Eczema or Psoriasis? How Can I Tell Which I Have?

Pure Dermatology
June 7, 2023

Eczema and psoriasis cause similar symptoms, but they definitely require different types of treatments to relieve discomfort and improve your skin health. Here’s how these common skin conditions differ and how we can help you manage both.

Eczema and psoriasis are common skin problems, affecting millions of Americans. But while these conditions cause similar symptoms, they differ in lots of important ways, including their treatment.  

As leading dermatologists serving southwest Austin, Texas, Christopher Chu, MD, FAAD, and Chelsey Straight, MD, FAAD, have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating eczema and psoriasis, helping patients relieve symptoms and improve their skin health, too. Here, we cover these two common skin conditions, including how we treat them at Pure Dermatology.

Quick facts about eczema

Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is an inflammatory condition that causes red, scaly, itchy patches of skin. These patches can appear anywhere, but they’re more common in the folds of your skin. Often sore and tender, these patches can bleed and weep when you scratch them or rub them.

While researchers don’t know for sure what causes eczema, they do know it tends to run in families. It's also more common among people who have allergies or asthma.

Eczema symptoms tend to become worse following exposure to triggers like:

  • Hot or cold temperatures
  • Harsh skin care products or detergents
  • Cosmetics
  • Allergens
  • Scratchy or itchy clothing

Hormonal changes and stress or anxiety can also cause your symptoms to flare.

While eczema can develop anytime, it usually begins in childhood, often recurring during the adult years.

Quick facts about psoriasis

Psoriasis is caused by an immune system problem. Specifically, an overactive immune reaction causes your skin cells to grow and shed faster than usual. As the cells grow, they rapidly migrate to the surface of your skin, creating thick, red, scaly patches — or plaques — that may feel itchy or sore.

Psoriasis plaques can appear pink, white, or silver in color. Scratching or rubbing plaques often results in more irritation and may cause weeping, crusting, and sometimes bleeding.

As with eczema, psoriasis plaques can appear anywhere, but they tend to be more common on your scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back. While psoriasis can begin in childhood, it usually develops during the adult years.

Psoriasis flare-ups are also associated with triggers, such as a skin injury or an infection. Some people with psoriasis also develop sore joints, a complication called psoriatic arthritis.

Treating eczema and psoriasis

Our team knows that individualized therapy is the key to managing eczema and psoriasis. Before prescribing any treatment, we perform a thorough skin exam and review your symptoms, your medical history, and other factors that could be playing a role in your skin health.

Most people with eczema and psoriasis benefit from a combination of medical therapy and lifestyle changes to avoid triggers, reduce irritation, and maintain skin health. Oral medications, prescription creams or ointments, and light therapy often help manage symptoms and reduce discomfort.

For severe psoriasis, we may recommend special medications that help modulate your body’s immune responses.

With both conditions, what you put on your skin can make a big difference in your symptoms. Our team can recommend skin care products that support your skin health without causing more irritation.

Give your skin the love it deserves

Eczema and psoriasis aren’t contagious, but they can definitely affect the way your skin looks and the way you feel about your appearance. Our team can develop a treatment plan based on your skin’s unique needs so you can look and feel your best.

To learn more about solutions for eczema or psoriasis, call 512-766-2610 or book an appointment online with the skin experts at Pure Dermatology today.