Eczema vs Psoriasis: What's the Difference?
Have you ever experienced painful and itchy rashes, flaky skin, or overall dryness? They may share common symptoms, but make no mistake - Eczema and Psoriasis are two separate conditions. It’s crucial to understand the differences between them to develop the best treatment plan for yourself or a loved one.
DIFFERENCE: Root Causes of Psoriasis and Eczema
While the cause of psoriasis is relatively straightforward, eczema presents a more nuanced case.
Psoriasis develops when an overactive immune system causes excessive skin cell reproduction. With psoriasis, affected areas can produce up to ten times the normal skin cell count, resulting in uncomfortable and excessive flaking, scaling, and itching.
Eczema may present similar symptoms, but can instead be caused by allergic reactions (dyshidrotic eczema) or from contact with allergens (contact dermatitis). There are four different types of eczema: Atopic dermatitis, Nummular eczema, Seborrheic dermatitis, and Stasis dermatitis.
Eczema typically develops in conjunction with other allergies, while psoriasis typically develops from physical trauma, such as sunburn or injuries.
SIMILARITY: Psoriasis and Eczema are Chronic Conditions
Unfortunately, these conditions won’t simply go away and there’s no official “cure” for either one.
This doesn’t mean all hope is lost! With a proper treatment plan and lifestyle commitment, you can manage your psoriasis or eczema without sacrificing a full life. Uncomfortable flare-ups can cause both emotional and physical difficulties. With proper attention and care, you can significantly decrease flare-ups and have an effective plan of action when they come your way.
DIFFERENCE: Psoriasis and Eczema are More Prevalent Among Different Age Groups
These conditions can affect people of any age. That being said, the most common form of eczema (atopic dermatitis) most commonly begins during childhood, whereas psoriasis typically develops from ages 15 to 35. Along with performing skin tests, this is one of multiple methods pediatricians or doctors may use to distinguish between the two.
SIMILARITY: Psoriasis and Eczema Both Need Moisture
Shared symptoms such as patchy red rashes combined with dry skin can make it difficult for us to distinguish between psoriasis and eczema, despite the above mentioned differences in cause and development.
The good news is that incorporating regular moisturizing into your lifestyle will help relieve these frustrating symptoms. It’s best to moisturize after bathing or exfoliating to lock in hydration on clean skin. Although moisturizing won’t make your condition disappear, finding the right healing cream is one of the most effective ways to treat the most difficult psoriasis and eczema symptoms.
DIFFERENCE: Psoriasis and Eczema Don’t Always Look the Same
Although they may often seem similar, psoriasis has a darker, more leather-like appearance compared to a more typically red eczema rash. The psoriasis rash itself also tends to be more raised above the skin’s surface compared to eczema. Remember though, there are many different types of eczema. For example, Nummular eczema is characterized by circular lesions so it’s hard to generalize when it comes to the overall appearance of an eczema rash.
SIMILARITY: Psoriasis and Eczema are Not Contagious
Your friends and family don’t need to worry about getting infected if you have either skin condition. Those who are not educated about psoriasis or eczema may become nervous when they see your red rash, but you cannot “give” it to others since it’s not contagious. The only caveat to this is if your rash causes an open sore or wound. This could cause you to contract a completely different type of infection that may be contagious to others.
You can always check with a doctor if you’re curious about an open sore. Healing moisturizing cream can also help reduce the risk of open wounds through barrier-sealing ingredients such as beeswax, honey, and oils.
DIFFERENCE: Psoriasis and Eczema Can be Managed by Diet and Lifestyle
In addition to a proper skincare routine, you can effectively manage symptoms of both conditions through a 360-degree approach to treatment. An anti-inflammatory diet rich in Omega-3s can aid in reducing flare-ups. Defining the foods that “trigger” your rashes and systematically avoiding them will also help. Regular exercising can aid in reducing stress, which is essential to managing a difficult condition like eczema or psoriasis.
SIMILARITY: Psoriasis and Eczema are Both Serious
Don’t let anyone downplay the impact that either psoriasis or eczema can have on your daily life. Not only are they extremely annoying, but these conditions can cause a high degree of physical and emotional pain as well.
Just because psoriasis and eczema aren’t endangering our lives like other conditions, they still cause harm. It is critical to consult your doctor or general practitioner for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, and to educate friends and family to spread awareness and understanding.
DIFFERENCE: Psoriasis and Eczema Require Different Treatment Products
While there are some skincare products that effectively treat both conditions, a more customized approach will help you tailor your routine to your specific needs and better alleviate symptoms.
Salicylic acid, for example, is a skincare ingredient that may be highly effective in helping with psoriasis. Salicylic acid helps promote the turnover of dead skin cells, which reduces scaling.
Conclusion: Know the Difference to Know What’s Best for You
Despite both being chronic skin conditions, psoriasis and eczema have different root causes that require different diagnosis and treatment. While this guide is not a substitute for a proper diagnosis, we hope it can help guide you in the right direction as you explore your condition with your doctor to develop treatment strategies that let you live your life to the fullest, regardless of whether you have psoriasis or eczema.