Is That Rash Psoriasis Or Eczema?

Are you experiencing dry, scaly, or itchy skin? And have you been hoping that it will eventually go away on its own? Well, if it’s not going away on its own, but is persistent, you might have a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema. These two similar conditions, which both cause rashes, are very common: more than 7 million Americans have psoriasis, while over 30 million have some type of eczema. Knowing the difference can help you identify your condition, learn what is causing it, and determine how best to treat it. And because August is Psoriasis Action Month, there is no better time to learn how to take care of your rash.

What Is Psoriasis?round patches of red rashes on the skin

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that is not contagious, and which causes skin cells to  overproduce; as the excess skin cells die, they build up into scales, making the skin red, inflamed, and itchy. There are multiple types of psoriasis, but plaque psoriasis is the most common one, accounting for 80-90% of cases of the condition. There is no cure for it, but there are some topical pharmaceutical treatments that can help control the condition.

It is unclear what causes the immune system to become overactive and trigger psoriasis, but genes and family history can play a role in who develops it: approximately 40% of people with psoriasis have a family member with the condition, and if one parent has psoriasis, their child has a roughly 30% chance of also having it. Stress, smoking, and certain infections, such as strep throat, can trigger psoriasis, but it usually appears when you are young (between the age of 16 and 22).

What Is Eczema?

bar of soap wrapped up in brown paper.
Allergies to soap, and other products can cause eczema.

Eczema is a long-term condition that is marked by inflammation of the skin, often as a reaction to dyes, fabrics, soaps, and other irritating substances. It is actually a group of skin conditions, including the common types: atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, and contact dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, with over 18 million Americans suffering from it.

Eczema typically occurs in people with a family history of asthma, hay fever, or other allergies, and if a parent has eczema, their child is 2-3 times more likely than other children to develop it, as well. In fact, although adults can develop the condition, eczema is most common in babies and children, and usually appears as early as 6 months; while many children will outgrow the condition, many will have it for their whole lives.

What Do Psoriasis & Eczema Look Like?

In looking at the two conditions, it can be hard to tell the difference visually between the two. “You have to look at all the clinical aspects of a rash to distinguish between eczema and psoriasis, including the history and the patient’s other medical problems,” according to dermatologist Anthony Fernandez, MD, PhD.

Symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Patches of red, thick, raised skin
  • Scaling of the plaques
  • Different sizes of plaques
  • Itchy plaquescaucasian skin with a rash on the hand and elbow

Symptoms of eczema include:

  • Dry skin
  • Inflamed, peeling, or cracked skin
  • Blistered or pus-filled skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Rashes on the elbows, behind the knees, or on the face, hands, and feet

One of the most obvious clues that can help differentiate the two is fluid leaking from the skin, which points to eczema. “When we see that, we definitely think about eczema instead of psoriasis,” he says. “But there are definitely times when we cannot tell the difference. And, in those cases, we will perform biopsies.”

Easing Symptoms

You can ease symptoms of these skin conditions by using over-the-counter treatments, such as salicylic acid, lactic acid, calamine, and coal tar. Other things you can try include:

moisturizer being pumped out on a hand

  • Practicing good skin care by keeping your skin moisturized, especially after you shower and in dry environments
  • Avoiding hot water, harsh soaps, washcloths, or other things that can irritate your skin
  • Avoiding long, hot baths or showers
  • Avoiding triggers that can worsen symptoms
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Drinking more water
  • Exercising regularly

If none of the above helps, and the symptoms of your psoriasis or eczema are staying the same or getting worse, speak to a dermatologist. They can prescribe topical medicated treatments that reduce inflammation, redness, and itching. Your doctor can also prescribe:

  • Immunosuppressive drugs, or oral medications to reduce your body’s immune activity
  • Phototherapy, or ultraviolet light treatment
  • Topical cortisol
  • Biologics, which are shots that target a specific molecule in each disease

If you have eczema or psoriasis, you are not alone. You can live an active life with either condition, but they can be very uncomfortable, so if you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, see your doctor to determine which condition you have, as well as to learn how to treat it and avoid triggers. 

If you have a condition like psoriasis or eczema that needs to be treated by a specialist and requires medications to control, you could end up with big medical bills, especially if you do not have insurance, or if your current plan is insufficient. If you are looking for health insurance to cover dermatologist visits or treatments for skin conditions, EZ can help. We can compare plans from the top-rated insurance companies in the country in minutes, and find an affordable one that provides the coverage you need, so you can pay less out-of-pocket. Our services are free, so you can focus on finding a great plan with no hidden costs. No obligation. To get free quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a licensed agent, call 888-350-1890.

Can Your Diet Cure Psoriasis?

What you eat affects your overall health and well-being, it is no secret that specific diets focus on curing bodily ailments. This is especially true for people dealing with psoriasis and other chronic diseases. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that results in dry, itchy, flaky, and scaly skin. The more skin cells produced, the worse the flare-ups. Reducing flare-ups, and preventing them from occurring, can be done by regulating what you eat. There are certain foods that can worsen symptoms, while other foods that can relieve them.

African American man lifting his white shirt reveiling his stomach with a caucasian woman measuring it with yellow tape.
Weight plays a major role in psoriasis woes. The more you weigh, then the more flare-ups.

Weight Plays A Role

Obesity raises the chances of developing psoriasis, and triggering itsit’s symptoms. Metabolic syndrome, the build-up of fat-storing cells around the waist, triggers inflammation which promotes psoriasis. A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology showed that a 20-week weight loss plan (involving diet and exercise) reduced the severity of psoriasis by 48% in overweight people who were resistant to psoriasis treatment.

Foods To Avoid

When you have conditions that are caused by inflammation, it is important to recognize the foods that can cause it, and stay away from them. These foods include:

  • Fatty red meats– Red meat contains higher levels of cholesterol and saturated fats. 
  • Gluten– People with psoriasis have been found to have increased gluten sensitivity. Avoid foods with wheat, rye, barley, and malt.
  • Refined sugars– Sugar increases inflammation in your body. It is high in calories and does nothing good for your body but pack on weight, which promotes psoriasis.
  • Dairy products– Eggs and dairy products contain arachidonic acid which plays a role in creating psoriatic lesions. 
  • Processed foods– Microwavable foods, packaged deli meats, and canned soups are all examples of processed foods. highly processed foods are high in sodium and sugars. Eating a lot of processed foods can lead to obesity, which is linked to psoriasis flare-ups.
White bowl filled with fruits and nuts surrounded by more fruit on the table, for psoriasis diet.
Eating a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables will help erudce inflammation, and psoriasis issues.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Eat

Eat a balanced diet primarily composed of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats in order to prevent inflammation. This diet is sometimes referred to as the Mediterranean diet. Diets that contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants can also help reduce inflammation, and improve symptoms of psoriasis. In order to remain healthy, eat a diet that includes:

  • Omega-3’s- Oily fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout, cod, and tuna;  fish oil; and nuts such as walnuts, soybeans, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds. 
  • Oils- Consider cooking with oils that have a high ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These oils are olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and safflower oil.
  • Fruits & Vegetables- Fruits that have antioxidants such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and grapes. Vegetables rich in antioxidants to indulge in are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and leafy greens like kale, and spinach.

Drink More Water

Water is the most important thing you can give your body. It needs it. This is especially true for people dealing with psoriasis. Research shows that drinking water is crucial in reducing the severity of it. Drinking at least 2 liters of water a day may dramatically reduce your psoriasis. This does not just simply mean to stay hydrated with liquids. It means you need to drink more water, and less juice, and other sugary drinks. 

Eating a healthy diet will not be enough to make your psoriasis issues better. Changing your diet and sticking to it can be hard, but if it is done properly, you will see (and feel) more than just relief for psoriasis woes.  A healthy diet will reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The Meditteranean diet has been proven to help people live longer. You may want to consider other diets, such as a vegan one that is high in anti-inflammatory foods. Consider talking to your doctor and nutritionist in order to explore your options and how to safely and correctly change your diet. Once you fuel your body with the good stuff, it will heal. As a bonus, your mood and sense of well being will improve.