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Psoriasis vs. Eczema: Differences in Symptoms and Treatment

PsoriasisorEczema2

Dry and scaly skin woes can be due to a number of skin conditions. Two that can sometimes appear so similar that it’s tough for doctors to tell the difference are psoriasis and eczema. Psoriasis is a condition that occurs when a person’s immune system triggers skin cells to grow faster than they usually should. Instead of the dead skin cells coming off the skin, they build up on the skin. Eczema, which is also known as atopic dermatitis, can be caused by a number of factors. These include environmental factors, bacteria exposure, allergens, and family history. Both conditions can cause red, itchy skin but have different causes and different treatments. As a result, it’s important to understand the differences.

Similarities and differences in symptoms

Both eczema and psoriasis are skin conditions that can keep the skin from appearing smooth and healthy. However, there are several differences that a doctor will use to differentiate eczema from psoriasis or other skin conditions. While there is one eczema type, there are five different types of psoriasis. However, the most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, which is the form that most clearly resembles eczema.


Appearance

Psoriasis tends to cause thick, red, and scaly patches. They are usually well-defined. Eczema causes patches that are red or brown-gray in color. However, sometimes the areas may be different and appear as small, raised bumps. They can have a “crust” on them and leak fluid.


Location

Eczema tends to appear in the “bends” of the skin, such as the crooks of elbows and backs of the knee. Psoriasis can also appear on the elbows and knees. However, both may also appear on the face, buttocks, or scalp, most commonly in children.


Itching

Itching can be one of the significant differences between eczema and psoriasis. Psoriasis tends to cause mild itching while eczema causes intense itching. If a person does scratch the skin, the results can be swollen, sensitive, and even raw skin. Eczema itching is usually worse at night.


Age of Occurrence

Children tend to experience eczema at greater rates than adults. According to the Nemours Foundation, eczema tends to subside at about age 5 or 6. However, some young people may have flare-ups during puberty. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis typically develops between the ages of 15 and 35. Babies rarely have psoriasis. The American Academy of Dermatology estimate that 1 percent of children have psoriasis, while 10 percent of children will have eczema, according to the Nemours Foundation.


Additional symptoms

Psoriasis can sometimes cause joint stiffness as well as swelling. In addition, psoriasis can also affect the nails. Eczema does not typically involve these areas, particularly in regards to joint swelling.


Treatments for psoriasis

Certain factors are known to trigger psoriasis episodes or worsen existing psoriasis. Examples include:

  • Infections Cold weather

  • Excess alcohol consumption

  • Smoking

  • Stress

  • Taking certain medications, such as lithium and high blood pressure medicines

Keeping the skin clean and moisturized while avoiding harsh soaps and very hot water can relieve psoriasis discomfort and reduce any itching. Mild-to-moderate psoriasis treatments can include applying corticosteroids. These medications are available over the counter. They work by reducing inflammation and itching. In addition, they stop skin cells from growing too quickly. Applying moisturizing creams is also helpful because it can lessen itching, dryness, and scratching. While it won’t necessarily heal psoriasis, it can reduce the symptoms.


Moderate-to-severe psoriasis can be treated with stronger medications available by prescription. These include:

  • Anthralin: This medication promotes normal DNA activity in the skin, which can reduce the incidence of psoriasis. However, the cream can be highly irritating and staining to areas of skin unaffected by psoriasis.

  • Coal tar: This product can help to reduce inflammation and scaling. The topical product is available both over the counter and by prescription.

  • Salicylic acid: This ingredient is included in medicated shampoos and topical solutions. When applied to the skin, it can reduce psoriasis’ scaly appearance and encourages new skin cells to replace old ones.

  • Synthetic Vitamin D creams and solutions: Prescription Vitamin D creams include calcipotriene or calcitriol.

  • Topical retinoids: Retinoids are a form of vitamin A that encourage new skin cells to replace old ones. However, topical forms can be irritating to the skin and make it especially sensitive to the sun.

Like eczema, psoriasis can be treated with light therapy, which is also known as phototherapy. This treatment involves controlled exposure to ultraviolet