In this blog, we are going to talk about the difference between eczema and psoriasis.
According to statistics, approximately 35 million Americans suffer from eczema. With 1-3% of those people being adults, and 10-20% being children.
Also, 8 million Americans have psoriasis. However, 125 million people worldwide suffer from psoriasis. That means roughly 2-3% of the entire population have psoriasis.
Know the Difference Between Eczema and Psoriasis
Eczema and psoriasis both affect the skin.
They cause rashes, itching and have other overlapping symptoms. Some people suffer from both conditions. Unfortunately, neither condition has a cure.
However, medical professionals consider eczema an inflammatory disease. Psoriasis is an immune system disorder.
Psoriasis plaques appear thicker and have dry scaling. In contrast, some forms of eczema cause leaking fluid.
If dermatologists cannot make a diagnosis based on the location and symptoms, they may perform a biopsy.
Filaggrin and Eczema
Eczema causes skin inflammation. Genetics, stress, and irritants play roles. Triggers come from inside or outside the affected person’s body.
Healthy skin needs filaggrin—a protein that creates a protective barrier on the skin’s top layer. Doctors believe eczema patients have a genetic mutation because they cannot create enough of this protein.
The lack of filaggrin weakness the skin’s barrier, so it cannot retain enough moisture. The compromised barrier makes eczema-prone skin susceptible to bad bacteria and viruses.
The risk of infection, along with the inability to effectively hydrate skin, results in extremely dry and itchy skin.
Types of Eczema
October is National Eczema Awareness Month. Even if you lack a diagnosis, learning about the types of eczema will help you manage your symptoms.
The different types of eczema include:
Atopic dermatitis – if your primary care physician, allergist or dermatologist mentions atopic dermatitis, you have eczema – the most common form. Atopic dermatitis affects over 16 million people in the United States. To come to this conclusion, a physician looks at the following:
- Atopic triad – this means patients have two other allergy-related conditions associated with atopic dermatitis. The most common ones include asthma or allergic rhinitis, known as hay fever.
- Genetics – a genetic link exists. That does not automatically mean all family members have atopic dermatitis. It means immediate family members likely have asthma and allergies.
- Age – while atopic dermatitis often affects babies, toddlers, and children, this is not always the case. When diagnosed as a child, this type of eczema usually improves over time. Babies often develop eczema on their scalps and cheeks, but it may form anywhere. Adults often develop atopic dermatitis on their arms, hands, elbows, the back of the knees and neck.
- Response to irritants and pollutants – environmental triggers and pollutants also contribute to atopic eczema.
- Symptoms beyond dry skin – Along with dry skin, patients may develop red or brownish-gray spots. These may appear on the skin’s surface or underneath. When severe, the bumps may leak fluid. Sufferers often experience intense bouts of itching.
Contact dermatitis – rashes occur from coming into contact with a reactive substance. This too is another form of eczema. Dermatologists usually cannot pinpoint the exact cause. However, common triggers include:
- Fragrance in detergents and dryer sheets
- A latex or rubber allergy
- Nickel or other metals in jewelry
- Irritants in makeup and skincare products, especially anti-aging ones
Dyshidrotic eczema – women develop this type more than men. Allergies, genetics, dampness in the hands and feet, stress and certain elements like cobalt and chromium salt contribute to this type. Symptoms include:
- Painful blisters lasting around two to four weeks. They usually appear on the hands or feet. The affected area may crack, scale or flake. Dyshidrotic eczema blisters appear thicker than normal ones.
- Allergies and asthma – you may have atopic dermatitis or the associated allergies with this type of eczema.
Hand eczema – this occurs when hands become exposed to irritants found in items like cleaning supplies, hair care products. This condition can also be caused by scented laundry detergents.
- Localized red, dry and itchy skin on your hands.
- Hands that blister or crack.
Neurodermatitis (lichen simplex chronicus) – like atopic dermatitis, this form causes itchy and thick or scaly skin patches. Patients with another form of eczema or psoriasis are more likely to develop neurodermatitis. Limit scratching to minimize bleeding. This will also lower your risk of infection.
Nummular dermatitis – this eczema type is easier to identify. Bug bites and allergic reactions to metals or chemicals typically cause this. Nummular means coin in Latin. So look for round, itchy and scaly coin-shaped spots.
Stasis dermatitis – weak veins and poor circulation prevent blood from properly reaching the body’s lower limbs like the legs and feet. Stasis dermatitis causes:
- Leaking fluid in the affected area, redness, and itching.
- Swelling in the legs, which makes them feel heavy.
Varicose veins – some people develop these thick, rope-like veins, usually found on the back of the legs. The skin may look dry over the affected veins and sores may develop.
Seborrheic dermatitis – This is also called seborrheic eczema. It affects the scalp and causes yellow or white scales over the irritated skin. The affected skin also looks greasy. Other symptoms include:
- Dandruff – these common skin flakes attach to hair shafts.
- Itching – this side effect may occur in some people.
Psoriasis and the Immune System
Psoriasis and eczema both cause skin-related side effects. However, the main difference between eczema and psoriasis is that psoriasis is classified as a disease of the immune system. A person’s immune system builds too many cells. The affected immune system attacks healthy cells because it believes the inflicted person has an infection. As a reaction, new cells develop too fast. That rapid cell turnover causes thick skin patches.
Types of Psoriasis
A physician makes a diagnosis based on the skin’s appearance and other contributing factors like a chronic illness. The amount of skin damage does not determine the severity. Instead, the location and how your body responds results in a diagnosis of mild, moderate or severe psoriasis.
Psoriasis types include:
Plaque psoriasis – this is the most common form. It accounts for at least 80% of diagnoses. Raised, inflamed lesions look scaly or silver-like in appearance. This type usually affects the knees, scalp, elbows, back, nails, hands, legs, breasts or genitals. Additionally, dermatologists assess:
- The role of your genetics and overall stress levels.
- Non-related skin infections like strep throat as psoriasis stems from an immune disorder.
- The degree of skin damage caused by cuts, bug bites or sunburn
Gurrate psoriasis – bacterial infections cause this to occur during childhood or as a young adult. Some people develop this once while others have continuous outbreaks. Symptoms include:
- Small pink spots usually develop on the torso, legs, arms or scalp.
- Thinner lesions with a finer scale covering the affected area.
Pustular psoriasis – this uncommon form usually affects adults. It causes yellow blisters. Like other forms, bacterial infections may cause pustular psoriasis. The two types include:
- Localized – this kind results in patches on the feet, hands or fingertips
- Generalized – this type causes widespread patches all over affected skin.
Inverse or intertriginous psoriasis – bright red smooth-like lesions appear in a body’s skin folds. This may include the groin, armpits or underneath the breasts. Sweat, friction and fungal infections often trigger inverse psoriasis.
Erythrodermic psoriasis – this is the least common form, but physicians classify this type as severe. Symptoms include:
- Widespread red rashes that peel or flake
- Itching, burning and stinging
Psoriatic arthritis – this type causes inflamed or scaly skin. It affects joints like other forms of arthritis. While less painful, it still damages joints and causes stiffness.
Scalp psoriasis – while often confused with seborrheic dermatitis, scalp psoriasis has a powder-like appearance. The surface looks silver. Also, note the following:
- Scalp psoriasis affects more than a person’s hairline. People often have psoriasis on their elbows, feet, hands or knees. These areas may itch too.
- Sufferers may notice their nails change. Nail pitting is a sign of scalp psoriasis.
Develop a Treatment Plan and Skincare Routine
Let us help you develop a treatment plan and skincare routine to minimize symptoms and control flare-ups.
While no cure exists for eczema and psoriasis, locking in moisture and avoiding triggers help treat the symptoms. You may be interested in taking a look at some of our skincare products.