An Australian study found that children who had psoriasis were initially diagnosed by their physician as having another disease (often eczema).1 These two skin disorders are similar, but they have key differences. It is important to know which condition you have so that you can come up with a viable treatment plan.
Similarities of Eczema and Psoriasis
Both psoriasis and eczema are chronic skin diseases that are genetic in nature, and although these skin disorders can look scary, they are not contagious. In both ailments, there are times when your skin gets worse (flare-ups) and periods when it improves (remission).
The two conditions share some common triggers like stress, cold or dry weather, as well as foods like dairy and gluten products. Most of their symptoms are similar as well:2,3
|Red to brownish-gray rashes on the skin
||Red patches of skin covered by silvery scales
|Small papules or blisters that may ooze and crust
||Small scaling spots (usually seen in children)
|Dry, cracked, thickened and/or scaly skin
||Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
|Moderate to severe itching
||Itching, burning or soreness
|Sensitive, inflamed skin from scratching or rubbing
||Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
|Swollen and stiff joints
While these two skin diseases share common characteristics, there are vital factors that distinguish them from each other, such as where the symptoms are felt, when they manifest, and what triggers the condition.
Key Differences Between Eczema and Psoriasis
Eczema is a more prevalent condition, with approximately 31.6 million Americans suffering from it,4 as compared to 7.5 million Americans who are living with psoriasis.5 One of the primary differences of the two skin disorders is their onset. Eczema typically starts in infancy or childhood, with the symptoms becoming less severe as the child grows older.6 In contrast, psoriasis usually begins between the ages of 16 and 22.7 However, both of these ailments can also start later on in life.
The symptoms of eczema tend to appear in the crooks of the knees and elbows, while areas like the scalp, elbows, knees and face are often affected in people with psoriasis. Another major difference is that psoriasis causes thicker patches of skin with overlying redness,8 typically covered in silvery scales.
Both Diseases Start With Your Immune System
In psoriasis, you have an over-reactive immune system that affects a type of white blood cells (T-cells) that helps protect your body from infection and disease. T cells are put into action by mistake, causing other immune responses, specifically inflammation and rapid skin cell turnover. Hence, your body produces skin cells that it doesn’t need at a very fast rate. Your body doesn’t have enough time to shed these cells, and this is why patches of dry, itchy, dead and inflamed skin, called plaques, develop.9
On the other hand, eczema occurs because of a hypersensitivity reaction that causes your skin to overreact to certain triggers or conditions. It is also caused by a defect in the immune system, but in a different way than psoriasis. According to Dr. Todd A. Hoover, “In reality, eczema is technically not truly a ‘skin disease.’ Eczema is predominantly an immune system disorder characterized by over-reaction of an allergic nature.”10
These Two Conditions Are Manageable
Whether you have psoriasis or eczema, it’s crucial that you identify your triggers, so you can avoid them and prevent symptoms from occurring for months or even years. Conventional treatment of your symptoms usually involves topical corticosteroid use, but this can cause a number of side effects. Therefore, natural treatments and remedies are recommended to help you control these ailments safely.