Eczema and psoriasis have very similar characteristics. Persistent red, dry, itchy skin - could it be eczema or psoriasis? It can be difficult to tell if you don’t know the differences between the two, but even with their similarities, eczema and psoriasis have some clear differences.
Eczema is medically known as dermatitis. Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema and usually causes dry, itchy and cracked/sore skin. The extent of eczema can vary between individuals. Some may have small patches of skin but others might experience widespread eczema all over their body. Eczema is a chronic condition that usually develops in children before their first birthday. This condition is more common in children but may develop in some people during their adulthood. In some, eczema can significantly improve during adulthood and may even clear completely.
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The appearance of eczema can also be different between an individual with different skin colours. On light skins, the inflamed skin can look red and on darker skin the eczema patch can appear as darker brown, purple or even grey. Eczema can be more difficult to notice on darker skin types.
There is no known cause behind eczema but it has been linked to developing alongside asthma and hay fever. It can run in families and often occurs in people who get allergies.
Eczema has a common presentation pattern. Even though it can appear on any part of the body, eczema usually presents on the hands, insides of the elbows (flexors), back of knees (flexors) and the face and scalp in children. Eczema can be manageable at most times, but people can suffer flare-up periods where their symptoms become more exaggerated. Some individuals might have triggers that can cause eczema flare-ups such as soaps, detergents, stress and weather.
Psoriasis is also a chronic long term skin condition characterised by red, flaky, crusty patches covered in silvery scales. Psoriasis also has a common appearance appearing on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. But again, it can present on any part of the body. Usually, psoriasis appears in small patches but it can be more widespread and may be itchy and sore.
Psoriasis only affects a small proportion of people in the UK, around 2%. Unlike eczema, psoriasis developed under 35 years old and affects men and women equally. The extent of psoriasis varies between individuals, mild to extreme. Sometimes, psoriasis can be so bad it can interfere with individuals quality of life. Psoriasis can also have flare-ups. Between can go between periods of having no or mild symptoms to periods with increased severity.
Age: Ezcema usually presents in children under 1 while psoriasis usually appears during mid-adulthood, in their mid-30s.
Location: Ezcema usually appears in flexors (back of knees and elbows) while psoriasis appears on the knees and elbows.
Appearance: Both eczema and psoriasis can appear red and flaky but psoriasis has more or a silvery flaky appearance than eczema.
Sadly, eczema and psoriasis do not have a cure but they are being managed with creams or medications. Eczema and psoriasis have similar treatment options and mild versions are both usually treated with topical corticosteroid medications. Steroids such as hydrocortisone or fluticasone can be used as treatment options. For eczema, moisturizing creams such as emollient creams are treatment options for the dry skin. In psoriasis, Vitamin D analogues can be as another form of treatment as increased Vitamin D intake has been linked to easing symptoms.
I hope this article has given you a brief but clear understanding of the two different conditions and how to identify which one you may have. It is always best to seek medical attention from a GP or pharmacist if the symptoms are becoming too severe and affecting your day to day activities. They are many self-help guides also available to help keep the symptoms under wraps without medication. We here at Medzino offer a wide range of eczema medications, check out the medications we offer here.
- NHS Choices. Overview - Psoriasis. [Online] NHS. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/
- NHS Choices. Overview - Atopic eczema. [Online] NHS. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atopic-eczema/
- Mayo Clinic. Psoriasis - Symptoms and causes. [Online] Mayo Clinic. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840
- Mayo Clinic. Atopic dermatitis (eczema) - Symptoms and causes. [Online] Mayo Clinic. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/symptoms-causes/syc-20353273