Telling the difference between eczema and psoriasis can be difficult. Both are often generalized by red inflamed skin and dry itchy areas, and of course both conditions are highly irritable. Dermatological treatments can be highly effective in treating even the most advanced cases.
Eczema is often characterized by red patches of skin that become itchy, swollen, and will inevitably crack when rubbed or scratched. Eczema occurs inside the elbows, behind the knees, on the feet and hands, and on the face. Sufferers may also develop crusty sores, oozy blisters, lesions and leathery patches.
Eczema has forms including contact dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, which is an allergic condition in babies and small children. Usually this condition goes away by two years of age, but can also last into adulthood. The specific cause of atopic dermatitis is still being researched, but it has been linked to environmental factors and family history.
Certain detergents, soaps, household cleaners, wool, and chlorine can all trigger eczema. Abrupt temperature changes and overwhelming stress can also be factors in a breakout.
Doctors may request a skin biopsy, blood or allergy tests to confirm whether or not you may be suffering from eczema.
Going beyond typical red patchy skin, psoriasis causes thickened, red patches of skin and silvery scales as well. These inflamed and scaly patches may burn in addition to the expected itchiness and soreness. Commonly affected areas are the elbows and knees, but nails and scalp are also vulnerable to psoriasis.
Psoriasis has many triggers like skin damage, stress, cold temperatures, and certain medications. Most common in adults, it doesn’t usually take hold until after age 10 and can become a lifelong condition.
Psoriasis can be mistaken for other skin diseases (like eczema), and is often diagnosed by close examination of the skin, nails, and scalp. Usually the best way to determine if a patient has psoriasis is by performing a biopsy, where a small skin sample is removed and viewed under a microscope.
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