Eczema vs Psoriasis: What’s The Difference?

Eczema and psoriasis are both autoimmune skin inflammations that produce itchy, red rashes. They may appear similar on certain areas of the body, but differ in symptoms. Here are some key factors to help you distinguish between Eczema vs Psoriasis, the two skin disorders and how to treat them.

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Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, usually emerges during childhood. Psoriasis is more likely to occur during the teen years. Both conditions can manifest in adulthood due to an autoimmune skin reaction. For example, contact with sweat or particles in the air can trigger these red rashes in a manner similar to an allergic reaction.



Both eczema and psoriasis commonly appear on the hands, feet, and neck. However, eczema prefers the inner arms, knee backs and calves, while psoriasis more often resides around the elbows and knee fronts. Chronic eczema can also spread to the upper thighs and ankles. Although uncommon, both conditions may appear on the face, scalp and sensitive areas like folds of skin and genitalia.

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Eczema, especially ruptured lesions, often appear as a moist, oozing rash. The rash may crust over and peel off like a patch of sunburned skin. Severe cases can result in bleeding, infection, and spreading to other areas of the body. In contrast, psoriasis inflammations are usually thick, dry, and scaly. These scales often start as small bumps, but grow to become larger than eczema rashes. Psoriasis rashes can eventually sprout white scales due to overproduction of skin cells.



In addition to chronic itching, both eczema and psoriasis can cause pain, especially if prominent on the hands and feet. Scratching eczema lesions can cause them to bleed, pus and affect other areas of the body. Taking hot showers or using soaps can further aggravate eczema, especially in the winter months. If bleeding or peeling occurs, it’s important to disinfect the affected areas with antibiotic creams to prevent further complications.

Psoriasis also has the potential to spread, forming wide red patches that resemble burns in both appearance and sensation. About half of psoriasis sufferers will experience rashes on the neck, ears and facial regions. Severe cases may require emergency treatment.

A big difference when comparing eczema versus psoriasis is that eczema tends to break open or erupt, while psoriasis tends to shed scales and crust over. Psoriasis can also bleed, but it’s unlikely that eczema will develop scales.



Over-the-counter creams and ointments can mitigate the symptoms of both eczema and psoriasis. Hydrocortisone skin cream has been shown to reduce itchiness, but must be reapplied daily and isn’t a long term treatment. If your baby develops eczema, try switching diaper brands or baby cream. Adults who develop eczema can try changing detergents and fabrics. Your dermatologist can prescribe pills, UV light boxes, corticosteroid creams and specialty ointments to treat both conditions. For severe cases of psoriasis, anti-inflammatory injections may be necessary. Severe eczema may require oral medications. A doctor may start you on a corticosteroid treatment, then switch to a lighter treatment as symptoms lessen. Always follow your doctor’s instructions and use only the medications prescribed for you.

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    License: Image author owned

+Dr.Cheryl Lee is a dermatologist who has dedicated her career to research and treatment of skin ailments. She writes regularly at her blog

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