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For some, dry skin can be caused by harsh weather, soaps, or even water. This is nothing a little moisturizer can’t fix. But for others, dry skin could be the result of a more severe condition. Eczema and psoriasis are the main culprits. Each condition has specific characteristics and needs special care. So how can one tell the difference?
Eczema is a skin rash from a reaction or allergy. The condition is mainly present in young children. However, older persons can develop the condition. With eczema, the reaction is the body’s immune system attacking the skin. This causes inflammation in areas like the wrists, elbows, knees, and face. More severe cases show up on the hands and feet. Environmental occurrences like pollen, metals, and even stress cause these flareups.
When an allergen or irritant touches the skin, the immune system reacts in kind. This reaction causes inflammation. This inflammation causes the skin to separate and lose water, causing dryness. Dry skin causes scratching, damaging the skin’s surface even more. This cycle is the main reason for dry skin. There are several types of eczema, depending on the location and type of reaction. These include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis, linked with dandruff.
Similar to eczema, psoriasis is an inflammatory disease of the skin. The cells responsible for fighting bacteria starts attacking the skin, causing a massive buildup. Psoriasis can be more chronic and impact similar parts of the body to eczema. This includes the elbows, knees, hands, feet, and sometimes the scalp. However, there are some cases where the condition covers most of the body. Psoriasis can also cause inflammation in the joints. The condition affects all ages with close to 7 million Americans people suffering from some form of psoriasis.
While eczema appears as a skin rash, psoriasis presents in different forms. Some outbreaks look like scaly red patches. Others look like a plaque buildup. This is due to the rapidly growing skin cells. The cause of psoriasis is unknown, with no cure. Genetics is the most prominent precursor of the disease. Persons with diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and depression can also have psoriasis. Like eczema, external factors like stress and alcohol trigger the disease.
Both psoriasis and eczema show symptoms of dry skin. This makes an initial diagnosis difficult. But there are a few differences. Eczema often appears in small children, whereas teens and adults generally get psoriasis. Eczema often shows on the flexor surfaces, like the inside of elbows or back of knees. Psoriasis can appear on the scalp, back, arms, ears, and even fingernails. While the skin is dry in both cases, eczema causes an uncomfortable itch. Psoriasis, on the other hand, may cause an intense burning feeling. Yet, the biggest difference is the thick buildup of psoriasis versus the red patches standard in eczema.
Most persons will have difficulty discerning the condition. The best bet is to visit a dermatologist. Dermatologists can perform different tests to diagnose the condition clearly. There are no cures for either eczema and psoriasis. Rest assured, the doctor will provide the right medication and advice for the right disease.