Both eczema and psoriasis are skin conditions characterized by noticeable inflammation. While they are not the same, they can have similar symptoms. Consequently, people tend to confuse the two conditions.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a collection of chronic skin conditions characterized by rashes and inflammation. The most common form is sometimes called atopic dermatitis. This condition typically starts in infancy or early childhood. Some people eventually outgrow it, while others continue to have it as adults.
Eczema is believed to have a mixture of environmental and hereditary factors. The condition does run in families, and some forms of eczema are triggered hypersensitivity reactions.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by thick scaly patches of skin that can be red, white or silver. The patches are caused by skin cells that are multiplying and growing too quickly. Skin cells normally take four weeks to grow and reach the surface of the skin. In a psoriasis patient, that same process can take just days.
Researchers believe that psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system overreacts to a stimulus. Like eczema, the condition can run in families.
Differences between eczema and psoriasis
- Age of patient: Eczema is most common in infants and small children while psoriasis is most common in adults.
- Appearance of the skin: In psoriasis, the patient develops thick patches or plaques of silver or white scales. The surrounding skin becomes red, inflamed and itchy. Eczema also has red and inflamed skin, but there are less In eczema, the rashes can sometimes become filled with fluid.
- Location: Psoriasis is most common on the knees and elbows, although it can occur on other parts of the body including the scalp, face, and neck. In eczema, the location varies with the patient’s age. In babies, for instance, the eczema is most likely to affect the face.
Mild cases of eczema may be helped simply by improving skin care. Since dry skin is part of the package, the patient should get a humidifier. They should also avoid very long or very hot showers or baths since those can dry out the skin and exacerbate the symptoms. Similarly, the eczema patient should use mild soaps with moisturizer.
Patients with eczema may use over-the-counter medicines for mild cases. Hydrocortisone is an example. Prescription medicines that might help include antihistamines (for itching), moisturizers and creams that control inflammation. Ultraviolet light therapy can also help people with severe eczema. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed for people with severe eczema.
There is no cure for psoriasis, and the treatments take three main forms: 1) skin creams, 2) oral or injected medications, and 3) light therapy. The oral and injected medicines are used in severe cases, especially if the other treatments have proven ineffective. In light therapy, the patient is exposed to artificial or natural ultraviolet light, which slows the skin inflammation, reducing the appearance of plaques. The various skin creams are used mainly in mild cases.
Schedule Your Consultation
At Rao Dermatology, our doctors can determine whether you have psoriasis and eczema. They can also create a treatment plan that can help you manage your symptoms and reduce flare-ups. Contact Rao Dermatology today to schedule a consultation.