What’s the difference between psoriasis and eczema?

By August 15, 2014Skin

Although they may have similarities, these 2 common skin conditions are actually very different – so what is that itch safari attachments?

Eczema usually starts in early childhood – before 2 yrs. The exact cause is not known but we do know it’s an immune based ATOPIC condition and is also associated with food allergies, asthma and hay fever. Psoriasis on the other hand starts later in life – usually in early 20’s, although it can start earlier. We’re also unsure of the exact cause but know that genetics (a family history), environmental factors (such as smoking and stress) and immune factors play a role. Psoriasis can also involve the joints leading to a chronic destructive arthritis.

So can you tell the 2 apart by what they look like? Yes!

Eczema lesions are flat, red, dry, flaky and rough. Mainly found in the body folds and creases of the forearm, behind the knees, buttocks, thighs and face. The skin itches tremendously which leads to a vicious “scratch – itch- cycle” until the skin become thickened and can look almost like elephant skin!

Psoriatic skin lesions start as small red raised circles which become bigger and develop a silvery scale. The spots do not join together and can be found all over the body- mainly the trunk, elbows, knees and scalp. It can also involve the nails (which become pitted) as well as the eyes.

How to treat it

Treatment of the 2 conditions is similar in that it includes moisturisers, avoiding soaps and scented products that will irritate the skin, using topical steroid creams and ointments as well as antihistamines. Psoriasis treatment tends to be a bit more complicated and may also include sunlight exposure and more specialised medications. Eczema tends to improve with age and patients will often go on to develop hay fever or asthma; whereas psoriasis follows a chronic course of remissions and flares and seldom goes always completely. Approximately 10 % of patients go on to develop arthritis which can be severe.

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If you think you may have one of these skin conditions, best to chat to your doctor about appropriate treatment.

Written by Dr Lynelle Hoeks.