What’s the Difference Between Psoriasis and Eczema?

It can be challenging to deal with skin issues that won’t go away. Persistent patches of itchy and dry skin, for example, are symptoms of either eczema or psoriasis. It can be challenging to differentiate them, and eczema treatment looks similar to the ones for psoriasis. Here are things to keep in mind about both of these conditions.

How to Differentiate Eczema and Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic condition of the immune system. It causes red, scaly patches on the scalp or the skin of the elbows and knees, though it can occur anywhere on the skin. Meanwhile, eczema or atopic dermatitis is an inflammation—common triggers include dry skin or chemicals. Neither of these is contagious, though people with either condition can pass it down to their children.

What Are Symptoms of These Conditions?

Visually, it can sometimes be difficult to tell one condition from the other. You need to look at various aspects of the rash to distinguish them—both manifest as dry, itchy scales, red patches, and plaques. At times, psoriasis causes thicker plaque, and eczema could produce a serous exudate or leaking fluid. In most cases, though, medical professionals have to perform biopsies to be sure.

How Do You Treat these Conditions?

Mild cases of both psoriasis and eczema usually resolve with the use of topical cortisone. Meanwhile, moderate or severe cases respond to immunosuppressive drugs like cyclosporine or methotrexate. Severe cases can also respond to phototherapy or UV light treatment. Eczema can also prompt secondary infections, so doctors might prescribe systemic antibiotics to calm these inflammations.

Besides treating the root of the condition, patients could also use an ointment or moisturizing cream to prevent itching and dryness. Look after your overall health as well— eat healthy food, drink enough water, and get plenty of exercise. Forming these habits is a good preventive measure against future flare-ups. Coupled with an effective eczema cream, patients can lead healthy lives free from chronic rashes and dry skin.

There is currently no cure for most types of eczema or psoriasis. However, it is possible to manage symptoms by following a treatment plan and taking care of your skin.

About the Different Types of Medication

Atopic dermatitis is persistent and could need several months or years of treatment. Even if you treat it successfully the first time, you can get occasional flare-ups of symptoms.

Usually, you apply corticosteroid creams or ointments after moisturizing, as prescribed. Overuse of ointments like these could cause side effects, like thinning skin. Creams containing calcineurin inhibitors like tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) can also be harmful in the long run. They can adversely affect your immune system.

Many people are concerned about the risk of contracting severe chronic illnesses—like cancer—from using drugs with calcineurin inhibitors. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, people who use these types of creams are not at a higher risk for chronic ailments than people who use other types.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a monoclonal antibody for severe eczema called dupilumab (Dupixent), which is for people who don’t respond to other treatment options. Studies show it is safe when used as directed. However, since it is still new, there is not enough data on its efficacy, and it is still quite expensive.

How Do Doctors Diagnose These Conditions?

Doctors typically make a diagnosis by examining the patient’s skin and reviewing his medical history. There are no lab tests necessary to identify eczema—the doctor could use patch testing or other tests to rule out skin diseases or check if the patient manifests conditions that accompany atopic dermatitis.

Conclusion

Both psoriasis and eczema are manageable conditions. Management of both involves some lifestyle changes and occasional drug treatments for flare-ups. A good preventive ointment can help patients lead regular lives despite having these skin conditions.

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