How to Tell the Difference Between Eczema and Psoriasis

Reviewed: April 16, 2016
By eHealthIQ

If you suddenly develop an unpleasant, itchy skin condition characterized by red patches, diagnosing it is the first step to finding a treatment. However, it can be a little tricky to tell the difference between psoriasis and eczema, two of the most common skin conditions. You can just look at eczema and psoriasis pictures and symptoms, but there are other ways to tell the two skin conditions apart. Pay attention to these details to figure out which one you have.

Age of First Outbreak
Both skin conditions can technically happen to anyone at any time, but they are common among more demographics. Eczema is more likely to occur among young children, and adults with eczema usually have less severe cases. In contrast, psoriasis happens most often in people between the ages of 15 and 30. Sometimes, it can also spontaneously develop in seniors.

Affected Areas
Eczema most commonly occurs in areas of the skin that are frequently bent or otherwise chafed. Therefore, areas like the neck, wrists, inner edge of the elbows, ankles, and backs of the knees are all extremely likely to develop eczema if you have the condition. Like eczema, psoriasis can also show up anywhere on the skin, but it mostly happens in areas with thickened skin, including the soles of feet, palms, scalp, backs of elbows, and the back. Unlike eczema, psoriasis may also affect the nails, making them brittle and pitted.

The Appearance of the Rash
Both rashes often look reddish at first, but they begin to develop different. As you can see by looking at images of eczema, the skin starts to look dry and cracked. It can then turn into fluid-filled blisters that weep fluid and itch. Since psoriasis is caused by an overgrowth of skin cells, it often results in thick white patches that look scaly and silvery. These are often visible in psoriasis pictures and other symptoms include thickened red lesions.

Triggers of Outbreaks
Both skin conditions may lie dormant for a while before being triggered by an environmental factor. People with psoriasis most often experience flare-ups after they experience stress or illness, scratch or sunburn their skin, or start taking medications like lithium. People with eczema are more likely to experience symptoms after coming in contact with irritants in soaps, wool fabric, airborne allergens, cold air, or stress.

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