Guttate means “drop” in Latin (also known as Teardrop Psoriasis, Raindrop Psoriasis or Psoriasis Exanthematic), and is the second most common type of psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis (GP), is an important clinical variant which occurs more commonly in adolescents and young adults. It is characterized by the sudden onset of widely dispersed small red scaly plaques – 0.2 – 2.0 cm’s in diameter, mainly over the trunk and proximal limbs. The symptoms of GP are numerous small, bright red or salmon coloured, drop-like spots which cover a large portion of the skin. Spots have an abundant fine scaling. The lesions are usually located on the trunk, arms, legs and scalp and spares the face, palms and soles.1
GP represents approximately 2% of psoriasis patients and 30% of guttate patients have a first degree family member with psoriasis 2. Among patients with acute guttate psoriasis, 56–98% experienced a streptococcal infection (e.g. tonsillitis, viral respiratory infections, laryngitis etc.) within a 2-3 weeks period prior to the eruption and, it is theorized that psoriasis may be induced in susceptible individuals by streptococcal superantigens. In children perianal streptococcal infections (or chronic pruritus of the anus) have also been associated with GP 3.
Because some cases of GP in childhood may be triggered or exacerbated by streptococcal pharyngeal infections, the role of tonsillectomy as a treatment option in severe refractory GP has been studied. However, the results remain controversial and at best non conclusive. In a Cochrane review the conclusion that tonsillectomy may be a successful treatment modality in selected patients with recalcitrant GP is suspect due to the fact that many of the studies were not of a high enough standard for the conclusions to be definitive.5 A study in 2012 which was a blind study found that patients with chronic GP and a history of disease exacerbation in association with sore throat, generally improved after a tonsillectomy.6
Many other infectious agents have also been implicated, although the exact frequency of GP associated with these infections/diseases is unknown.
They include the following:
- Bacteria – other than Staphylococcus aureus – Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas and Proteus species, or the bacterium implicated in duodenal ulceration, Helicobacter pylori.5
- Fungi – Malassezia, Candida
- Viruses – Flu, Human papillomavirus (HPV), varicella-zoster virus, human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) e.g. cytomegalovirus and vaccinations 7.
- Drugs (including biologic agents) sometimes cause a guttate-type flare.
The most commonly implicated drugs in association with either the initiation or exacerbation of GP include lithium, beta-blockers, antimalarial, and non steroidal anti-inflammatories.
Immunomodulatory drugs such as infliximab, etanercept, imatinib, and adalimumab have also been reported to initiate GP. The Koebner Phenomenon e.g. tattoos, insect bites scratches etc. can trigger GP.
Approximately 70% of patients with GP will go on to develop chronic plaque psoriasis within a 10 year time frame.
For more information read Our BLOG “PSORIASIS – THE RELATIONSHIP WITH VIRAL, BACTERIAL AND FUNGAL INFECTIONS?”
Figure 1. Scattered drop like lesions Figure 2. Reddish – scattered drop like lesions
ranging from 0.5 to 2.0 cm, with slight scale. ranging from 0.2 to 1.0 cm with no scale.
Figure 3. Note the fine scale and the Figure 4. Note the fine scale and the complete
coalescing (merging) of the lesions. merging of the lesions.
Figure 5. Reddish lesions – where the Figure 6. Salmon pink lesions – where the
majority of the lesions have merged. majority of the lesions have merged.
- Zangeneh F.Z., Shooshtary F.S.; Psoriasis — Types, Causes and Medication – Chapter 1; http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/44173.pdf
- Mallbris et al.: Psoriasis Phenotype at Disease Onset: Clinical Characterization of 400 Adult Cases; Journal of Investigative Dermatology; Volume 124, Issue 3, March 2005, Pages 499–504
- Honig J.; Guttate psoriasis associated with perianal streptococcal disease; Clinical and laboratory observations The Journal of Pediatrics December 1988
- Telfer NR,Chalmers RJ, Whale K, Colman G. The role of streptococcal infection in the initiation of guttate psoriasis. Archives of Dermatology 1992;128(1):39-42.
- Antistreptococcal interventions for guttate and chronic plaque psoriasis (Review) 8 Copyright © 2016 The Cochrane Collaboration. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001976/epdf
- Thorleifsdottir R.H. et al.; Improvement of Psoriasis after Tonsillectomy Is Associated with a Decrease in the Frequency of Circulating T Cells That Recognize Streptococcal Determinants and Homologous Skin Determinants; The Journal of Immunology; April 9, 2012, doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1102834
- Moon Seub Shin et al; New Onset Guttate Psoriasis Following Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Vaccination; Ann Dermatol. 2013 November; 25(4): 489–492.