Eczema and Psoriasis – A Big Difference?

Have you experienced dry and itchy skin? These are signs and symptoms that are generally associated with skin disease or chronic skin disorder (as I would preferably call it). But without deeper knowledge, this manifestation can easily be mistaken for a specific type of skin disease particularly either as psoriasis or eczema. Though this two skin condition has a lot in common, eczema highly differs from psoriasis where both exhibit unique characteristics.

Understanding Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic or long lasting condition that affects the life cycle of skin cells which causes rapid build-up in the skin’s surface. In effect, this forms red patches on the skin that is covered with silvery scales, dry-cracked skin that may sometimes bleed. There are cases where  psoriasis can cause the swelling of joints and the thickening of the nails . Patient’s with this skin condition  can experience mild pain that may flare up once in a while which can lead to a debilitating pain and disfiguration of the skin .

There is no cure for psoriasis but there are ways to manage the condition. Typically the primary goal for a person with psoriasis is the treatment of its symptoms. It usually appears during adolescent at the age of 20 to 50 years old and tends to be concentrated at the back of the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, hands and feet.

pink by mysiana, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by Mysl Ann

Unlike eczema, the affected part of psoriasis cannot be naturally infected with bacteria, but it can become infected when the infected part is frequently scratched or rubbed.

Understanding Eczema

Eczema, on the other hand, is a skin condition triggered by many factors causing the inflammation of the skin. It causes the  skin to become dry, red and itchy . In most cases, eczema is triggered during the infancy stage and most outgrow it before reaching adulthood.

PC150035 by Urijamjari, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by Shawn – Eczema on Face of Baby (check my bio for a similar pic of myself)

Some cases are being recorded to occur in elderly as the natural drying of the skin can trigger the onset and flare ups.  Regardless of age, it is important to moisturize as dryness can lead to more itching. As an eczema sufferer, I cannot emphasize enough how many moisturizers don’t do much justice in delivery moisture. There are currently better moisturizers with ceramides (check out my top picks) in the market that greatly improves skin texture and condition.


  • Compared to psoriasis, eczema prefers to occur in the folds of the arms and legs.
  • For infants, eczema usually flares out on the face particularly on the cheek part.
  • Eczema runs in the family and it has been found out that hereditary genes can trigger a flare-up or causes the skin to be extra sensitive. This means it could skip a generation and there is a chance that one out of two siblings will get it (I am a perfect example where no one else in my family has no skin problems).

Aside from being hereditary, it can also be caused and  triggered by stress, heat, sweat, drastic climate change and contact with irritating substances or allergens . What makes eczema further dangerous is that the inflamed skin can easily be infected with bacteria, specifically the Staphylococcus strain which causes the infected part to become sticky or weepy with a honey colored ooze. This leads to a wet-eczema stage, where it becomes real difficult to treat. Similarly to psoriasis, there is no cure for eczema yet BUT again it can be manage through lifestyle change once one understands the triggers.

Diagnosis from a Professional

At the end of the day, although psoriasis and eczema are both classified as a skin condition, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from each other. With this, having the right diagnosis is very important as it has a particularly way of treatment. In short, the medicines used in treating eczema may not work with psoriasis and vice versa. You will often see creams in stores that claims to treat both skin conditions or separately. Though you can easily spot the signs and symptoms, it is still best to see your dermatologist for a correct diagnosis and corresponding treatment.

Maintenance and Help?

To shed some light on both of these skin conditions, a change in lifestyle can tremendously help manage or prevent the symptoms from occurring. Some good examples are using the right skin products, avoiding allergens, showering at least once a day (to keep optimal skin health) for a limited time, eating healthy and being more physically active (NO more smoking or drinking sodas).  You can read more on skin care tips for dry skin and Eczema in my article here.

Also receiving enough vitamin D’s (better from direct sunlight) has proven to be vital for skin immunity and overall health.  For my next article, I will discuss the effects of phototherapy, an often misunderstood and debatable subject.  A combination of these factors will greatly alleviate both skin conditions including emotional stress of pain and scratching along with a boost of confidence.

I grew up with a mild to severe case of Eczema. I'm all about skin care tips, good eating, skin cream reviews, and healthy & positive living!