Psoriasis vs. Eczema, What’s the Difference?

When most people experience itchy patches of dry, inflamed skin, they often look towards eczema as the main culprit. But when it comes to skin irritations, there are a number of different conditions that often mimic these types of similar symptoms – one of the most common being psoriasis. According to Rye dermatologist, Dr. Eric Treiber, patients with psoriasis and eczema are difficult to distinguish based on their symptoms. And while these conditions are fairly similar, it is important for doctors as well as patients to be able to distinguish them apart, as this will dictate exactly which methods for treatment will work best. In order to decide on the best treatment methods, here are some important facts to know about each of these conditions and how to tell them apart.

Psoriasis is one of the most prevalent skin conditions across the country. Unlike other skin conditions, psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition caused by the patient having an overactive immune system that leads to a persistent and chronic skin inflammation. When a patient suffers from psoriasis, the skin proliferates far too quickly causing redness and thick, almost silvery plaques of scaly skin. Psoriasis can flare up at almost any time, however it is most often the byproduct of stress, certain skin trauma, or even a side effect of certain oral medications. Psoriasis also has a tendency to cause prominent skin lesions that appear to be burnt or sore – however they are far less itchy in comparison to a condition like eczema.

According to Rye dermatologist, Dr. Eric Treiber, while eczema is most prominent in young children with over 85% of all cases coming about before the age of 1, psoriasis appears mostly in adults. Most patients will generally experience psoriasis breakouts along parts of the elbows, knees and the arms or even the legs. In some severe cases, patients may even experience breakouts along more sensitive areas like the buttocks, groin, scalp, and even the face. Typically, when psoriasis appears on the scalp or the fingernails, it causes issues like dandruff, brown spots, skin pits, and in the nails, it can cause them to separate from the nailbed. One of the most common variants of psoriasis is known as guttate psoriasis, which is characterized by far smaller plaques of skin that have a tendency tobe far more inflamed and even erupt into infections. In order to treat psoriasis, Dr. Eric Treiber uses a variety of methods, including steroid creams or vitamin D-based topicals. If the condition is more severe however, it may require the use of procedures like phototherapy, or injectable medication.

When it comes to a similar condition like eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, the main cause is most often hypersensitivity to certain skin irritants. As we previously stated, eczema appears mostly during the childhood years and while most patients will outgrow it by their teens, in many adults it can remain and even worsen. The most common reason for eczema is family history, however, according to Rye dermatologist, Dr. Eric Treiber, there are some links to conditions like asthma or even hay fever. Again, like psoriasis, eczema often causes red inflamed skin, and similarly dry, cracked, peeling and sometimes bumpy, blistered skin. However, unlike psoriasis, eczema is dramatically itchier – often appearing on the parts of the skin opposite psoriasis – the space behind the knees or the inner part of the elbows (as opposed to the outer).

In order to treat psoriasis, Rye dermatologist, Dr. Eric Treiber will often recommend avoiding certain triggers such as harsh soaps, detergents (when washing clothes), skincare products, certain allergens, and cold, dry conditions. As we avoid these triggers, eczema will often heal on its own. Otherwise using certain topical moisturizers and creams can also help. When it comes to these two common skin conditions, once you are able to distinguish the two, you will be able to find the best treatment solutions that are right for you. For more information on these two conditions, or other skincare help, contact Treiber Dermatology today.