Is it Psoriasis or Eczema?

April 19, 2017

Is it Psoriasis or Eczema?

Is it Psoriasis or Eczema?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that accelerates the growth of skin cells, which causes rash like symptoms such as dry or itchy skin.  Bumps and lesions may also be present anywhere on the body and it may be misdiagnosed as dermatitis or eczema.

Conditions relating to the skin such as dry skin, dandruff, rashes, eczema, and fungal infections may look like psoriasis. They may not be psoriasis, so it is important to identify the condition correctly and then get the treatment that addresses the problem.

Psoriasis is one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the world and several millions of people in the U.S. are affected.  Many people who suffer from it do not know what it is? 

How does psoriasis appear on your body and how do you make the distinction between other skin conditions. There are several types of psoriasis that exhibit different characteristics:

  • Psoriasis Vulgaris (plaque psoriasis).The most common form of the disease that accounts for, on average, nearly 85% of cases. It causes regular, distinct, inflamed, bright red, raised blotches, or plaques that are covered with silvery platelets. These platelets can appear on any part of the body but typically they will present themselves on elbows, knees, shins, lower back and the belly button.
  • Guttate psoriasis is a type of psoriasis that shows up on your skin as red, scaly, small, teardrop-shaped spots.  It usually occurs in young children or in early adult years.  It accounts for about 10% of the population who suffer from psoriasis.
  • Inverse psoriasis.This is a type of psoriasis that typically appears in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, and in skin folds around the genitals and buttocks.  Inverse psoriasis is so named because it's most common in areas usually spared by the more common plaque-like psoriasis. The affected patches are usually very red but lack scales. It is particularly subject to irritation from rubbing and sweating because of its location in skin folds and tender areas. It usually lacks the scale associated with plaque psoriasis due to the moist environment.
  • Pustular psoriasis. In pustular psoriasis, small white or yellow blisters or pustules appear on the top of very red skin. The pus is composed of white blood cells. On darker skin, instead of red patches, the patches are darker in colour.  The exact cause of pustular psoriasis is not known, but in some cases it is believed to be due to gene mutations. It is thought to be hereditary and it tends to run in families.

Factors that can trigger pustular psoriasis include:  Internal medications, Irritating topical agents, Overexposure to ultraviolet light, Pregnancy, Systemic steroids, Infections, Emotional stress, Sudden withdrawal of systemic medications or potent topical steroids, Skin injuries.

  • Erythrodermic psoriasis.This version of Erythrodermic psoriasis is a very rare type of psoriasis.  It only affects about three of people with psoriasis, but it can be very serious. It typically occurs in people with unstable plaque psoriasis.  It can cause your skin to lose its ability to control your body temperature and protect against infections.  Losing the ability to perform these vital functions can be life-threatening.  The main symptom of Erythrodermic psoriasis is a deep red rash that forms all over the body.  Other symptoms include: shedding of the skin in sheets instead of smaller scales, burned looking skin, increased heart rate, severe pain and itching, fluctuating body temperature, especially on hot and cold days.  Not only Erythrodermic psoriasis affect the skin, it can disrupt your whole body chemistry.  It can lead to wild temperature swings in your body.  This may cause fluid retention which causes swelling, especially in the ankles. In severe cases, people can get pneumonia or have heart failure, requiring hospitalization.

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Psoriasis condition look-a-likes’

Various skin conditions might give the impression of psoriasis, but there are differences, from the shape of the borders of the affected areas to the colour and thickness of the platelets. Here are some similar-looking skin conditions: 

  • Also known as atopic dermatitis is more common than psoriasis.  It appears frequently on the back of the knee or in front of the elbow, which is a more limited area than the common forms of psoriasis.  What activates the rash also helps differentiate atopic dermatitis from psoriasis.  Eczema can be brought on by irritants such as dust, foods, or pollen.  In addition, the skin lesions of eczema can get infected with bacteria.  
  • Seborrheic dermatitis (seborrhoea) also known as seborrheic eczema, is a chronic, relapsing and usually mild dermatitis.  In infants seborrheic dermatitis is called cradle cap. Dandruff is a type of seborrheic dermatitis where inflammation is not present.  Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin disorder affecting the scalp, face, and torso. Typically, seborrheic dermatitis presents with scaly, flaky, itchy, and red skin.
  • Seborrhoea on the scalp, known as dandruff, produces fine, greasy scales and usually is distributed generally over the head.
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