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Psoriasis and Eczema Difference: How to Tell The Difference

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 25, 2022

    Psoriasis and Eczema Difference: How to Tell The Difference

    You have been itching and scratching the whole day and yet you can’t tell what it is. These rashes could either go the psoriasis or the eczema route. These are two common skin diseases that can often seem interchangeable, as they may look the same at first glance. But, how can you identify the aspects of psoriasis and eczema difference? This article discusses its similarities and differences to help lead you to the best treatment.

    What is Psoriasis?

    Psoriasis refers to an autoimmune skin condition with a hereditary component that causes skin cells to develop at an abnormally fast rate. It causes the formation of scaly, red skin lesions that may burn or itch.

    There are many different types of psoriasis depending on what part of the body it occurs in, as well as its size and shape. One common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis that is normally found on the elbows and knees but can also appear elsewhere.

    What is Eczema?

    Similar to psoriasis, eczema is characterized by inflammation of areas of the skin. This skin disorder has an immunological component. It develops frequently in connection with primary immunodeficiency diseases that are common in children. 

    Scratching, as well as other irritants and environmental circumstances, can intensify the illness. 

    Some may also refer to this as atopic dermatitis. 

    Psoriasis and Eczema Difference, Explained

    An important thing to take note of is that neither of these two skin conditions is communicable.

    However, they may lead to other infections if not treated well. Thus, it is important to identify what type of condition is causing the redness and itchiness on the different parts of the body.

    Eczema causes inflammation and redness, but it can also create dry, itchy areas of skin that drip clear fluid and form a crust.

    Meanwhile, psoriasis causes red spots that are usually elevated and appear silvery or scaly. 

    People with psoriasis may have mild itching alongside occasional stinging sensations. Whereas eczema symptoms often fall into the extreme category, causing severe itching. Because of this intense itching, some people may end up scratching their skin raw, causing bleeding or further irritation. 

    Psoriasis and Eczema Difference: What Causes What?

    According to Dr. Jeffey Millstein, a physician from Penn Internal Medicine Woodbury Heights, the most significant distinction between the two lies in terms of its fundamental causes

    An autoimmune disease such as psoriasis implies that the problem originates from the inside – the immune system.

    As a result, skin cells multiply on an abnormal scale, which begins to pile up on the surface and generates white scales. But, eczema is more complicated than a domestic build-up. The rashes could be triggered by different factors like genetics or the environment, which is why you may find it too difficult to pinpoint the root cause. 

    Another consideration in psoriasis and eczema difference is the reactivity to sunlight. For those who have eczema, their skin can get more sensitive to sunlight. On the other hand, exposure to UV radiation helps slow down the development of psoriasis. 

    Exploring Different Treatment Options

    Eczema and psoriasis are both chronic diseases that need long-term care. The intensity of the symptoms, as well as the size and location of the affected patch of skin, may influence treatment. 

    Some common treatments include:

    • Topical anti-inflammatory creams (such as corticosteroids)
    • Moisturizing skin lotions
    • Phototherapy
    • Biologic or systemic medications 

    Aside from these treatments, staying away from things that could trigger your skin to react differently should also be considered.  

    Key Takeaways

    Psoriasis and eczema can both cause dry skin, rashes, and itching. However, because the symptoms frequently overlap and coincide even in the places where they develop, they can be difficult to identify and distinguish from one another. 

    The first step to defining psoriasis and eczema difference is through seeking medical assistance. Consult a dermatologist when the itch persists for several days. They can help you detect the said difference based on its feel and appearance, the severity of the itch, and where it appears on the skin.  

    Learn more about skin health here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Martha Juco, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 25, 2022

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