Many conditions can leave your skin itchy and red, so how can you tell what’s causing your troubles? Psoriasis and eczema are two of many skin conditions commonly confused with each other due to similar symptoms. Whether you’re itching for knowledge or just itching in general, we’re breaking down what you need to know about psoriasis and eczema.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes an overproduction of skin cells. When these cells die, they build up into scaly, white patches. Eczema is a reaction between your skin and an irritant that causes dry, cracked, and inflamed skin.
Both psoriasis and eczema can lead to itchy, aggravated skin. Neither is contagious nor curable. It’s human nature to want to scratch at something that itches, but you should avoid doing so regardless of which condition you have. Scratching the skin can introduce bacteria and germs to the broken skin and lead to infection.
The immune system is responsible for both conditions. With psoriasis, the immune system produces too many skin cells that build up. With eczema, the immune system has an extreme reaction to certain irritants (soap, chemicals, allergens, etc.) that come into contact with your skin.
Eczema often comes with pus-filled blisters and inflamed, peeling, or cracked skin, while psoriasis typically results in patches of scaly skin. However, psoriasis can sometimes cause red, inflamed patches of skin that aren’t scaly, which is why it’s often confused for other conditions. Eczema usually becomes milder with age, but that’s not the case with psoriasis. For an accurate diagnosis, share your symptoms with your doctor.
You can manage either condition through a combination of medication and a healthy lifestyle. After diagnosis, a doctor will typically prescribe a topical corticosteroid that can decrease the pain and help your skin heal faster. You should combine this medication regimen with healthy habits to get the best results. Smoking, excessive drinking, and an unhealthy diet can cause flare-ups for both conditions. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink, eat a balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals, and drink plenty of water. Stress can also exacerbate both conditions, so learning how to deal with stress productively can reduce flare-ups as well.
If you or your child is in need of treatment, visit a primary care physician or pediatrician at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group. Our team of experienced doctors can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan to stop the itch.
Healthline | Psoriasis vs Eczema: What Is the Difference?
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National Psoriasis Foundation | Psoriasis Causes & Triggers
Healthline | Eczema: Definition, Causes, Treatments, and Pictures