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Psoriasis vs Eczema: Knowing the Difference

Psoriasis vs Eczema: Knowing the Difference
Shweta Chaubey

Key Takeaways:

  • Psoriasis results from immune system malfunction, while eczema is triggered by environmental factors and genetics, causing skin issues.
  • Psoriasis shows thick, scaly patches with silvery scales; eczema presents as red, inflamed skin with rough patches.
  • Eczema tends to occur on the face, elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles. Psoriasis commonly affects elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, and nails; 
  • Eczema often begins in infancy and persists into adulthood. Psoriasis usually starts between 15-35.
  • Treatment for Psoriasis targets rapid cell growth and immune response; eczema management involves moisturizing and avoiding triggers like allergens.
  • Seek medical help if symptoms worsen despite home care, affect daily activities, or show signs of infection.


Psoriasis and eczema are two skin problems that can make your skin dry, scaly, and itchy. Even though they can look similar, they are caused by different reasons and need different treatments.

Finding The Differences: Psoriasis vs. Eczema

While psoriasis and eczema might look alike, they're caused by different things and need different treatments. Psoriasis happens because your immune system is acting up, while eczema is more about your skin being sensitive to things in the world around you.

Basis Psoriasis Eczema
Cause Immune system malfunction triggers rapid skin cell growth Environmental triggers and genetic factors contribute to skin sensitivity and inflammation
Appearance Thick, scaly patches (plaques) often with silvery scales Red, itchy, inflamed skin, sometimes with rough patches
Common Locations Elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, and nails Face, elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles
Age of Onset Typically develops between ages 15-35, but can occur at any age Often begins in infancy or early childhood, but can persist into adulthood
Triggers Infections, stress, cold weather, certain medications Allergens (e.g., pet dander, pollen), harsh soaps, fabrics, weather changes
Genetic Factors A family history may increase the risk A family history may increase the risk
Immune System Overactive immune system response Skin barrier dysfunction and immune system sensitivity
Treatment Topical corticosteroids, phototherapy, systemic medications targeting the immune system Moisturizers, topical corticosteroids, antihistamines, immunosuppressants
  • Cause: Psoriasis is primarily triggered by an overactive immune system, while eczema is influenced by environmental factors and genetic predisposition.
  • Appearance: Psoriasis typically presents as thick, scaly patches (plaques) with silvery scales, whereas eczema manifests as red, inflamed skin often with rough patches.
  • Common Locations: Psoriasis commonly affects elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, and nails. On the other hand, eczema tends to occur on the face, elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles.
  • Age of Onset: Psoriasis usually develops between ages 15-35, but eczema often starts in infancy or early childhood.
  • Triggers: Psoriasis can be triggered by factors like infections and stress, while eczema flare-ups are often triggered by allergens, harsh soaps, and weather changes.
  • Genetic Factors: Family history plays a role in both conditions, with a higher risk if relatives have the same condition.
  • Immune System: Psoriasis involves an abnormal immune response, whereas eczema is characterized by skin barrier dysfunction and immune system sensitivity.
  • Treatment: Psoriasis treatment may include topical corticosteroids, phototherapy, and systemic medications targeting the immune system. Treatment for eczema often involves moisturizers, topical corticosteroids, antihistamines, and immunosuppressants. Treatment for psoriasis focuses on slowing down how fast your skin cells grow and calming down your immune system. With eczema, it's more about keeping your skin moisturized and avoiding things that make it angry.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin problem caused by your immune system going haywire. It makes your skin cells grow too fast, causing thick, scaly patches called plaques. These patches can be red, itchy, and sometimes have silvery scales on top. The most common type is called plaque psoriasis. It often shows up as raised, red patches on your skin. But if you have darker skin, these patches might look different—more purple, gray, or ashy. Infections, cold weather, stress, or certain medicines can make psoriasis worse. However, avoiding these triggers can help keep flare-ups under control.


Mild psoriasis can sometimes be managed with gentle care like keeping your skin clean, moisturized, and avoiding harsh soaps. But if your psoriasis is more severe, you might need prescription medicines. Doctors can prescribe creams or ointments with corticosteroids to calm down the redness and itching. Other treatments slow down how fast your skin cells grow, like anthralin or coal tar. Some medicines target your immune system directly to stop it from causing problems. Sometimes, doctors might suggest phototherapy, which uses UV light to help slow down skin cell growth.


What is Eczema?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is different from psoriasis. It's not caused by your immune system, but by things in the environment that make your skin react. We're still not sure exactly why some people get eczema, but it often runs in families and is more common in babies. This condition can make your skin dry, itchy, red, and rough. You might notice patches on your face, elbows, knees, or other parts of your body. Harsh soaps, fabrics, weather changes, or allergens like pet dander or pollen can trigger flare-ups.


While it isn't curable, there are ways to manage it and ease your symptoms. Keeping your skin moisturized is super important. Your doctor might recommend creams or ointments with corticosteroids to help with inflammation and itching. Other treatments, like calcineurin inhibitors, can also help reduce inflammation. Antihistamines might be useful for severe itching, and in some cases, doctors might suggest medicines that suppress your immune system to calm down eczema. Using gentle cleansers, applying cool cloths to itchy spots, managing stress, and avoiding scratching can also help keep eczema under control.


Can somebody have both at the same time?

Sometimes, people can have both, which means they might need different treatments for each one. If your skin is dry, scaly, or inflamed, it's a good idea to see a doctor who can figure out what's going on and suggest the right treatment. Other skin problems like ringworm or contact dermatitis can look like psoriasis or eczema but need different kinds of care.

By knowing the differences between psoriasis and eczema, you can figure out what's going on with your skin and get the help you need to feel better. Even though these conditions can be uncomfortable, with the right care, you can manage them and keep your skin happy and healthy.

When to seek a doctor’s help?

Consulting with an expert is crucial for managing psoriasis or eczema and preventing complications. If - 

  • You experience signs of infection
  • You experience joint pain or swelling
  • Your symptoms affect daily activities
  • You have severe itching or discomfort
  • Your symptoms worsen despite home treatment



Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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