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Notes on Eczema Vs Psoriasis

Eczema and psoriasis have many symptoms in common: intensely itchy skin, rash-like patches, redness and dryness. While they may share a similar appearance and can be mistaken for one another, eczema and psoriasis are two different forms of irritation.

Eczema usually comes with the unshakeable desire to itch. It causes the skin to become red and inflamed, sometimes to the point of being swollen and bleeding. Usually the result of inflammation, eczema can also be born from extreme dryness, irritants (such as harsh detergents or chemicals), stress, and even environmental factors like acute heat or humidity. 

The onset of eczema usually occurs in infancy or childhood, with the condition typically improving with age. It’s rare to get eczema for the first time as an adult. ​​Atopic dermatitis is a hereditary and chronic form of eczema, which can flare up intermittently and then disappear for months or years at a time.

Depending on the severity, treatment for eczema can range from standard over-the-counter moisturisers to topical steroids. When treating eczema it’s key to avoid soaps and products that contain alcohol as well as anything with active ingredients on affected areas of skin. Look for nourishing moisturisers formulated for sensitive skin types, you can also moisturise multiple times in the day to ensure the skin remains hydrated. For severe cases, a prescribed oral medication may be necessary. 

Meanwhile, psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease featuring that same unshakeable itch, coupled with a stinging or burning sensation. Ordinarily, skin cells regenerate every 28 days, but those with psoriasis experience a much faster turnover rate. Their skin cells regenerate every three to four days, resulting in an excess of dead skin cells which appear as raised and scaly patches on the skin. Psoriasis is commonly found on the knees, elbows and scalp however it can manifest anywhere on the body.

Unlike eczema which more often than not shows up in childhood, psoriasis is likely to emerge in early adulthood. Psoriasis is considered to be a life-long condition, and can sometimes point to a more serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression.

Given that psoriasis is a chronic condition (and therefore without cure), treatment is focused on managing symptoms rather than eliminating them entirely. Treatments can include prescription retinol creams, steroid creams, light therapy and medications. 

As always, it’s best to see a dermatologist if you suspect you are experiencing either eczema or psoriasis especially before it becomes unmanageable for a thorough consultation to correctly diagnose and recommend an appropriate course of action.