The difference between eczema and psoriasis may be hard to tell by anyone who isn’t a specialist. It’s vital that any condition is diagnosed correctly. Despite the fact that they may resemble, every skin disease calls for its own specific treatment. Furthermore, when left untreated, or treated with the wrong medicines, it may even lead to different, more severe problems. Which is why, in this article, we will go through the differences between psoriasis and eczema to help shed some light on this delicate subject.
What Is Eczema?
Before discussing the difference between eczema and psoriasis, let’s define these two skin problems.
Eczema is a medical term given to a group of skin conditions that cause skin inflammation and irritation. Rather than being one specific condition, these unrelated diseases have a similar appearance. There are at least eleven different types of eczema: atopic dermatitis, irritant dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, fungal infection, stasis dermatitis, scabies, lichen simplex chronicus, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, xerotic eczema, seborrheic eczema.
When it comes to eczema, it’s important to distinguish between the different types of conditions. Each one requires a different treatment in order to be cured. Many types of eczema can be prevented by simply keeping our skin clean and moisturized.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory skin disease. It affects more than six million people in the U.S. alone. There are seven types of psoriasis, as follows: plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, nail psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is often associated with other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
What Is the Difference Between Eczema and Psoriasis?
How do they appear?
Eczema usually appears during childhood. Patients report having a skin that is red, itchy, dry, and cracks easily. Sometimes, people will develop eruptions similar to pimples. The skin can become thick, with crusty sores. Severe cases experience a skin so dry that it will crack to the extent that it bleeds or oozes.
Psoriasis involves the development of dry, scaly, itchy, and red patches of skin. There are many types of psoriasis, but the most common one is plaque psoriasis. The name was given because of the red, slightly elevated patches of affected skin that are characteristic of the condition. While they begin as just a few small bumps, they become worse, and may even become covered with white scales.
How do they feel?
Eczema patients often complain about an intense itch.
Psoriasis patients may also experience some itchiness, but that’s not all. Psoriasis is often accompanied by a stinging, burning sensation. Some people compare this to the bite of fire ants.
What are the causes?
A big difference between eczema and psoriasis lies in the triggering factors. Which is why it’s vital we get the right diagnosis.
Eczema is generally caused by environmental factors. Harsh chemicals that irritate the skin are the usual cause. However, it may also be genetic, or caused by abnormal functions of the immune system. Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, can also be responsible for this condition. Temperature, stress, and certain foods may also play a part.
Psoriasis is thought to be caused by an immune system problem. More specifically, by the T lymphocyte, a cell that plays a key role in cell-mediated immunity. With people suffering from psoriasis, the T cell attacks the healthy skin cells simply by mistake. Specialists still do not fully understand what causes this malfunction. Researchers have linked certain genes to the development of psoriasis, but environmental factors can also contribute. Factors that may trigger psoriasis include stress, cold weather, infections, injuries, certain medications, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption.
When do they appear?
Eczema usually develops during childhood. It is most common in the first six months to five years of a person’s life. Adults can also develop this condition, whether they have had it as children or not.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that generally affects adults, with an average age of diagnosis of 28. This is an important difference between eczema and psoriasis. There have been cases of psoriasis in new-born babies and toddlers. Nonetheless, psoriasis is most common between the ages of 15 and 35. Less than 15 percent of psoriasis patients are children below the age of 10.
Where do they appear?
On the face, eczema is often itchy and patients cannot help themselves from scratching the skin. This only worsens the condition and will lead to further social discomfort. The dryness can also lead to cracking, that may then lead to skin oozing. Doctors usually recommend a topical treatment for eczema on the face.
On the face, psoriasis is not so common. Around 50 percent of the people suffering from psoriasis experience scalp psoriasis. This type of psoriasis can extend to the lower areas, on the neck, ears, and even forehead. When it occurs on the face, psoriasis too can cause many social problems.
On the hands, eczema is very common. This happens because many people have extremely sensitive skin that has the tendency to react to allergens or irritants. Such chemicals are soaps, lotions, or detergents, but touching animals or fabrics can also cause eczema. Eczema on the hand is hard to treat because it constantly comes in contact with irritants.
On the hand, psoriasis usually causes incredibly dry skin. Because of this, this condition can be highly painful, especially when the skin starts to peel. As a result, everyday actions become uncomfortable. On the hand, psoriasis can also include the nails. Some people even lose their nails due to this condition.
On the legs, eczema usually appears on the front of the patient’s ankles or on the back of the knees. When you don’t treat eczema in this area immediately, it can become very painful. Some people even develop an infection, and the sores may start oozing and bleeding.
On the legs, psoriasis is fairly frequent. Sometimes, it will even cover the entire leg. Other times, the patches are isolated. The appearance varies depending on the type of psoriasis.
On the genitals, eczema is not that uncommon, especially with infants. This is due to the fact that diapers and baby lotions can irritate the skin. In most cases, the problem goes away by simply switching diaper brands and the creams/lotions/cleansers. Adults may also experience eczema in these inconvenient places. In this case, they may treat the condition by simply switching detergents, fabrics, and other common irritants.
On the genitals, psoriasis sometimes resembles eczema, but in the form of larger, solid patches of affected skin.
What is the degree of severity?
Severe eczema can cause bleeding, oozing, and cracking that may lead to infection. It depends on the skin’s sensitivity and the effectiveness of the treatment.
Severe psoriasis will require emergency care in some cases. Other times, standard treatments will work with widespread, irritating psoriasis.
How does the dry skin look like?
Eczema often includes very dry skin patches that are fragile enough to cause the skin to break. When the affected area starts to peel, it often resembles a sunburn or a blister. Sometimes, the skin will peel but it will not develop into an open wound. Other times, the blisters will open, or the skin peels deep enough to turn into an open wound. When this happens, bacterial or viral infections may occur.
Psoriasis patches can have a thick buildup of white dead cells. Then, the skin will begin to shed scales. However, some forms of psoriasis occur without scales.
What conditions are they linked to?
With eczema, you probably just have dry, sensitive skin.
With psoriasis, the problem lies deeper. This is another crucial difference between eczema and psoriasis. The latter is linked to a few serious health conditions. Psoriasis patients may also have diabetes, heart diseases, or suffer from depression.
What are the treatment options?
Eczema is usually treated with topical corticosteroid creams. Other treatments include UV rays, light therapy, oatmeal bath treatments, oral medications, or antibiotic creams. However, mild cases may only require a moisturizing body wash, followed by an emollient that will maintain the natural oils of the skin. People with eczema should also avoid soap, detergents, cosmetics, or other products that might have contributed to the irritation. Changing the diet may also help manage atopic dermatitis.
Psoriasis is treated with topical corticosteroid creams. Other treatment options include phototherapy, photochemotherapy, and systemic treatment (cyclosporine, methotrexate, and retinoids). While specialists may treat both conditions similarly, it’s important to know the difference between eczema and psoriasis and follow the doctor’s orders. If using a wrong treatment, it could have serious side effects. Furthermore, psoriasis is incurable and patients must follow a long-lasting treatment plan to get relief from the symptoms.
While you now know the difference between eczema and psoriasis, the next, obvious step is to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. Only a specialists can provide a correct diagnosis and offer you the best solutions to treating your condition. While some forms of eczema are easier to manage, psoriasis requires a more extensive treatment plan. Be aware of the consequences of self-medication and always follow the doctor’s orders.