Eczema Vs. Psoriasis: What's the Difference?

You don't have to be a total skin expert to be able to know the difference between eczema and psoriasis.

To the untrained eye, discerning the differences can be tricky at first, but after reading today's blog you'll be equipped with the knowledge of the causes, symptoms, and risk factors of eczema and psoriasis and thus be better able to identify which one you may be experiencing!

Let's start by taking a look at the differences between the differing underlying causes of the two skin conditions.

Psoriasis Causes and Features:

  • Psoriasis is considered an autoimmune disease, as it’s caused by an overactive autoimmune system that speeds up cell growth and causes skin cells to shed quicker than normal
  • Dead skin cells build up on the surface of the skin, causing psoriasis plaques (“scaly skin”)

Eczema Causes and Features:

  • Eczema is a chronic skin condition that is caused by triggers that produce inflammation in the body
  • Some research suggests that eczema may be caused by a gene mutation of the gene that makes filaggrin, which is a protein that’s responsible for maintaining a protective barrier on the surface of the skin. If this protein isn’t created properly and is deficient in your body, the skin barrier will be weaker and thus allow bacteria and viruses to enter and moisture to escape, which will lead to dry skin and other symptoms of eczema

Because both of these skin conditions affect millions of people around the world, it may seem as though they can affect just about anybody; however, there are some differences between who they more commonly affect, so keep the following facts in mind about the prevalence of each condition when trying to determine which one you may be experiencing.

Psoriasis Prevalence:

  • Roughly 8 million US Americans have psoriasis
  • Tends to be more common in adults than in children, with the average age of onset being between 20-30 years of age or between 50-60 years of age

Eczema Prevalence:

  • Roughly 30 million US Americans have eczema
  • Much more common in children than in adults, with 20% of those affected being children and only 3% being adults
  • For the affected adults, it tends to be more common for females than for males

Now that we understand more regarding the background of each skin condition, let’s dive into the differences (and similarities) between the symptoms of each one.

Is it psoriasis or eczema?

Psoriasis Symptoms:

  • Itchy skin
  • Red skin
  • Scaly patches
  • Silver-colored skin
  • Bleeding
  • Skin cracks
  • Swollen joints
  • Stiff joints
  • Burning sensations
  • Thickened/ridged nails
  • Can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly shows up on the elbows, knees, and scalp

Eczema Symptoms:

  • Itchy skin
  • Red skin
  • Scaly skin
  • Dry skin
  • Bleeding
  • Leathery skin
  • Swelling
  • Crusty skin
  • Oozing skin
  • Discolored skin
  • Can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly shows up on the inside of the elbows, the back of the knees, the face, and the front of the neck

As you can see, there is some overlap in the symptoms, such as itchy, red, scaly, and bleeding skin, but there are a myriad of other symptoms that help differentiate the two skin conditions. Take a look at the lists above and observe your skin to see if you can figure out whether you have psoriasis or eczema.

The main feature to look out for when trying to diagnose psoriasis is the appearance of scaly, silver-colored skin, while the main feature to look out for when trying to diagnose eczema is the appearance of red, itchy skin. If you are still having a hard time figuring out which skin condition you may have, you may want to consult a dermatologist to get a clearer answer.

Although there is no permanent cure for psoriasis, if you’d like to learn how you can naturally reduce its symptoms, check out this blog. For reducing eczema symptoms, there are two essential methods you can try — discover what they are in this blog. Both blogs recommend using a heavy moisturizer that will also combat redness and inflammation!

While researchers have yet to find out what the specific source of these skin conditions is, there are many risk factors that contribute to the development of them. For both eczema and psoriasis, being immunocompromised, or having a reduced ability to fight off infections and other diseases, is a shared risk factor.

Being immunocompromised is a risk factor for developing for eczema and psoriasis

Beyond this, there are also several other risk factors unique to each skin condition, which we will now cover below.

Psoriasis Risk Factors:

  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Family history of psoriasis
  • Skin injuries
  • Alcohol

Eczema Risk Factors:

  • Family history of allergies, eczema, asthma, or hay fever
  • Skin infections

Much of good health comes from taking preventative measures, so as much as possible, when it comes to reducing or avoiding flare ups of these skin conditions, do your best to avoid the habits that are tied to the risk factors mentioned above. For both eczema and psoriasis, reducing stress and anxiety, avoiding food allergies, protecting the skin from injury or infection, and using soothing moisturizers and topical medications can help prevent flare ups.

For both eczema and psoriasis, reducing stress and anxiety, avoiding food allergies, protecting the skin from injury or infection, and using soothing moisturizers and topical medications can help prevent flare ups.

If you have eczema, other additional preventative measures you can take are to use a humidifier, especially in cold weather, as well as an air purifier, and avoiding scented products and laundry detergent.

We hope that, through our tips and information on the differences between eczema and psoriasis, you are better equipped to identify which one you may have and can now take the necessary steps in the right direction towards reducing the uncomfortable and painful symptoms!