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Eczema and Psoriasis

Do you have an itch that won’t go away? Are there red blotches on your skin? Eczema or psoriasis could be the culprit. One of our medical dermatologists at Millburn Laser Center in Millburn, New Jersey can help you get an accurate diagnosis. Both skin conditions share similar symptoms, but they have technical differences.

Understanding Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is an inflammation of the skin. The skin may appear red, inflamed, cracked, or blistered with leathery patches that are sometimes dark. It can cause an intense itch that can get so bad that individuals with eczema can scratch enough to make their skin bleed. Eczema is caused by a hypersensitivity reaction. The skin can overreact to certain triggers, such as soaps, fabrics, dyes, pets, and other irritants. 

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes an overproduction of skin cells. Instead of falling off, dead cells build up on the skin and turn into white, silvery scales. The skin becomes red, irritated, and itchy but is thicker and more inflamed compared to eczema. Aside from itching, the skin may also burn or sting. Some say the feeling is as if you’re getting bitten by fire ants. Just like eczema, psoriasis has known triggers that include cold weather, smoking, alcohol, stress, medications for headaches and high blood pressure, and infections like bronchitis.

  • Typical Eczema Sites

Eczema often appears on areas of the body that bend –for instance, the inner elbow or behind the knees. You can also have it on your neck, wrists, and ankles. Babies will sometimes have eczema manifesting on their scalp, cheeks, chin, back, chest, arms, and legs.

  • Typical Psoriasis Sites

Psoriasis typically appears on places like your scalp, face, elbows, knees, palms, lower back, and soles of the feet. Patches may also appear on the eyelids, ears, mouth, lips, fingernails, toenails, as well as skin folds.

 

Who Are Likely to Get Eczema and Psoriasis?

Eczema is more common in infants. According to the Nemours Foundation, About 1 out of every 10 kids will develop eczema and the condition begins to improve by the age of 5 or 6. Others can experience flare-ups throughout adolescence and early adulthood. The condition also occurs in people with a family history of asthma, hay fever, or allergies.

Psoriasis typically develops between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. About 10 to 15 percent of those with psoriasis get it before age 10. Psoriasis is rare in infants.

Treatment for Eczema and Psoriasis

There is no cure for eczema and psoriasis, but you can help manage its symptoms by taking good care of your skin and getting proper medical dermatology treatment.

For Eczema:

  • Apply corticosteroid creams to areas that itch
  • Apply an antihistamine cream or take an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine
  • Avoid harsh soaps with fragrances
  • Avoid long, hot showers or baths
  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Apply a cold compress to the affected areas (this provides relief while preventing you from scratching)
  • Keep the skin clean and moisturized

Since allergies trigger eczema, you must also avoid substances you’re allergic to (e.g., foods like nuts and eggs, dust, and animals). Keep your surroundings clean by regular dusting and placing dust-protective covers over pillows and mattresses.

For Psoriasis:

  • Apply corticosteroids
  • Apply moisturizing creams

For moderate-to-severe psoriasis, stronger medications may be prescribed. Examples include:

  • Anthralin
  • Coal tar
  • Salicylic acid
  • Synthetic vitamin D creams and solutions
  • Topical retinoids

If these topical treatments fail to reduce the occurrence of psoriasis, other medications are available by injection. These include:

  • Retinoids
  • Cyclosporine
  • Methotrexate
  • Immune-modulating drugs.

Both eczema and psoriasis can also be treated with phototherapy or light therapy that involves controlled exposure to ultraviolet light and works by slowing down the production of skin cells and reducing skin inflammation. Light therapy is also known to increase vitamin D production and boost the bacteria-fighting systems in the skin.

To learn more about eczema and psoriasis, visit cdc.gov

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Eczema And Psoriasis Contagious?

A: No. Eczema and psoriasis aren’t contagious. Most people with eczema, however, will have family members with the same condition.

Q: How Are They Diagnosed?

A: There is no specific diagnostic test for both eczema and psoriasis. Most of the time, your medical dermatologist should be able to diagnose these conditions with great accuracy by examining your skin and taking your medical history. Rarely, the doctor may take a sample of your skin for a biopsy. This helps identify the specific skin condition and to rule out other disorders. For more details about eczema, visit medlineplus.gov

Q: Can Someone Have Eczema And Psoriasis At The Same Time?

A: Yes. The two conditions can overlap. A child can sometimes have both eczema and psoriasis.

Q: Is Phototherapy Effective for Eczema?

A: Yes. Based on a study, UVB light therapy is an effective treatment for psoriasis. It is estimated that the symptoms improve noticeably or go away completely for a while in 50 to 90 out of 100 people. 

Q: Is Phototherapy Effective for Psoriasis?

A: According to the National Eczema Association, about 70% of people with eczema get better with phototherapy. Some people find that phototherapy puts their condition in a “quiet” state for a long time after the end of their treatment.

Q: Does Phototherapy Have Risks?

A: Yes. The most obvious risk is the exposure to UV radiation that can produce genetic mutations, which can lead to skin cancer, including melanoma. Other risks include sunburn and skin aging.

Treat Eczema and Psoriasis at New Jersey’s Millburn Laser Center

Do you suspect that your red, itchy patches are more than just a rash? If you’re concerned about having eczema or psoriasis, visit us at Millburn Laser Center in New Jersey. Our team of board-certified dermatologists can expertly diagnose your condition and recommend the best treatment options for relieving your symptoms and preventing future flare-ups. Contact us at (973)376-8500 today.

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Millburn Laser Center


12 East Willow Street

Millburn, NJ 07041

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