So you’ve got red, itchy skin that just won’t go away… Now what? The next step is having your dermatologist determine if you’re facing eczema or psoriasis. To the untrained eye, these conditions have many similarities, but these signs can help determine what is the best plan of care for you.
Look and Feel
Eczema often causes an intense itch that is almost unbearable to those with the condition. People living with eczema can even scratch enough to cause bleeding. Appearance wise, eczema causes skin to become red and inflamed. It can be scaly, oozing or crusty and dark, leathery patches of skin can sometimes occur as well. When inflamed, eczema can also cause the skin to swell.
Psoriasis, on the other hand, can be itchy, but that’s not the most defining feature of this skin condition. Those suffering with psoriasis often compare it to “getting bitten by fire ants.” You see, psoriasis stings and burns more than it itches. Like eczema, psoriasis can also cause red patches on the skin, but these patches are often silvery, scaly and raised up. The skin is a lot thicker and more inflamed that eczema-prone skin.
Who It Affects
A common misconception about eczema is that it only affects babies and younger children. While it’s true that these ages often experience eczema more, that’s not always the case. Sometimes an eczema diagnosis is found as an adult. When this happens, it is usually the result of another condition like stress or hormonal changes.
Psoriasis, on the other hand, is rarely seen in babies. It is most likely to show up between the ages of 15 and 35. While more teens and adults are diagnosed with psoriasis, only 1% of children have it.
What Parts of the Body They Affect
Eczema is often found on parts of your body that bend, like your inner elbow or behind your knees. It can also be found in various locations like the wrists, ankles and neck, but it can be limited to the hands. Hand eczema comes with many of the same symptoms as regular dermatitis but can be hard to diagnose at first because many people without eczema deal with dry hands, especially during the colder months.Babies can have eczema in even more places including their chin, scalp, chest, back, arms, legs and cheeks.
Psoriasis shows up on places like your scalp, face, knees, elbows, lower back, palms of your hands and even the soles of your feet. Patches can occur in less conventional places as well, like fingernails, toenails, mouth, lips, eyelids and ears.
Your environment has a lot to do with a potential eczema flare. Allergies are a big trigger, especially exposure to allergens such as dust, pet fur, pollen, mold and dandruff. You may not be able to control your exposure to these potential irritants, but you can limit the use of fragrant soaps, detergents and disinfectants, which are all flare-causing materials as well. Even the food you eat and prepare can affect the balance of your eczema. Juices from produce and meats are notorious for triggering an eczema flare.
Not only can psoriasis be triggered by stress and infection, but it can also occur when your skin is damaged or injured. Some examples of this include vaccinations, scratches and sunburns. Certain medications may trigger a psoriasis flare as well.
Questions to Ask Your Dermatologist
Now that you know some common signs and misconceptions about eczema and psoriasis, it’s time for you to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. Here are a few great questions to ask them once you get there:
- Can eczema/ psoriasis cause other complications?
- How can I curb my itching/ pain?
- Is there anything you can recommend to help reduce or soothe itching at night?
- Can someone have eczema and psoriasis at the same time?
- If I have eczema/ psoriasis are my children likely to end up with eczema or atopic dermatitis?
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