Guttate Psoriasis - Diagnosis and treatment

How is guttate psoriasis diagnosed?

  • There aren't any particular tests for guttate psoriasis.
  • It's diagnosed by the way it looks and also by finding out if there has been a throat infection a few weeks before.
  • Occasionally a blood test can be used to detect the streptococcus germ (bacterium): this is called an anti-streptolysin antibody assay.
  • A biopsy of the skin is not usually needed.
  • If it isn't quite clear what the skin condition is, a specialist skin doctor (dermatologist) might use a small microscope (a dermatoscope) to look at it more closely.

Can guttate psoriasis be confused with anything else?

  • There are other conditions that give similar skin problems.
  • Pityriasis rosea can look a bit like guttate psoriasis, but doesn't follow a throat infection.
  • Pityriasis lichenoides can resemble guttate psoriasis, but again doesn't follow a throat infection. And the lesions look a bit different to guttate psoriasis.

What are the treatments for guttate psoriasis?

  • The good news is, guttate psoriasis usually fades by itself within a few weeks to a few months.
  • It doesn't necessarily need treating unless it's really bothering the person.
  • No particular treatment has been shown to work better than others.
  • A GP may prescribe a mild steroid cream if the lesions are itchy - although in practice it is quite hard to spread cream over such a large area of the body.
  • It is worth nourishing the skin with simple moisturisers.
  • Although it is related to a bacterial throat infection, giving antibiotics doesn't actually speed up the spots going away.
  • A dermatologist may use 'light therapy' which is where they beam UV light at you in a special box (a bit like tanning!). This is a specialised treatment that isn't available in all hospitals. It can help to clear up the guttate psoriasis a bit quicker than otherwise.

What's the outlook like after having guttate psoriasis?

  • In nearly two-thirds of people the spots clear up and never come back.
  • Occasionally the spots turn into a more long-term type of psoriasis called plaque psoriasis. This can be treated with similar creams and light treatment.
  • Once it's cleared, sometimes (but not very often) a second outbreak of guttate psoriasis happens. This could happen if the streptococcus bug is lurking in your tonsils.
  • Thankfully the guttate psoriasis never properly scars, although sometimes it can leave tiny pale marks where it used to be: these should fade with time though.

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Author:
Dr Oliver Starr
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Document ID:
29412 (v1)
Last Checked:
08 July 2017
Next Review:
07 July 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.