Erythrodermic Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

One of the main threats is the skin condition psoriasis. This is a type of disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells instead of dangerous ones.

scratching skin with psoriasis

Some skin conditions cause symptoms that just include a little pain or discomfort. However, some diseases like erythrodermic psoriasis can be very dangerous. That’s because it prevents the skin from its normal functions. That includes keeping fluids in and toxins out and maintaining the right temperature. This form of psoriasis is very dangerous and causes symptoms like bright red skin and scales. Researchers don’t fully understand how this condition develops but what’s clear is it can become very severe. In fact, the symptoms are so serious it can even become life-threatening. So, it’s important to know the symptoms, causes, and treatments. 

One of the main threats is the skin condition psoriasis. This is a type of disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells instead of dangerous ones. So, the body’s defense system becomes offensive instead of battling exterior threats like bacteria, viruses, and diseases. If you have psoriasis then you should watch out for signs that the skin condition is getting worse. That’s certainly a situation you’ll want to avoid. Erythrodermic psoriasis’ triggers include ones as basic as sunburn, infections, and alcohol. You can experience this condition even if you’ve never had psoriasis.  

What Causes Erythrodermic Psoriasis?

This is a rare yet serious condition that’s an aggressive form of psoriasis. It causes symptoms like bright red peeling rash over the body’s whole surface of the patient’s body. The rash can cause strong itchiness or burning and also spread quickly.

Psoriasis is an “autoimmune disease.” In other words, the body’s immune system goes rogue and starts attacking healthy cells. Erythrodermic psoriasis is one of the most dangerous forms of the condition so it’s certainly one to watch out for. It can even become life-threatening.

Scientists aren’t 100% certain about the cause of psoriasis. However, it certainly seems to be connected to an immune system that’s overactive.

You don’t even need a history of psoriasis to experience the “erythrodermic” form. However, it’s most common when people already have forms of psoriasis. This makes it important to watch out for symptoms that could trigger a more serious form of skin condition. 

That said, scientists also aren’t sure why this serious form of psoriasis develops. What happens is the healthy white blood cells known as “T-cells” start attacking healthy skin cells. This causes different symptoms like extra skin cells. 

Several triggers can cause erythrodermic psoriasis including:

  • Steroid overuse
  • Infections
  • Heavy alcohol drinking
  • Emotional stress
  • Starting/Stopping psoriasis treatment
  • Sunburn

If you already have psoriasis then it’s especially important to avoid these triggers. There’s no guarantee that you’ll certainly develop a more serious form of the disease.

However, it’s always better to be on the safe side. If you’re going outdoors make sure to wear sunscreen and avoid going outdoors from 11 AM to 2 PM. If you’re going to drink alcohol minimize it. Use methods like exercise, meditation, and yoga to reduce your emotional stress.

Keep in mind scientists are still learning about the causes of this condition. However, these triggers seem to boost the chance you’ll experience this form of the disease that can be very dangerous. 


This is a serious skin condition so it’s critical to know the various possible symptoms. This will help to determine whether or not you’re suffering from the ultra-severe form of the disease. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Skin shedding in big sheets instead of small flakes/scales
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Severe itching
  • Blisters
  • Severe pain
  • Fast heart rate
  • Bright rashes over large areas of the body
  • Very itchy skin
  • Sunburn-looking skin

The symptoms can show up when there’s a new case of psoriasis or start slowly during a flare-up of plaque psoriasis.

You also might experience other symptoms due to the disease affecting the body’s chemistry. Here are some of the main ones to watch out for:

  1. Joint pain
  2. Chills/fever
  3. Swelling (i.e. ankles)

You can also experience various complications. This is due to the body functioning as a barrier layer between the body’s interior and outside environment.

Damage to the skin from the skin condition affects the body’s whole environment. When that happens, the body could be affected by various complications like:

  1. Severe swelling
  2. Loss of fluid/protein  
  3. Heart failure
  4. Severe infections

One of the most serious complications is those due to bacterial infections. In fact, these can become life-threatening so it’s important to be aware of these in particular.

The main takeaway about these conditions is they can be very serious and even life-threatening. It’s not like a sunburn or poison ivy outbreak. The “erythrodermic” form of psoriasis is a very serious situation.

It’s especially important to watch out for the symptoms if you already have psoriasis. There’s a greater chance it could become the “erythrodermic” form.

Even if you’re uncertain if you have this condition make sure to contact your doctor immediately if you see multiple symptoms. He/She can conduct an examination and order tests to determine whether or not you have this serious psoriasis.

Treatments and Prevention  

It’s important to be correctly diagnosed with this serious disease. This explains why you should contact a doctor if you notice any of the symptoms. A doctor can then determine whether or not you have this condition.

This diagnosis is usually made when a doctor has redness/peeling on 90% of their body. The doctor will also check for signs about how much damage the skin condition has caused the body.

If a doctor makes a positive diagnosis the patient might be admitted to a hospital. If the conditions aren’t treated quickly it could result in the symptoms becoming worse.

There are good news and bad news about treatments for erythrodermic psoriasis. The good news is it’s treatable. The bad news is it can be difficult if complications start to appear.

The main types of treatments include drug therapy and topical treatments. A doctor will order treatments based on how serious the symptoms are and other health conditions the patient has. Here are some of the main treatment options:


This is used to treat various infections the patient is experiencing.


These types of drugs are effective for moderate to severe cases of this skin disease. Some of the newest drugs even target particular genes.


There are various first-line treatments that are prescribed for this condition. Studies show that certain prescription drugs start working faster than others.

Topical Treatments

There are several options including wet dressing and oatmeal baths.

These treatments can be effective to treat various symptoms that cause patient pain and discomfort.

Some risk factors like genetics can’t reduce your chance of suffering from this skin condition. However, you can take other steps for prevention:

  • Don’t irritate your skin
  • Don’t stop psoriasis meds quickly
  • Manage stress
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Prevent sunburns
  • Cover/treat wounds
  • Tell your doctor about reactions to new meds

These steps can help to prevent erythrodermic psoriasis.

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