The Differences In Appearances
Eczema makes your skin red and inflamed. It may be scaly, oozing, or crusty. You may see rough, leathery patches that are sometimes dark. It can also cause swelling.
Psoriasis can also cause red patches. They may be silvery and scaly — and raised. But if you look closely, the skin is thicker and more inflamed than with eczema.
How Can I Get Started On Treatment
Eczema and psoriasis arent entirely curable. But, Dr. Wang says they can be treated and managed to reduce pain, control itching and minimize flare-ups of patches and plaques. Whether youâre dealing with one condition or the other , managing eczema and psoriasis starts with a skincare specialist best identifying your triggers. Youâll work to avoid these irritating events, and youâll also treat any sustained skin injuries that may add to pain or irritation. Mostly, youâll work to stay out of the sun and use solutions to help avoid scratching your skin.
Mild cases of both conditions can be treated at home. Dr. Wang suggests using a mild soap, over-the-counter hydrocortisone and emollients, which are therapeutic moisturizers. There are also lotions and creams for both eczema and psoriasis available to consumers.
If your skin doesnt respond to at-home treatments, or the eczema or psoriasis exhibit more aggressive symptoms than ever before, its time to visit the dermatologist. Always discuss long-term treatment with your care provider when resorting to over-the-counter products.
Treatments will vary based on how severe the condition is and patient preference, Dr. Wang explains, but usually include topical steroids, light therapy and prescription drugs for the inflammation. For severe psoriasis, when patients have 10% to 30% of their body covered in plaques, injectable medications, called biologics, are used.
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Managing Eczema In Winter And Year Round: A Parents Guide
Cold, dry outdoor air and indoor heating can rob skin of its natural moisture in the winter. Red, crusty, dry patches can be common on a babys skin, particularly in winter, and cause concern for parents. Such symptoms can be treated, however, and many babies and children do outgrow the dry, itchy skin of atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema.
We spoke with pediatric dermatologist Katherine Puttgen to learn more.
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What Does Atopic Dermatitis Look Like
Atopic dermatitis can cause itchy skin with small, red bumps, or red to brownish-gray patches/rash. Itching is often more common and severe than in psoriasis. Scratching can cause the bumps to ooze fluid and crust over.
The condition often begins during childhood and can continue up to adulthood.
Common sites of rash are the cheeks, inside of the elbows, behind the knees, and over the neck.
Diagnosis Of Eczema During Pregnancy
Most of the time, your doctor will diagnose eczema or AEP simply by looking at your skin. A biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Let your doctor know about any changes you notice during your pregnancy. Your doctor will want to rule out any other conditions that could be causing your skin changes and make sure that your baby isnt affected.
Your doctor will want to know:
- when the skin changes began
- if youve changed anything in your routine or lifestyle, including diet, that may contribute to the changes to your skin
- about your symptoms and how they are impacting your daily life
- if youve noticed anything that makes your symptoms better or worse
Bring along a list of current medications you are taking, and any medications or treatments that youve already tried for the eczema.
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How Is Acne Diagnosed
Acne is also diagnosed through a visual examination and intake questionnaire.
Your doctor may also ask about menstrual history to determine if there is an underlying cause such as polycystic ovary syndrome.
A dermatologist or other doctor can prescribe treatment options for either or both conditions.
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Diagnosis And When To See A Doctor
People who experience symptoms of eczema should see a doctor or dermatologist. Eczema can indicate a new allergy, so it is important to determine what is causing the reaction.
There is no specific test to diagnose most types of eczema. The doctor will want to know the individualâs personal and family medical history. They will also ask about recent exposures to potential allergens and irritants. It is essential that people let the doctor know if they have hay fever or asthma.
The doctor may also ask about:
- sleep patterns
- any previous treatments for skin conditions
- any use of steroids
A physical examination of the rash will help the doctor to diagnose which type of eczema it is.
The doctor may also perform a patch test, which involves pricking a personâs skin with a needle that contains potential irritants and allergens. A patch test can determine whether or not someone has contact dermatitis.
There is no cure for eczema, so treatment involves managing the symptoms and trying to prevent further flare-ups.
Some treatment options for eczema include:
Some general tips that may help to prevent eczema flare-ups include:
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How Do I Know If I Have Eczema
Because eczema is caused by underlying inflammation, it is common to see patches of red, inflamed skin that are itchy and flaky. These patches often occur on your arms and backs of your knees, but they can show up anywhere on your body or face. Eczema is also common in children and infants and tends to appear on the scalp, face, neck, hands, and feet.
However, there are other common skin conditions such as a fungal infection called ringworm and an inflammatory disease called psoriasis that can have very similar symptoms. Because of this, it is best to see your dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis.
So What Does Plaque Psoriasis Looks Like
First, let’s talk about why it looks so scaly. People with plaque psoriasis have an overactive immune system that causes their skin cells to grow at a fast pacein only three to four days, says the National Psoriasis Foundation. However, the cells don’t fall off as quickly, which means they build up on the surface of the skin.
This dead skin creates plaques and scales. They can vary in size and form single patches separated by healthy skin or groups of patches that join together and cover large areas of skin.
“Plaques are a little elevated. They form a plateau elevated above the surrounding skin. If you closed your eyes and touched psoriasis, you could feel it,”Robert T. Brodell, MD, chair of the department of dermatology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center tells Health.
He explains that the scales are referred to as “micaceous” because they resemble the mineral mica, which splits into very thin elastic plates.
“If you stuck your finger underneath one of the scales, a broad white flake comes off unlike some other conditions whereby you might have a fine scale, like dandruff, that doesn’t stick together,” he says.
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What Is Erythrodermic Psoriasis
Erythrodermic psoriasis is a rare form of psoriasis associated with extreme inflammation, itching and pain that affects most of the body. Other symptoms include large sheets of shedding skin , an increase in heart rate, swelling due to fluid retention and significant changes in your body temperature. Its important to seek immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing a flare-up of erythrodermic psoriasis as it can lead to pneumonia or heart failure if left untreated.6
Taming The Immune Response
Prescription skin meds that calm an overactive immune system can treat eczema from atopic dermatitis. Doctors generally prescribe them only for short-term use in people whoâve tried other treatments that havenât helped. They have a black box warning due to a higher cancer risk. So ask your doctor about the pros and cons. A biologic medication called Dupixent, given as a shot, works on the immune system to treat atopic dermatitis.
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Exploring The Treatment Options
Eczema and psoriasis are both long-term conditions that require long-term treatments. Treatment may depend on the severity of symptoms as well as the size and location of the affected area of skin. Common treatments include topical anti-inflammatories, hydrating skin creams, phototherapy, and biologic or systemic drugs to control the bodys inflammatory and immune responses.
In addition to discussing treatment options with your doctor, its important to avoid factors that may trigger or worsen your symptoms. Eczema may be worsened by wetness or allergies as well as certain cleansers, soaps, and detergents. Psoriasis flare-ups are more likely to follow injuries to the skin and can also be brought about by stress or infection.
The first step in resolving your skin issues is to talk to your doctor to receive a diagnosis. Though both eczema and psoriasis can be chronic, finding the right treatment may help relieve symptoms and reduce flare-ups.
Irritated Psoriasis Can Resemble Eczema
Plaque psoriasis can by very itchy causing some people to scratch it.
“Irritated psoriasis in a patient that is doing lots of rubbing and scratching can become inflamed and have features of chronic eczema. The more you scratch, the more it thickens, and so on,” says Dr. Brodell.
While both conditions may cause your skin to be red and inflamed, a dermatologist can tell the difference. Subtle differences in the appearance, location and distribution of the rash, and other clues allow the diagnosis to be made without a biopsy or blood test.
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Can You Treat Eczema And Psoriasis The Same Way
Some of the medications that are used to treat psoriasis may help treat eczema and vice versa. This doesnt necessarily mean that theres a one-size-fits-all treatment plan for both conditions though. A dermatologist can help you find a treatment plan that will work best for you based on your individual symptoms and medical history.
Tips For Reducing Outbreaks
Here are a few ways to prevent eczema flare-ups and manage symptoms:
- Apply cool compresses to your skin, or take a colloidal oatmeal or baking soda bath to relieve the itch.
- Moisturize your skin daily with a rich, oil-based cream or ointment to form a protective barrier against the elements. Apply the cream right after you get out of the shower or bath to seal in moisture.
- After you bathe, gently blot your skin with a soft towel. Never rub.
- Avoid scratching. You could cause an infection.
- Use fragrance-free detergents, cleansers, makeup, and other skin care products.
- Wear gloves and protective clothing whenever you handle chemicals.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes made from soft fibers, like cotton.
You should also avoid any known triggers.
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Nail Eczema: Diagnosis And Treatment
Allergy testing or tests of nail clippings may be done to rule out a fungal infection.
Treatment starts with seeing a dermatologist for proper diagnosis, specifically differentiating nail eczema from another skin disease like nail psoriasis.
Your doctor may recommend the following treatment for nail eczema:
- Avoiding touching irritating products
Nail eczema may improve in a few weeks with the proper treatment.
Measles: A Facial Rash That Can Cover The Body
Like guttate psoriasis, measles also follow symptoms of an upper respiratory infection in children and cause a skin rash of small, red spots. However, the measles skin rash usually starts on the face and spreads down to cover the body and is accompanied by fever, cough, and a runny nose. Measles rash is also flat, while the rash of psoriasis is typically raised. Measles is caused by a virus and is contagious, though the measles vaccination has made this a rare disease in the United States.
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General Tips For Coping With Eczema
Other tips to manage your eczema include:
- Keep your fingernails short longer nails are more likely to injure your skin when you scratch.
- If the water in your area is hard or alkaline, consider installing a water-softening device.
- Swim in the sea in warm weather whenever you can seawater is known to reduce the symptoms of eczema.
- Use sun exposure for limited periods for example, when swimming at the beach. This can help relieve eczema symptoms. But be aware that ultraviolet radiation is a risk factor for skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin. Also, if sun exposure causes overheating, this can also aggravate eczema.
More Information About Hypoallergenic Products
To learn more about how to know which ingredients to avoid, please see our Safe Cosmetics Guide.
You can learn more about how to find hypoallergenic products that do not irritate your skin here at our Hypoallergenic Products page.
You can also find our short list of recommended safe skin care products for different skin types. There are several choices including one product line which is showing great promise for healing the skin.
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What Are The Treatment Options
Though the underlying causes are different, treatment is generally similar, Dr. Fernandez says. You should see a dermatologist for any rash that doesnt go away with over-the-counter medicine, he says.
- Topical cortisone, especially if you have a mild case.
- Immunosuppressive drugs for more moderate to severe cases.
- or ultraviolet light treatment for severe cases.
Also, eczema can prompt a secondary infection so your doctor may use topical and systemic antibiotics to remove bacteria and calm the inflammation.
Dermatitis On Face Treatment
Intertrigo is an inflammatory condition of skin folds, induced or aggravated by heat, moisture, maceration, friction, and lack of air circulation. Intertrigo frequently is worsened or colonized by infection, which most commonly is candidal but also may be bacterial or viral or due to other fungal infection.
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Dry Cracked Skin: Irritation That Can Lead To Infection
Dry, cracked skin is a psoriasis symptom. However, dry air can also cause your skin to become dry and itchy. When the skin is dry and irritated , it’s more likely to get infected. Infection may cause your skin to become red and swollen. If you have any skin rashes that keep coming back or won’t go away, see your doctor. Most cases of psoriasis can be diagnosed with a physical examination but because psoriasis can look like many other skin conditions, a skin biopsy may have to be done to definitively diagnose it.
What Are The Basic Differences
Psoriasis is a chronic immune-mediated disease. That means your immune system becomes dysfunctional and chronically activated, resulting in skin changes. It causes raised, red, scaly patches on your skin or scalp.
There are multiple subtypes of psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common and accounts for nearly 80-90 percent of psoriasis cases.
People with plaque psoriasis typically have sharply demarcated, raised, itchy, painful red plaques covered with silvery scales. The plaques are most often found on elbows and knees, but they can occur anywhere.
Eczema is an inflammation of the skin that can have numerous triggers. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. It typically occurs in people with a personal or family history of asthma, hay fever or other allergies, and it is often seen in children. It makes skin more sensitive and more prone to infection.
At any time in your life, you can develop eczema from dry skin or chemicals that contact the skin and trigger irritation or allergic reactions.
Neither psoriasis nor eczema is contagious, Dr. Fernandez says. But while you cant pass them from person to person, they may run in families.
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What Is It Like Living With Eczema
Many people live with eczema . As many as 15 million Americans may have this skin condition. Living with it can be challenging.
There may be times when your eczema disappears. This is known as a remission period. Other times you may have a flare-up, which is when it gets worse. The goal of treatment is to prevent such flare-ups, preventing your symptoms from getting worse. Be sure to avoid triggers, moisturize, take your medicine and do anything else your healthcare provider recommends.
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Does Scalp Eczema Cause Hair Loss
Healthy hair grows from a healthy scalp. When you have scalp eczema, the inflammation associated with the condition in your scalp tissue does not provide a viable environment for healthy hair growth. Moreover, scratching and picking the affected eczema patches can lead to further inflammation and hair follicle damage, which results in bald patches or hair loss.
As per a study conducted by the Center of Dermatology and Hair Diseases of the University of Zurich, scalp conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis increase the oxidative stress on the scalp, which in turn contribute to hair loss significantly. Also, as per a case study conducted by the Department of Dermatology, Niigata Central Hospital in Japan, contact dermatitis caused by hair dyes resulted in severe hair loss.
However, scalp eczema related hair loss is likely to be temporary and your hair restarts growing once the condition is treated.
The Last Word
Scalp eczema or cradle cap can affect infants under the age of 3 months, which clears up usually after the baby reaches 6 months of age. However, it can return during late adolescence or between the ages of 30-60 years.
Different treatments help to manage the symptoms efficiently but they may not help to cure the scalp eczema completely. While in most cases, scalp eczema can last for years, mild infection can clear up without treatment.
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