy treatments are ineffective.

Learn more about psoriasis treatments.

People need to contact a doctor as soon as they notice psoriasis on their back or elsewhere. If possible, it may be preferable to contact a dermatologist.

A person needs to seek urgent medical attention if they believe they may have erythrodermic psoriasis, as this can be life threatening.

Psoriasis of the back is likely to be plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the condition. It causes skin patches with silvery scales on top that may be itchy and painful.

Various treatments are available for psoriasis, and a person should try to identify any triggers for flare-ups. If someone thinks they have psoriasis, they can contact a doctor so they can begin treatment to manage the condition.