Do you experience intense itching and irritation on your skin often? Are there scaly red patches too? The underlying reason can either be eczema or psoriasis.
Known to have similar characteristics, the two skin conditions are at times difficult to differentiate. However, there are factors that you can consider to easily figure out their fundamental differences.
In this article, we help you understand the differentiating factors and also tell you the best treatment to manage these skin conditions.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Skin diseases, Kushtha Rogas involve all the three doshas and 4 dushyas, Skin, Muscles, Blood and Lymph. Psoriasis is correlated to Eka kushtha while Eczema with Vicharchika.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi, (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
How To Identify Eczema And Psoriasis?
Both eczema and psoriasis are common skin conditions that affect the majority of people all over the world. Eczema is a chronic skin condition that is identified by red and itchy rashes on your skin whereas psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes thick patches on the skin that might also itch. 
Although both psoriasis and eczema have somewhat similar symptoms including rashes, red patches, itchiness and dryness, the causes of these two skin diseases are quite different from each other.
If you have any of these symptoms it is better to get diagnosed by a professional dermatologist rather than doing a self-analysis. You might not be able to differentiate between psoriasis and eczema by yourself. 
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, almost 10-30% of people who have psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis.
What Is The Difference Between Eczema And Psoriasis?
1. What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common autoimmune skin disorder that makes your skin cells multiply up to 10 times faster than usual. Due to this, dead cells on the surface of the epidermis build up causing uneven red patches and white scales to appear on various parts of your body like the scalp, elbows, knees and lower back.
Psoriasis is not contagious but it may be hereditary. Many people start being affected by psoriasis in the early years of adulthood. If your psoriasis is more severe, the rough patches can spread across a larger part of your body. These patches can heal automatically but can again reappear after some time if not treated properly. 
2. What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a chronic, inflammatory condition of the skin that causes red, dry, itchy or rough skin. Eczema affects the protective walls of your skin and disables the barrier function of your skin, making your skin more sensitive to dryness and infection. It commonly shows up in your knees, feet, hands, neck, inner elbow, etc.
Although the symptoms of eczema give an impression that your skin is dirty it has nothing to do with your hygiene and it is not contagious. There are various treatments that can help in managing the symptoms of eczema. 
Eczema affects both males and females equally and infants are more prone to developing it. As much as 10-20% of infants can have it. People who have a family history of allergies or asthma are also prone to having eczema.
Vedix Tip: Aloe vera gel can help to soothe eczema symptoms. You can either use freshly extracted aloe vera gel or use aloe vera gel products.
4. Causes of Eczema
When your immune system overreacts to an allergen or even the smallest irritants, it causes inflammation on your skin and makes it prone to infection and dryness.
People who have a history of dermatitis, asthma, allergies in their family are more likely to have eczema. Also, if your skin does not have the required amount of protein, it is more vulnerable to eczema.
The environment that you live in can also have an impact on your skin conditions. For example, those living in urban areas with high exposure to pollution, extreme weather conditions have higher chances of developing eczema. Stress tends to make your eczema symptoms worse.
Some women experience flare-ups in eczema symptoms due to hormonal changes. This is more common during pregnancy.
5. Causes of Psoriasis
Various things can trigger psoriasis. Normally, your skin cells get replaced every 10-30 days but when you have psoriasis the growth speed increases and your skin cells grow back every 3-4 days. Here are some incidents that can trigger psoriasis:
- Any kind of infection such as strep throat or skin infections.
- Extreme cold and dry weather and even sometimes extreme heat.
- A simple cut, scrape, insect bites and even sunburn can trigger psoriasis.
- Both active and passive smoking can lead to psoriasis.
- Stress is a leading cause of psoriasis.
- Medicines that are prescribed for high blood pressure sometimes lead to psoriasis.
- Withdrawal of oral or systemic corticosteroids.
6. Symptoms of Eczema
- Dry white patches on the skin
- Red rashes
- Bumpy skin
- Leathery and scaly patches on the skin
- Swelling on the patches of skin
- Often eczema is followed by allergies
- Lack of sleep is both a cause and a symptom of eczema
7. Symptoms of Psoriasis
- Patches of red skin covered with silver scales
- Itchiness on the patches of skin with bleeding cracks on them
- Discoloration and pitting of fingers and toenails
- Scaly plaques and crusts on the scalp
- Pain and swelling in the joints which is a type of arthritis that often follows psoriasis.
8. Affected Body Parts
Essentially eczema can appear anywhere on the skin. Some of the most common places where it can show up are the folded areas of the skin like inner elbows and behind the knees, lowe4 back, soles of the feet, fingernails, ears, eyelids, etc
Eczema symptoms are also visible on your hands, scalp and face. Some uncommon areas which might also be affected by eczema are breasts and genitals.
There are multiple types of psoriasis and each type affects a particular part of your body with symptoms that are mentioned above. For example, pustular psoriasis causes redness and scaly skin on your palms and soles of the feet. Guttate psoriasis, on the other hand, causes small scaling lesions on the legs, arms, trunk, etc.
Inverse psoriasis affects the folded regions of the body like the armpits, groin and breasts. Erythrodermic psoriasis covers your body with a red, itchy, parking rash.
9. Who Do They Affect?
Eczema is more common among children than adults, although adults can have it if they were not affected by it in their childhood.  The frequency of atopic dermatitis or eczema has significantly increased from 8% to 12% among children since 1997. 
Can You Treat Eczema And Psoriasis The Same Way?
Both eczema and psoriasis, in some cases, can be managed with similar treatments. Some common treatments include over-the-counter products, topical medicines, phototherapy, biologics, etc.
Both the conditions can be differently present in each person which is why individual symptoms can never be compared. It is advisable to consult your dermatologist to diagnose either of the conditions correctly and determine the right treatment.
Below are some of the most common treatments:
1. Ayurvedic Treatments
A. Vamana Therapy
In this therapy, ayurvedic experts use vamaka herbs like madanaphala, jeemutaka, kritavedhana, and oils to stimulate vomiting. This process of medicated vomiting helps in removing kapha dosha from your body which is a major cause of psoriasis and eczema.
B. Takra Dhara
This is a special ayurvedic therapy that involves medicating the buttermilk with ayurvedic and medicinal herbs and then using it to control the symptoms of psoriasis. Takra means buttermilk and dhara means pouring something in a fixed pattern.
In this particular case, the buttermilk is infused with amla and the concoction is poured over the forehead at a stretch of 45-60 minutes for 7-14 days. This helps in reducing stress which is a major trigger for psoriasis and eczema.
Abhyanga, a full body massage, is an ayurvedic treatment that helps in improving blood circulation and helps in balancing the doshas in your skin that makes it dry. The oils that are used in this treatment are nimbadi oil and psoramet oil.
D. Virechana Therapy
In this process, your blood is purified and the pitta dosha is balanced. This ayurvedic treatment concentrates on removing the toxins accumulated in your liver and gallbladder. This treatment is started ideally 3 days after the vamana therapy is completed on a person.
It starts with the application of ayurvedic oil which is thoroughly massaged. Later, a medicated poultice is applied followed by a voluntary administered vomiting. After that, one undergoes a medicated bath and follows a light and warm diet throughout the process. 
2. Light Therapy
People suffering from eczema and psoriasis can both get relief by exposing the affected regions to the sun. At least 20 minutes of sunlight daily is a must. However, make sure to use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or more while being exposed to the sun as too much exposure or direct exposure can have adverse effects on your skin.
Also called light therapy, phototherapy is primarily used for eczema that's spread all over the body. The most common type of phototherapy used is narrowband UVB light. This treatment uses special equipment to emit either UVB or UVA light.
You need to perform this therapy 3 days a week for at least 3 months. It may be harmful for your skin so a doctor’s consultation is a must.
In this process, highly focussed beams of lights are targeted towards psoriasis and eczema affected patches of your skin, keeping your healthy skin aside. This process does not have much harmful effect on your skin. Most lasers use ultraviolet B light.
3. Topical Treatments
Topical medication that helps reduce eczema symptoms are tacrolimus and pimecrolimus. Both the medicines help in reducing immune system dysfunctions and do not have any side effects on the skin.
Eucrisa is another topical medicine that blocks a particular type of protein from affecting your body that causes inflammation and triggers eczema.
Topical medicines that help in reducing psoriasis symptoms are calcipotriene, this medication helps in reducing inflammation and contains vitamin D. Calcitriol helps to slow the rapid growth in skin cells. Tazarotene too helps in slowing down skin cell growth and contains vitamin A.
Zithranol, which you apply on your scalp, also helps in reducing psoriasis symptoms.
4. Lifestyle Habits
- Moisturize your skin daily with medicated and doctor recommended moisturizers after bath.
- Use lukewarm water for taking baths and washing your face.
- Avoid cosmetics and skincare products that contain chemicals. Instead, switch to ayurvedic and herbal products.
- Use prescribed creams that aid your condition when going out.
- Try to remain stress-free and calm.
- Perform light exercises everyday.
- Avoid smoking and drinking.
- Take extra care of skin injuries and keep checking them even after they have healed.
- Protect your skin from extreme temperatures with extra layering and doctor recommended moisturizers.
- Moisturize daily.
5. Over-The-Counter Treatments
Some over-the-counter medications can also be used to cure both psoriasis and eczema. While choosing cosmetics and skincare products you can look for these ingredients:
- Salicylic acid, urea and lactic acid.
- Calamine, camphor and methanol help soothe irritation caused by both psoriasis and eczema.
Frequently Asked Questions About Psoriasis And Eczema
1. Is It Possible To Have Both Psoriasis And Eczema?
If both parents have psoriasis, a child has approximately a 50 percent chance of developing the disease. Although the chances of having both psoriasis and eczema are extremely slim, you can get both.
2. Can Eczema Become Psoriasis?
Although both psoriasis and eczema have some similar symptoms and treatments, the cause of both these diseases are very different from each other so the chances of your eczema turning into psoriasis are nil. However, you can get both separately.
3. Which Is Worse: Eczema Or Psoriasis?
Eczema affects children who are incapable of taking care of themselves in these situations. Psoriasis, on the other hand, causes severe deformation of nails. Eczema may sometimes cause intense skin irritation which becomes uncontrollable whereas psoriasis can be connected to diabetes, depression and heart ailments. 
After analysing various studies it is safe to say that both psoriasis and eczema are equally disturbing and carry a lot of social stigma and discrimination along with them. It is not possible to say definitively that one is worse than the other.
The Last Word
You must be informed about both eczema and psoriasis, understand their possible triggers, know their characteristics and symptoms to be able to differentiate them, diagnose them and opt for the right treatment. 
Make sure you talk to your doctor, understand the treatments to manage the flare-ups. Choose herbal remedies, naturally-formulated products in your daily skincare routine over chemical ones to maintain your skin health.Know Your Dosha Now
1. Psoriasis and Atopic Dermatitis
2. Incidence and Clinical Predictors of Psoriatic Arthritis in Patients With Psoriasis: A Population-Based Study
3. The help you need to best manage your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.
4. Atopic Dermatitis
5. Eczema (young people)
7. Understanding Psoriatic Disease
8. Vamanopaga Gana: Emesis Aiding Herbs: Review, Benefits, Formulations
9. National history and risk factors of atopic dermatitis in children
10. Understanding Psoriatic Disease
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