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What causes erythrodermic psoriasis?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Exfoliative psoriasis is the least common type of the autoimmune condition psoriasis. Doctors are not entirely sure what causes psoriasis, but they do know it is some combination of genes and environmental triggers. In the case of exfoliative psoriasis (also called erythrodermic psoriasis), which can develop on its own or progress from another type of psoriasis, doctors have identified several triggers that can bring it on:
  • infection
  • emotional stress
  • certain medications including lithium, anti-malarial drugs, coal tar, and corticosteroids
  • abruptly stopping a systemic psoriasis medication
  • severe sunburn.
Exfoliative psoriasis, which causes widespread reddening and shedding of the skin, is a very serious condition that requires medical treatment right away.

The cause of erythrodermic psoriasis is even less understood than the cause of general psoriasis, which is understood to somehow be caused by an immune system malfunction that makes skin cells grow too rapidly. However, researchers have identified some conditions that may prompt an erythrodermic psoriasis flare. These triggers may include the halt of systemic treatment of psoriasis, severe sunburn, allergic reaction to medication, infection, use of steroids that are injected or taken by mouth (systemic steroids), alcoholism, and stress. This severe form of psoriasis is uncommon but is a serious threat to your health and requires immediate medical attention.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.