How to Spot the Difference Between Eczema and Psoriasis

Sep 02, 2023
How to Spot the Difference Between Eczema and Psoriasis
Psoriasis and eczema are similar skin conditions with overlapping symptoms — but how can you tell the difference between them? Read on to discover the differences between the two to get the required treatment.

Red, dry, itchy skin is unpleasant. It could be a sign of a medical condition like eczema or psoriasis, or it could be from a rash of another kind.

Eczema and psoriasis are common but bothersome skin conditions that lead to dry red skin. Although they're similar, they differ significantly from each other, especially regarding treatment.

If you're dealing with red, flaky skin that itches, the Dermatology Center of Worcester team can help. Dr. Camille I. Roberts is an esteemed dermatologist who provides customized treatment for both conditions.

The facts on eczema

Eczema is a skin condition that leads to dry, itchy, and bumpy skin. It usually affects children and lasts into adulthood but may also pop up later in life.

Eczema can affect just about any part of your body, especially in the crooks of the knees and elbows. Other areas you may notice an eczema rash include:

  • Feet
  • Hands
  • Neck
  • Lips
  • Cheeks
  • Ankles
  • Ears

Unfortunately, eczema is prevalent and usually appears after contact with an allergen or trigger that develops into dermatitis.

The eczema rash looks different on everyone, depending on the severity of the condition and where the inflammation is on the body. Typically, it appears as an area of raised purple, pink, red, or brown site with other symptoms such as:

  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Bumpy skin
  • Thick, leathery areas

Various issues, including genetics, immune system dysfunction, and allergies, lead to eczema. Stress and emotional problems may also cause an eczema flare.

Understanding psoriasis

Psoriasis is another skin condition similar to eczema, yet very different. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, only about 3% of adults live with psoriasis, compared to 16.5 million adults with eczema.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system speeds up cell growth in the skin, causing raised areas called plaques to form.

The immune system dysfunction leads to body-wide inflammation, which is most visible on the skin, but also affects other organs in the body. Psoriatic arthritis is one of the many complications of psoriasis, affecting the joints and causing pain and discomfort.

The rash related to psoriasis looks scaly, dry, and raised but may or may not itch. Some people report skin burns or stings instead of itching.

The plaques can appear anywhere on the body, including the elbows, knees, nails, eyelids, hands, and feet. You can have more than one area affected at a time.

Psoriasis typically shows up in the teens or early twenties. Still, it can happen to anyone with an immune system disorder at any time.

What is different about the two?

Although eczema and psoriasis may seem similar, there are a lot of differences between the two. For example, eczema is more prevalent in children, while psoriasis develops later in adulthood.

The rash related to eczema is also highly different from psoriasis, even though they can both appear in the same body areas. An eczema rash is bumpy and dry and usually leads to intense itching.

Psoriasis, on the other hand, is swollen, scaly patches of overgrown skin that occur all over the body and doesn’t typically cause as much itching as eczema.

Psoriasis is also an immune-mediated disorder that affects other aspects of your body and health. In contrast, eczema is related to dermatitis and environmental triggers.

Although children can get both eczema and psoriasis, it's more common that they get eczema, which carries on into adulthood.

The rash related to psoriasis is also extraordinarily well-defined and very thick because of the build-up of skin cells. It also looks scaly, discolored, and more inflamed than the rash associated with eczema.

Dr. Roberts is an expert in many skin conditions and can test and evaluate your skin for eczema and psoriasis. After she understands the basis of the rash, she provides customized treatments to help reduce flare-ups of either condition.

If you're living with unbearable eczema or psoriasis, don't hesitate to call our Worcester, Massachusetts, office at 508-452-2702 for an appointment or request a consultation online today.