Differentiating Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema and psoriasis are both skin conditions that are characterized by dry, scaly skin, yet they are very different from each other. How can you tell them apart?

Skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema can look very similar to each other. After all, they both manifest as dry, red patches of skin that are scaly and inflamed. The two are very different conditions, however, and will need different courses of treatments.





Here is how they differ:


Eczema is common on the body folds like the back of the knees, elbow crease and neck. Psoriasis is common on the scalp, knees, elbows, umbilicus, and trunk.

Both are red, scaly and inflamed patches of skin, but they do have differences.  Psoriasis is characterized by silvery white scales that cover the red patches of skin. Eczema rashes are itchy while psoriatic plaques may or may not be itchy at all.

Causes and Triggers of Flare-ups 

Both eczema and psoriasis go through cycles called flare-ups. Flare-ups refer to the recurrence of rashes or skin lesions.

The two are similar in appearance, and the causes of flare-ups are somewhat similar: stress, infection and change of weather are some common triggers for both. Atopic eczema, which is the most common type of eczema, is a type of hyperreactive skin condition. Though doctors are still unsure what exactly causes eczema, affected patients typically experience flare-ups because of temperature changes, certain types of food, or exposure to certain types of detergents.

Psoriasis is also a type of hyperreactive skin condition wherein the skin cells multiply up to ten times faster than normal. As the layers of skin reach the surface and dry up, the skin is growing too fast for it to slough off naturally. What happens is that it creates raised, itchy, and inflamed patches on the skin, caused by an excessive buildup of dead skin cells.

Treatment Options

You may treat the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis with topical creams such as Mometasone Furoate (Elica®) Cream.  Emollients are a mainstay of treatment in both conditions.

More facts

Eczema is usually characterised by itching, which can sometimes be so intense that sufferers would have difficulty in sleeping.

Eczema is common in young children, and they may eventually grow out of it. However, some people get flare-ups throughout their lives.

Psoriasis is also a chronic, recurrent condition that maybe accompanied by nail and joint problems. Skin lesions of psoriasis may be managed by topical agents such as topical corticosteroids, vitamin D derivatives and emollients.  In more severe cases, light therapy (Phototherapy) and systemic medications are used.

Remember that it is always best to ask your doctor for a correct diagnosis. Your doctor has the tools and the knowledge to determine whether you or your child has eczema or psoriasis.