Eczema or Psoriasis: What’s the Difference?
Raised, red, itchy dry spots. Which is it, eczema or psoriasis? It can be difficult to tell the difference, but your board-certified dermatologists at Genesis Dermatology in Jupiter, Florida, encounter both and can help you distinguish the two, and devise an appropriate treatment plan.
Both are inflammatory skin conditions, but it’s important that each be diagnosed correctly, because each requires different treatments.
Eczema is usually exacerbated by environmental factors, often by exposure to such irritants as harsh chemicals, bacteria, or food allergies. Psoriasis generally arises from a genetic link, but family history can also play a role in eczema. Eczema is more often seen in children, however, approximately ten percent of patients continue with eczema throughout adulthood. Psoriasis tends to manifest in adulthood. Eczema is usually accompanied by an intense itch; psoriasis may also cause itchiness, but is often accompanied by a severe stinging or burning sensation.
One of the telltale differences is in the appearance of the skin involved in the condition. While both involve raised silvery and/or scaly red patches, close examination reveals that with psoriasis, the skin tends to be thicker and more inflamed than with eczema. That’s because psoriasis is caused when the patient’s immune system triggers skin cells to grow abnormally fast, and instead of sloughing off as they normally do, they build up and remain on the skin’s surface. Psoriasis is also extremely common on the scalp.
According the the American Academy of Dermatology, both conditions can overlap, and when it’s difficult to tell the difference, the patient might be diagnosed with “psoriasiform dermatitis.”
Adding to the confusion, it may not be either condition. Dry, itchy, painful skin conditions could be a host of other diseases, infections, or irritations. This is why it’s important to have your complaint professionally diagnosed by the experts here at Genesis Dermatology.
Whichever condition you have, while they may not be physically debilitating, they can can cause emotional issues, from embarrassment to reduced self-esteem. Unfortunately, it is usually not possible to effect a cure for either eczema or psoriasis. But new advances in treatment have allowed for significant control of both conditions.
In the past, we would prescribe topical steroids to treat eczema and psoriasis, but these often come with significant side effects, including thinning of the skin and broken capillaries, when used for extended periods of time. Older oral treatments for psoriasis were often largely ineffective or highly toxic to the bone marrow, kidneys, or liver.
These days new classes of drugs allow for more effective treatment of both conditions with fewer side effects. This includes the so-called “biologics” for psoriasis and immunomodulators for eczema. These treatments works by stopping the inflammation that triggers psoriasis and eczema in a more precise mechanism sparing most toxic side effects.
If you suffer from either of these common conditions, please contact us. We can help.