Eczema and Psoriasis: The Ultimate Guide 

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Irritating skin conditions are some of the most common ailments for adults and children. Dry or itchy skin can become painful and hard to manage and in some cases can become infected, causing more issues. Eczema and psoriasis are some of the most common skin conditions, however, they can be often confused with each other, making them difficult to treat. But what is the difference between eczema and psoriasis, what causes them and what are the treatments available? Here we will be discussing everything you need to know about both skin conditions and how best to treat them. 

Eczema and Psoriasis: What’s the difference? 

Both skin conditions can often be confused with one another because they both cause dry skin, leading to red, itchy and uncomfortable patches on the body. However, both conditions have differences too. 

Eczema can cause areas of the skin to feel intensely itchy, so much so that you can scratch your skin enough to make it bleed. Eczema often shows up in places on your body that bend. For example, knees, hands, wrists or elbows. This condition usually causes your skin to become red, inflamed or scaly. It can appear rough or leathery in places and can cause swelling in certain areas. 

Psoriasis on the other hand often appears in places like the soles of your feet, scalp, face or lower back. Unfortunately, psoriasis can occur in areas like eyelids, ears and the mouth. Like eczema, it causes red itchy patches, however, psoriasis usually causes more raised and inflamed patches. The skin’s texture often looks more silvery and scaly when suffering from psoriasis. While skin irritation caused by psoriasis can be itchy, it can often be more of a stinging or burning sensation. 

What causes psoriasis? 

Psoriasis is defined as an immune-mediated disease. This means that the cause of the disease is unclear but is characterised by inflammation of the skin that is caused by a dysfunction of the immune system. Psoriasis occurs when an overactive immune system creates faster skin cell growth than the body needs. Normal skin cells regenerate and fall off the body usually within a month, whereas for people who suffer from psoriasis, their skin does this process within 4-5 days. Instead of skin cells shedding, psoriasis causes the new and older skin cells to pile up on the surface of the skin. This is what causes the bumpy and itchy patches most people experience when dealing with psoriasis. 

Psoriasis is not contagious, so it cannot be passed on from person to person. While there is no exact cause of this skin condition, experts believe that genetics and the overall immune system can play a big role in leading some people to develop psoriasis. Although there are no known causes of psoriasis, there are some triggers that can cause the condition to flare up; 

  • Stress - Although everyone can suffer from stress, sometimes being over stressed can have an impact on the immune system. Being stressed for a prolonged period can have effects on all aspects of your overall health, including causing a psoriasis flare up. 
  • Injury to the skin - Injuries like sunburn, cuts, bug bites or even vaccinations can cause the skin to overproduce skin cells, leading to a psoriasis flare up. 
  • Illness - Being ill with certain conditions can affect the immune system. Colds, ear infections or respiratory infections can all cause psoriasis to flare up 
  • Weather - Colder weather can often cause a range of skin conditions to occur, including psoriasis. This is due to less sunlight and harsher weather conditions can wreak havoc on your skin and immune system in general. 
  • Allergies - Although this is not a proven trigger for psoriasis, some experts believe that certain foods, drinks or environmental factors can cause psoriasis to flare up. Commonly, unknown allergies or intolerances to certain foods or drinks can cause the immune system to overwork, and cause psoriasis to occur. 

What causes eczema? 

There are several different types of eczema that all can have different causes and triggers that are specific to a particular form of eczema. However, most types of eczema are caused or triggered by an irritant, environment or allergies. 

Here are the different types of eczema and their particular causes; 

Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. It occurs when the skin's natural barrier is weakened, making it more sensitive to the elements. Usually, it is caused by environmental factors, dry skin or genetic factors. 

Contact dermatitis is caused usually when someone is exposed to an irritant on their skin. This then causes the skin to react and trigger eczema symptoms. There are two forms of contact dermatitis; allergic and irritant. Allergic contact dermatitis is where the skin has been exposed to something it is allergic to - such as latex or animals. Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when someone has exposed their skin to harsh chemicals or substances like bleach. 

Dyshidrotic eczema is caused by allergies, damp hands or feet. It can also occur after substance exposure to materials like nickel or cobalt. It can also be caused by stress. This type of eczema usually causes fluid-filled blisters to form on your fingers, toes, palms or soles of your feet. 

Hand eczema is usually experienced by individuals who work in cleaning, healthcare or any other profession where excessive handwashing occurs. As the name suggests, this form of eczema only appears on the hands and wrists where exposure to harsh chemicals or excessive hand washing soaps break down the skin's natural barriers, causing dry and itchy patches. 

Nummular eczema often appears different from other types of eczema. It usually looks like coin-shaped patches on the skin and can be intensely itchy. Usually, this type of eczema is triggered by an insect bite or an allergic reaction to a certain material. 

Stasis dermatitis occurs when fluid leaks from weakened veins in the skin. Often this occurs in the lower leg areas. People who suffer from blood flow issues in their legs, or those with limited movement are most likely to suffer from this form of eczema. Typically your lower legs may start to swell, often during the day after walking for some time. 

For most forms of eczema, irritants can bring on or trigger a flare-up. Soaps, clothing materials, laundry detergent or even certain types of foods can enable eczema to occur. If you are suffering from eczema, it’s best to talk to your doctor for advice. It may take time to figure out what is triggering your eczema flare-ups as these can differ between different people. 

Can you have eczema and psoriasis together? 

There is no evidence that states that you cannot have both eczema and psoriasis together. As both skin conditions are different medical issues, they have the potential to both flare up at the same time or intermittently. If you have suffered from eczema before, you’re not more likely to experience psoriasis and vice versa, however, it is possible to develop both conditions simultaneously. Both skin conditions may require different forms of treatment. If you feel that you have both psoriasis and eczema, you should contact your doctor to discuss potential medications and treatments available. 

What are the treatments for eczema and psoriasis? 

Of course, eczema and psoriasis are different skin conditions and they often have different symptoms and triggers. Although they may seem similar, eczema and psoriasis have different treatments that can be effective for alleviating individual conditions. Both eczema and psoriasis cannot be cured, but symptoms of both conditions can be alleviated and can subside with effective treatment. 

Eczema can be treated using; 

  • Emollients or moisturisers specifically aimed at eczema, psoriasis or severely dry skin. Applying these creams daily will help to prevent the skin from becoming dry and itchy. 
  • Topical corticosteroids can also be used for eczema. These are steroid creams that can be applied to the skin to reduce swelling and inflammation brought on by an eczema flare-up. 
  • Should these treatments not be sufficient, topical pimecrolimus or tacrolimus can be used for eczema in sensitive sites if the skin is not responding to other types of treatment 
  • Antihistamines (anti-allergy tablets) can help alleviate severe itching caused by eczema. 
  • If you are finding it difficult to stop itching an eczema patch, bandages or bodysuits can be worn to allow the skin to heal properly underneath. 
  • Stronger treatments can be offered by a dermatologist if other treatments have not been successful. 

Psoriasis can often be treated using similar methods and medicated creams to eczema. 

  • Topical moisturisers and creams can be helpful to treat psoriasis. If you have psoriasis on your scalp, there are specialist applications to help alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, such as Betamethasone
  • Phototherapy can be used to treat stubborn forms of psoriasis. This treatment involves exposing your skin to different types of ultraviolet lights. 
  • Systemic, also known as oral and injected forms of medications that are designed to work throughout the body. This form of treatment can be prescribed by your doctor or dermatologist if other forms of treatment have not worked. 

How can I help my eczema or psoriasis? 

If you are suffering from eczema or psoriasis, then there could be things you could do to avoid making it worse or to flare up. Here are some suggestions for how to manage your eczema and psoriasis; 

  • Avoid over scented or harsh washing detergents especially when washing your clothes 
  • Try to avoid wearing scratchy or heavy materials like wool. Stick to more breathable or cotton clothing
  • Moisturise your skin daily, focussing on your trouble areas or parts of your body that are prone to flare-ups 
  • Try to manage stress and practise daily self-care, as stress is a key contributor to developing eczema and psoriasis 
  • Avoid getting too sweaty or hot. Wear comfortable clothing that keeps your skin cool, as overheating can encourage itchy skin
  • Use unscented, natural soaps and shampoos that are specially tailored for dry or itchy skin. 
  • Pay attention to certain foods and monitor which food groups could contribute to eczema or psoriasis flare-ups. You can then try to avoid these particular foods to see if it helps prevent skin flare-ups. 

How can Pharmacy Online help? 

Dealing with uncomfortable skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can be challenging to manage. 

At Pharmacy Online, we’re on hand to offer expert advice and guidance on a variety of different treatments and moisturisers specially designed for eczema and psoriasis. Our team is available to provide helpful advice and information about different products available, helping you find the best solution for your skin. 

Once you’ve made your selection for a product, we will send your prescription directly to your home quickly and discreetly. Contact Pharmacy Online today to get started.