Psoriasis on Your Face - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

12 sources cited
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What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common chronic skin condition that results in thick, scaly patches on the skin. The patches are often itchy and painful.  

This autoimmune disease (which is when the immune system attacks normal tissue) affects about 7.5 million people in the United States. It is not contagious. While anyone can get psoriasis, it often runs in families.1  

Overproduction of skin cells causes the classic scaly patches associated with psoriasis. When dead skin cells pile up, it creates plaques of raised patches. This is referred to as plaque psoriasis and affects 90% of people living with the skin condition.2 

Psoriasis shares common symptoms with other skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis (eczema) and seborrheic dermatitis (scalp eczema).

girl with bob cut hair looking anxious

Can Psoriasis Develop on the Face?

Psoriasis can develop anywhere on the skin, including the face. It is unknown exactly what causes someone to develop psoriasis, but genetics, the immune system, and specific triggers play a significant role. 

Common triggers of psoriasis include:

  • Stress
  • Skin injury
  • Illness
  • Change in weather
  • Food allergies
  • Environmental triggers
  • Alcohol

Facial psoriasis affects about 50% of people with psoriasis. It includes facial lesions and scaly plaques.5 

The most common places for psoriasis to develop are:

  • Knees
  • Elbows
  • Lower back
  • Scalp
  • Face

What Does Psoriasis Look Like on the Face?

Facial psoriasis symptoms are different for everyone. They typically appear as thick red scaly patches of dry skin. The most common areas of facial psoriasis include:

  • Eyebrows
  • Upper forehead
  • Hairline
  • The skin between the upper lip and nose
  • Face

Rare cases of severe psoriasis may include the ears, eyes, and in or around the mouth. Psoriasis in the ears may lead to plaque in the ear canal, resulting in temporary hearing loss.

Ocular psoriasis is not common but can result in vision impairment. Consult a dermatologist or ophthalmologist if you have complications from facial or eye psoriasis.

Other facial psoriasis symptoms may include:

  • Redness
  • Itchy skin
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Mild soreness 

How to Treat Psoriasis on the Face

Board-certified dermatologists are well trained in diagnosing and treating psoriasis, including facial psoriasis. 

Standard treatment plans used to manage and treat psoriasis symptoms include both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medication:

  • Topical medications (steroid creams, hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid)
  • Light treatment or UVB phototherapy (exposure to ultraviolet light)
  • Oral treatments (methotrexate, acitretin)
  • Biologics that specifically target the immune system (Humira, Remicade)

Home Remedies for Facial Psoriasis

Healthcare professionals may also recommend home or natural remedies to help manage and treat symptoms, including:

  • Aloe vera
  • Massages 
  • Apple cider vinegar (helps treat scalp psoriasis)
  • Adding Epsom salt to bath water
  • Oat paste or an oat bath to relieve itchiness and redness 
  • Tea tree oils (may cause skin irritation)
  • Yoga to help reduce stress and ease pain

Prevention & Outlook

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that typically includes a pattern of flare-ups followed by periods with no symptoms. Understanding and eliminating your psoriasis triggers is key to preventing and managing outbreaks.

Medical professionals recommend lifestyle changes to help prevent psoriasis symptoms, including:

  • Using moisturizing lotions
  • Having a humidifier in your home
  • Avoiding excessive sun exposure
  • Protecting your skin from cuts, bumps, and skin injuries
  • Stress management 
  • Avoiding creams or chemicals that trigger flare-ups
  • Safeguarding your skin from cold/dry weather
  • Healthy eating and eliminating food allergens
  • Reducing alcohol consumption

Facial psoriasis can negatively impact the quality of life, leading to anxiety, depression, and social isolation.  

While there is no cure for psoriasis, research and advanced treatment options have made living with the skin condition easier to manage, giving individuals longer stretches of clearer skin and improved quality of life.

Summary

Facial psoriasis is a chronic skin condition caused by an overactive immune system. Psoriasis leads to an accumulation of dead skin cells resulting in scaly raised patches of skin called plaques that typically develop on the face, scalp, elbows, back, and knees.

Dermatologists treat psoriasis with prescription or OTC medications, phototherapy, oral treatments, and biologics. The best way to prevent psoriasis flare-ups is to understand and eliminate triggers, manage stress, and moisturize your skin.

12 Cited Research Articles
  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Skin conditions by the numbers.” aad.org, n.d.
  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Psoriasis: Overview.” aad.org, n.d.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Psoriasis.” cdc.gov, 2020. 
  4. National Psoriasis Foundation. “About psoriasis.” psoriasis.org, 2021.
  5. DermNet NZ. “Facial psoriasis.” dermnetnz.org, 2012.
  6. National Psoriasis Foundation. “Psoriasis on the face.” psoriasis.org, 2008.
  7. Canpolat, Filiz, et al. “Is facial involvement a sign of severe psoriasis?” European Journal of Dermatology, 2008.
  8. Torsekar, R., et al. “Topical therapies in psoriasis.” Indian Dermatology Online Journal, 2017.
  9. National Psoriasis Foundation. “Integrative approaches to care.” psoriasis.org, 2020.
  10. National Psoriasis Foundation. “What’s next?” psoriasis.org, 2020.
  11. American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Are triggers causing your psoriasis flare-ups?” aad.org, n.d.
  12. Rogue Cunha Ferreira, B., et al. “Psoriasis and associated psychiatric disorders.” Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 2016.
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