Which Is It: Psoriasis or Eczema?

May 7th 2016


Psoriasis and eczema sometimes occur in the same locations. They can both occur anywhere, and often affect the face, scalp and neck. However, some minor differences can give you clues. Psoriasis often occurs on thick, tough skin. The backs of your elbows and fronts of the knees are common locations, as are the bottoms of feet. Eczema, on the other hand, tends to prefer moist, soft skin. It often occurs in places where skin creases and folds, such as around the ankle or on the backs of the knees.


Eczema and psoriasis can both present themselves in multiple ways, especially in the form of dry, flaky skin. However, psoriasis is typically characterized by dry skin, with oozing or bleeding coming from cracks or breaks in the skin. It also commonly includes a buildup of dead skin cells that gives the sore a white, plaque-like appearance. Eczema is typically moist at first, with dry eczema occurring later if it turns into a chronic condition. It may look like a sudden outbreak of pus-filled pimples or oozing sores.


Although both conditions can appear at any age, eczema typically occurs in children and infants. It can first occur during childhood and persist into adulthood, or you may outgrow it as you age. Psoriasis ordinarily occurs in adults, and may only become a problem after you experience another disease. It is sometimes linked with diabetes, immune system disorders and infections.


When the rash occurs on your hands, it is generally a telltale sign more indicative of psoriasis. This is a distinctive type of pitting in the fingernails, especially when the rash does not extend to the cuticle. Eczema, fungus, and other infections or injuries, however, can also cause changes in the fingernail, making it difficult for an untrained sufferer to tell them apart.


Psoriasis and eczema are two of the most common causes of skin rashes, but they have very different origins. Eczema typically occurs as a reaction to outside allergens, while the causes of psoriasis are less well-known. The treatments for the two conditions can vary as well, so knowing which one you have is important. Although learning more about the conditions can give you an idea of which disorder you may be suffering from, it is important to see a dermatologist to know for sure.

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