Most skin conditions are associated with itchy dry skin and can be quite uncomfortable. A perfect example is psoriasis and eczema; these are common than you can imagine and affect millions of people globally. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, over eight million US residents have psoriasis.
Both conditions exhibit similar symptoms, ranging from dry and itchy skin. This leads to inflammation, redness, and swelling, which may cause your skin to crack. Due to their similarities, most patients confuse the two conditions, but there’s a big difference between eczema and psoriasis. However, you can only tell this through proper diagnosis.
What is psoriasis & What are its symptoms?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that affects the skin and joints. It’s very persistent, and the severity varies from one person to the other. It occurs when your immune system leads to an overgrowth of skin cells, leading to a build-up of dead cells on the skin surface.
Psoriasis causes a lot of itching, making the skin to appear red and scaly. However, the outbursts appear in patches known as psoriatic plaques. These patches occur when the skin gets inflamed and due to excessive skin production. You’ll notice these patches around the elbow and knees, although some people have reported outbreaks in the genital area and scalp.
There are different types of psoriasis, these are;
- Plaque psoriasis
- Flexural psoriasis
- Pustular psoriasis
- Guttate psoriasis
- Nail psoriasis
- Erythrodermic psoriasis
What is eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition and is an inflammation of the epidermis, which is the top outer layer of the skin. Just like psoriasis, it’s very persistent and causes rashes and skin dryness. The common symptoms of eczema include redness, swelling, and inflammation. Skin blisters, flaking, cracking, or bleeding of the skin are also common.
You may also experience slight skin discoloration, which happens as the outbreaks try to heal by themselves. What of scarring? Scarring is rare but occurs in severe cases of the disease.
What are the differences between eczema and psoriasis?
Eczema is mostly mistaken for psoriasis, but the two conditions are different. Both are inflammatory skin conditions that present in different age groups. Psoriasis usually affects adults, and its primary cause is genetics. On the other hand, eczema is more common in young children and is often triggered by irritants such as chemicals, humid weather, or certain foods. Unlike psoriasis, eczema exhibits in the flexor point of the joints.
What’s more, although both conditions cause severe itching, the appearance of the rashes differs. While eczema may exhibit as raised spots and small blisters, psoriasis is rough with raised and reddish skin.
Again, if you suffer from eczema, summer may not be your best season. Most eczema patients are sensitive to heat, and excessive sweating can lead to more skin flare. This isn’t the case with psoriasis, though. UV light can help curb the abnormal cell growth associated with psoriasis and is one of the standard treatment options.
The level of itching may also vary and will help the dermatologist in diagnosis. Usually, psoriasis is associated with molder itching and sometimes skin burns. However, eczema leads to intense itching, which can cause bleeding after continuous scratching.
Both conditions affect most parts of your body but are common in the scalp, elbows, knees, face, and buttocks. Also, they can be managed using multiple medications and therapies.
Can you have both psoriasis and eczema?
Of course, you can suffer from the two conditions but will need different treatments. This requires proper diagnosis, though! Doctors mostly misdiagnose both conditions since the diagnosis is based on a physical exam. If this happens, you may end up being treated for one condition instead of both.
Psoriasis is more inflammatory than eczema and will cause raised and scaly colored patches on the skin. Also, some things can worsen psoriasis; these include infections, extreme weather, sunburns, stress, and smoking. Some medications are also to blame, and these may be lithium and some high blood pressure drugs. It’s advisable to avoid these triggers to ease the symptoms.
There are many other measures that you can take to relieve mild psoriasis symptoms. For instance, keeping the skin clean and moisturized will help relieve dryness and itching. This works best when you avoid using harsh soaps and very hot water when bathing.
For moderate to severe cases, the doctor will prescribe some medications to ease the symptoms. These are;
- Topical corticosteroids-These can be ointments or creams that will help reduce inflammation and itching.
- Anthralin- Anthralin is a topical that helps slow down the accelerated growth of skin cells.
- Coal tar- Coal tar is a topical medication that helps with inflammation and scaling.
- Synthetic Vitamin D creams- These help low own skin cell growth, reduce scaliness, and falter aside skin lesions. Examples of prescription Vitamin D creams are; calcipotriene and calcitriol.
- Salicylic acid- You’ll find this ingredient in most medicated shampoos and topicals. It will help reduce skin scaliness and will improve the effectiveness of other medications.
- Topical retinoids-These are a type of vitamin A and will slow skin cell growth.
If topicals don’t work, the doctor will prescribe oral medications and injectables. They will also advise you to acquire the best products for psoriasis. Light therapy may also be a viable option; it involves using controlled UV light to lessen inflammation and slow skin cell growth.
Similarly, the doctor will have to treat eczema, which may get better or worse with time. With eczema, you may take long before experiencing the symptoms and later get a flare-up, especially when exposed to triggers such as allergens or dust.
The treatment options for eczema are;
- Bleach baths
- Wet wraps
- Consistent moisturizing
The bottom line
There are different types of skin conditions, but psoriasis and eczema are quite popular. They are different with similar symptoms and are often misdiagnosed. To get a proper diagnosis and treatment for these two conditions, visit a reputable health clinic, and benefit from the wide range of topicals and oral medications available. Also, keep your skin clean and avoids triggers that may worsen the symptom.