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Eczema vs Psoriasis. What Are the Differences and Similarities? What Are the Treatment Options?

Jan 8, 2023
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Are you bothered with skin irritations like rashes, itching, discoloured skin, and burning sensations? Are you not sure whether you have eczema or psoriasis? It’s actually quite common for people to be confused between eczema and psoriasis, as these conditions may present with similar symptoms.

This article will discuss similarities and differences between these skin conditions and their treatment options.

Can eczema be mistaken for psoriasis?

Yes, eczema can be mistaken for psoriasis to an untrained eye as they have common symptoms, such as rash, itching, discoloured skin, and burning sensations. They occur in similar places on the body, like the scalp and hands. Neither of them are contagious.

If you are suffering from these symptoms, visit a healthcare provider. They will work with you to diagnose which condition you have, and recommend the right treatment.

How are eczema and psoriasis similar?

Some of the symptoms of both these diseases are similar, such as rashes, burning sensations, and itching. Eczema and psoriasis symptoms occur in places like the hands and scalp. Eczema and psoriasis are not contagious, but can lead to infections from broken skin caused by scratching or rubbing.

What is the main difference between eczema and psoriasis?

There are many differences between eczema and psoriasis.

Eczema

Psoriasis

CauseGenetics and environmental factorsAutoimmune disorder (a condition in which the body's immune system attacks normal cells)
AgeOccurs mainly in childhoodOccurs mainly in adults
Allergy to foodCan be presentMay not be present
ArthritisNot associated with arthritisAssociated with psoriatic arthritis
Skin lesionsDry skin may appear like small blisters or raised spotsRough, red, raised skin and skin lesions that may cause skin bleeding
Location

Eczema occurs on the front end of the elbows and back of the knees

It occurs on the flexor surface (skin on the side of the joint that folds)

Psoriasis occurs on the back of the elbows and front of the knees

It occurs on the extensor surface (skin on the outside of the joint)


 

What else can help me differentiate between eczema and psoriasis?

The main difference between eczema and psoriasis is that the latter is characterized by scaly flaking, which may cause skin bleeding.

The other difference is itchiness. Psoriasis tends to have mild itching. On the other hand, eczema can have very intense itching

How do I know if it's eczema or psoriasis?

Use the table in this article (above) and compare against your own symptoms. This provides some clues which condition you likely have. However, the best course of action is to get advice from an expert. Start with your doctor or nurse practitioner. They may refer you to a dermatologist who is experienced in diagnosing different skin conditions. An expert will be able to distinguish between eczema and psoriasis   and make sure you are receiving the right treatment for your condition.

Which is worse: psoriasis or eczema?

How psoriasis or eczema affects each patient varies widely from person to person. There’s no definitive comparison that either one is worse than the other. The good news is that with the correct diagnosis and the right treatment plan, both conditions can be managed effectively. You can live a full and active life whether you have psoriasis or eczema, by following your treatment plan and working closely with your dermatologist.

Can you treat eczema and psoriasis the same way?

Some of the treatments for eczema and psoriasis are similar. Some common treatments may include over-the-counter medications that help relieve symptoms or prevent infections. For example, your dermatologist may recommend topical applications of moisturisers or corticosteroid medications applied to affected skin.

There are some differences in how eczema and psoriasis are treated too. For example, psoriasis often responds well to light therapy while eczema is not as likely to be treated with light therapy. 

How to treat eczema with medications

Eczema can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications. 

The following medications can be used to treat it:

  • Over-the-counter medications are used to provide relief from some symptoms and prevent infections
  • Your doctor may prescribe topical agents such as corticosteroids to apply to the affected area of skin to reduce inflammation
  • Lotions that have an oil base can be applied  to hydrate the skin
  • Immunomodulators may be prescribed in severe cases (methotrexate, azathioprine, or cyclosporine), which reduce the underlying immune overactivity that causes eczema flare
  • Your doctor may also suggest phototherapy (light therapy) using ultraviolet light, although this treatment is less commonly used for eczema

How to treat psoriasis with medications

Psoriasis can also be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications. 

The following medications can be used to treat it:

  • Over-the-counter medications are used to provide relief from some symptoms and prevent infections
  • Your doctor may prescribe topical agents (such as corticosteroids and emollients) to apply in mild cases
  • Phototherapy may be combined with medications, such as methotrexate, acretin, cyclosporine for severe cases (prescription medications)
  • Biological agents may also be prescribed for severe cases, such as etanercept, adalimumab, and infliximab (prescription medications). These medications can help to reduce the inflammatory response.

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