©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

Symptoms and Signs of Guttate Psoriasis

Doctor's Notes on Guttate Psoriasis

Signs and symptoms Guttate Psoriasis New EMH blurb by Charles P. Davis, M.D., PhD 1/16/2019 Guttate psoriasis is a type of skin disease (psoriasis). It’s signs and symptoms are small drop-like bumps or lesions that are a salmon (pink color with fine scales on top of the oval bumps). These drop-like lesions usually appear suddenly about 2 to 3 weeks after streptococcal throat infection or tonsillitis. The lesions may be itchy and they often first occur on the trunk arms or legs; the palms of the hand and the bottoms of the feet are usually not affected. However, the small lesions can sometimes spread to the face, ears, and/or scalp. Changes in fingernails usually are absent in guttate psoriasis but common in chronic psoriasis. The majority (about 80%) of patients that get the disease have had a streptococcal infection or tonsillitis about 2-3 weeks before the disease develops. Although this association is known, the precise mechanism that such infections trigger psoriasis is still being researched. Also, viral infections such as chickenpox, rubella and roseola may trigger the disease. In addition, patients with a family history of psoriasis have an increased chance of developing guttate psoriasis. However, the exact cause is sill unknown.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Guttate Psoriasis Symptoms

  • Small, salmon-pink (or red) papules (bumps) usually appear suddenly on the skin two to three weeks after a streptococcal throat infection, or tonsillitis.
  • The drop-like lesions may causes symptoms such as itching.
  • The outbreak usually starts on the trunk, arms, or legs and sometimes spreads to the face, ears, or scalp. The palms and the bottoms of the feet are usually not affected.
  • Nail changes, such as pits and ridges, which are characteristic of chronic psoriasis, may be absent.
Picture of guttate psoriasis
A close-up view of guttate psoriasis. Notice the salmon-pink (red) drop-like lesions. Fine scales can be seen on the lesions. These scales are much finer than those associated with plaque psoriasis. Image courtesy of Hon Pak, MD.

Guttate Psoriasis Causes

An outbreak of guttate psoriasis is thought to be triggered by a previous streptococcal infection or some other type of infection. The precise mechanism whereby streptococcal infections induce psoriasis awaits more research.

Since psoriasis may be inherited, those with a family history of psoriasis have an increased chance of developing the guttate form of the disease. Some people carry genes that make them more likely to develop psoriasis. The precise manner in which these genes interact with molecules produced by streptococcal bacteria or other microorganisms resulting in guttate psoriasis is currently not fully understood.

Types of Psoriasis Medical Pictures and Treatments Slideshow

Types of Psoriasis Medical Pictures and Treatments Slideshow

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder where rapid skin cell reproduction results in raised, red and scaly patches of skin. It is not contagious. It most commonly affects the skin on the elbows, knees, and scalp, though it can appear anywhere on the body.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.