What’s the Difference Between Psoriasis and Eczema?

If you’re suffering from red, itchy, blotchy skin, you may be wondering whether it’s psoriasis or eczema. Both conditions share similar characteristics, but they’re still very different in nature. Let’s take a closer look at the major difference between psoriasis and eczema.

Psoriasis And Eczema Differences

At first glance, it may be hard to tell the difference between psoriasis and eczema. However, there are unique characteristics of both conditions that can help distinguish between the two.

They Have Different Causes

Psoriasis and eczema have different causes.

  • Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, which means that it’s caused by an overactive immune system. Doctors still don’t know what causes the immune system to behave this way. Those with psoriasis shed skin cells at a much quicker rate than normal. As dead skin cells build up, they cause psoriasis plaques.
  • Eczema is a skin condition that’s caused by certain triggers. These triggers cause inflammation in the body and the immune system to overreact. Eczema can be triggered by a variety of things, from allergies to stress, cold weather and even fragrances.

Psoriasis may also be triggered by many of the same things that trigger eczema, but injuries and medications can also cause flare-ups. In addition, many people with psoriasis are sensitive to heat, and their symptoms may get worse in the summer.

Their Appearance is Different

Both psoriasis and eczema can make your skin red and inflamed. However, if you look closely, you’ll notice differences in their appearances.

  • Psoriasis causes red patches that may be scaly and raised. The skin looks silvery, thicker and very inflamed in some cases.
  • Eczema can also cause red, scaly patches, but you may also notice oozing or crusting. Swelling can occur, and the skin may look leathery in some patches.

Eczema may be more splotchy than psoriasis, which tends to develop in patches.

They Feel Different

Along with differences in appearance, psoriasis and eczema also feel different. Both conditions can cause severe itching, but:

  • Psoriasis may also cause burning and stinging sensations
  • Eczema’s itchiness can be so severe that you scratch hard enough to bleed

Many people with psoriasis compare the burning sensation to being stung by a bee or fire ant. However, most people with eczema only experience intense itching.

They Appear at Different Life Stages

Psoriasis and eczema typically appear at different stages in life.

  • Eczema typically develops at a very young age. It's not as common for adults to develop eczema, although it is possible. When it develops later in life, it’s typically linked to an underlying medical condition, such as hormonal changes, thyroid issues or stress.
  • Psoriasis appears later in life, around age 15-35. It can develop at other ages, but it’s most common for symptoms to appear sometime between adolescence and middle age. Babies rarely develop psoriasis.

Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, but generally, these conditions develop at different ages.

Final Thoughts

Although similar in some ways, psoriasis and eczema are two different conditions with different causes and symptoms. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, while eczema is the result of a trigger that causes inflammation.

Both conditions can be managed with the right treatment protocol, lifestyle changes and products.

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