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Psoriasis vs eczema: What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between psoriasis and eczema? Explore the causes, symptoms and treatments with La Roche-Posay.

What is the difference between psoriasis and eczema?

Frustratingly, psoriasis is one of the skin conditions that science understands the least. While the exact causes are unknown, it is believed that it is related to our genes and immune system.

Whereas, with normal skin, cells are made and replaced within 3-4 weeks, but in skin affected by psoriasis this process occurs within 3-4 days, resulting in a build-up of dead, shedding cells on the surface. For some reason, your body tries to get rid of the healthy skin cells, which is why psoriasis is believed to be related to the immune system, our body’s self-defense mechanism. It’s also important to note that psoriasis is not contagious.

Eczema is a little better understood, but much like psoriasis, the root cause is largely unknown. Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema and is most common in children, but it can develop in adults too. Eczema-prone skin cannot retain moisture, making it more vulnerable to irritable triggers. Symptoms include inflamed, dry, itchy, sore and cracked skin to varying degrees of severity.

Eczema can also be a hereditary condition, and often occurs in people who have allergies. Unfortunately, the symptoms can be extremely irritating during aggressive flare-ups which can have a significant impact on your daily physical and mental health. This is why finding the right treatment and a way to manage it is so important.

What do psoriasis and eczema look like, and how can you tell the difference?

Due to the build-up of these skin cells on the surface, psoriasis manifests as flare-ups of red, flaky, crusty patches on the skin, most commonly on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back (although it can occur anywhere). Psoriasis can vary in intensity from person to person, and many find that they experience flare-ups followed by calm periods when the skin is unaffected.

Like psoriasis, eczema varies from person to person and often presents in flare-ups rather than continuous symptoms. Eczema can appear inflamed, cracked and rashy all over the body, but is most common on the hands, insides of elbows, backs of knees and face. This inflammation usually appears red on lighter skin, and darker brown, purple or grey on darker skin tones.

How can I tell if I have psoriasis or eczema?

You may find your symptoms are very similar to those mentioned but sometimes the line can become blurred which makes it hard to know which skin condition you have. The best way of knowing is to make an appointment with a doctor or dermatologist who can recommend the best course of action. They may also recommend a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis if they’re still unsure.

How can I help treat my psoriasis and/or eczema?

As the medical community is still unsure about the exact causes of psoriasis and eczema, there is no ‘miracle cure’, but there are ways you can soothe the skin by reducing inflammation. There are many creams and emollients available over the counter that that can help to hydrate the skin, calm irritation, while stopping the itching and reducing the risk of further irritation and infection from scratching.

What products are suitable for my skin if I suffer with these conditions?

La Roche-Posay’s Lipikar and Cicaplast skincare ranges are both developed for the needs of very dry skin, and are also suitable for skin prone to allergy and eczema-prone skin. They contain products with very minimalist formulas that have been through vigorous dermatological testing. This makes them suitable for the most sensitive skin.

Discover the Lipikar range


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