Eczema and psoriasis are two very different skin conditions; however, many do not know how to tell the difference between the two or about their varieties. In this edition of Skin Health 101, we will discuss the varying difference of eczema and psoriasis and common treatments.
The term eczema commonly implies dry, sensitive, itchy skin and is used for many chronic skin conditions. Eczema may be described by its appearance, cause or location. Common types of eczema include:
• Atopic – typically inherited, often related to asthma and allergies. Usually, starts in infants or childhood.
• Contact – generally related to contact with allergic substances or an irritant. Can generally be cured with avoidance, if possible.
• Xerotic/Asteatotic – eczema from dry skin, usually worse in winter and in older individuals.
• Seborrheic – generally on the scalp, face or ears and consists of red, scaly skin that is sometimes itchy (similar to dandruff or cradle cap)
• Dyshidrosis – generally on hands and feet, consists of small clear bumps, usually itchy and then dries out and cracks.
• Nummular (Discoid) – round, “coin-shaped”, red, dry patches. Often itchy and commonly on the lower legs
• Venous (Stasis) – associated with leg swelling and varicose veins, affects the lower legs and ankles with skin darkening, scaling, itching and can form ulcers
• Neurodermatitis (LSC) – itchy, thickened patch of skin that results from repeated scratching of rubbing of the skin
Diagnosing eczema is done with an office visit. Our providers will evaluate lifestyle habits, allergies, family history, medication use, and chemical exposure. If a specific irritant or allergen is suspected, we will conduct a patch test. During this process, a small patch is placed on the back for a 48-hour period. These patches will then be removed and evaluated.
Common treatments include: prescription moisturizers and medicated topical cream, lotions, etc., anti-itch topical and oral medications, and in more severe cases light treatments/Phototherapy.
Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition and is not contagious. In its most common form, it consists of red, scaly patches that commonly affects the elbows, knees, and scalp, but can occur anywhere on the skin. Like eczema, psoriasis has various types, which include:
• Plaque – most common form, 80-90% of patients with psoriasis
• Inverse – smooth, red, inflamed areas, often confused with “fungus”; usually affects the skin folds such as the underarms, under the breasts, genitals, and buttocks
• Guttate – multiple pink, scaly, round patches; presentation is often sudden in onset and commonly associated with a strep infection
• Pustular – raised red pus-filled bumps; can be localized to the hands, feet or both, or rarely affect the entire body
• Nail – can cause yellowing, pitting, lifting, thickening or crumbling of the nail
Treatment is based on the type of psoriasis, its location, severity, the patient’s age, health, lifestyle, etc. Common treatments include topicals, oral/systemic, and phototherapy.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 512.379.6090 or book any appointment online so one of our providers can evaluate the areas of concern. Stay tuned to Skin Health 101 all of September for Skin Care Awareness tips.