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Is It Psoriasis or Eczema?

Thursday, May 13th

Is It Psoriasis or Eczema?

Eczema and psoriasis are both itchy, irritating conditions of the skin that result in periodic skin rashes. While they can sometimes be mistaken for each other, psoriasis is very different from eczema and therefore requires different choices for relief. That is why it is very important to know and understand which skin condition you have before adopting a course of action.

With eczema, a deficiency in the skin allows it to react violently to its environment. This can seem very much like an allergic reaction, but rarely has anything to do with allergies at all. During an eczema flare up, the affected skin becomes itchy, irritated, scaly and thickened. These symptoms can resemble those of psoriasis but a medical diagnosis can differentiate between the two.

Psoriasis, on the other hand, is a disorder of the immune system. In this disorder, the immune system releases substances that cause the cells of the skin to multiply at an extremely high rate. In normal skin, cells renew themselves about once every month, but in skin that is affected by psoriasis, this renewal can occur every two to four days. These extra skin cells then form thick, scaly, red plaques that are extremely itchy.

Psoriasis can occur anywhere that there is skin but is most commonly seen in the elbows, knees, and lower back. Eczema, on the other hand, occurs more frequently in the moist folds of the skin such as the neck, the insides of the elbows, and the back of the knee. Keep in mind, though, that eczema can also occur anywhere that there is skin and these guidelines only refer to the most common areas that are affected.

Even though psoriasis is not contagious, there does seem to be a link between psoriasis and family history. Of the 2.5% of people that are affected by psoriasis, one-third has a family history of the skin disorder. Unlike eczema that normally appears during the early childhood years and continues through life, psoriasis can develop at any time from birth to the grave.

While psoriasis is a skin disease, it has far reaching consequences. It is very common for people with psoriasis to suffer from depression as well. Since psoriasis is a very visible disease, its emotional impact can be quite severe especially in children. Even adults may not be able to overcome the isolation felt by being different from everyone else or be able to successfully ignore rude and blatant stares.

But there is hope for those with psoriasis. New medications are being introduced and studies have narrowed down the exact cause of psoriasis. While they may not know yet what causes the immune system to prompt the skin to make more and more skin cells, they know that by preventing this from occurring, a cure for psoriasis can be found. In the meantime, advocacy groups and new medications are making the reality of psoriasis more bearable for patients with this disorder.

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