Psoriasis and Eczema: Understanding the Connection

I’ve dealt with chronic skin issues and know how tough they can be. Dealing with eczema’s itch or psoriasis’s plaques can really affect our health and mood. But learning more about how these conditions are linked can help us find better ways to cope.

Key Takeaways

  • Eczema is about four times more common than psoriasis, affecting 32 million people compared to 7.2 million with psoriasis.
  • Psoriasis typically appears in early adulthood, while eczema is more common in children and often improves as they grow older.
  • Eczema presents as dry, itchy rashes, while psoriasis causes scaly, raised patches on the skin.
  • Both conditions are chronic and require long-term management, but treatments are available to help manage symptoms.
  • Understanding the triggers and differences between eczema and psoriasis is crucial for proper diagnosis and effective treatment.


Eczema and psoriasis are both chronic skin issues but have different causes and effects. It’s important to know the differences to get the right diagnosis and treatment.

Eczema: An Overactive Immune System

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, happens when the immune system gets too active. This causes inflammation and irritation on the skin. The skin may become dry, itchy, and red or scaly. These symptoms often show up in skin folds like the elbow bends, behind the knees, and on the face.

Psoriasis: Abnormal Immune Response

Psoriasis is caused by an immune system mistake that makes skin cells grow too fast. This leads to thick, scaly plaques on different parts of the body. These can be on the elbows, knees, scalp, and torso.

The way the rashes look is quite different. Eczema causes dry, itchy patches. Psoriasis results in thick, silvery-white scales on red, inflamed skin.

Knowing these differences helps doctors make the right diagnosis and treatment plan for each condition.

“Differentiating between eczema and psoriasis is crucial for effective management of these skin conditions.”

Are Psoriasis and Eczema Related?

Eczema and psoriasis may look similar but are actually different conditions. They both involve the immune system but in unique ways. Eczema happens when the immune system overreacts to certain things, causing inflammation and irritation. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks healthy skin cells, leading to scaly patches.

It’s rare but possible for someone to have both eczema and psoriasis at the same time. This makes diagnosing and treating both conditions harder because they need different approaches.

Let’s look at some key differences between these two skin diseases:

  • Psoriasis can cause itchiness or may not itch at all, while eczema tends to be itchier.
  • Psoriasis presents as red, thick, and scaly plaques with defined edges, while eczema usually appears as dry, itchy skin folds.
  • Psoriasis can involve the scalp, elbows, knees, skin folds, hands, feet, and genital regions, whereas eczema typically appears in flexural areas, such as the insides of elbows and behind the knees.

Knowing the differences between eczema and psoriasis is key for correct diagnosis and treatment. This helps healthcare providers create specific treatment plans for people with these autoimmune disorders and inflammatory diseases.

Characteristic Eczema Psoriasis
Itchiness Tends to be itchier Can be itchy or non-itchy
Appearance Dry, itchy skin folds Red, thick, scaly plaques with defined edges
Affected Areas Flexural areas (elbows, behind knees) Scalp, elbows, knees, skin folds, hands, feet, genital regions

Understanding the relationship between psoriasis and eczema helps healthcare providers and those affected by these conditions work together. This leads to better management strategies and improved skin health and well-being.

Prevalence and Age of Onset

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is much more common than psoriasis. About 32 million people in the US have eczema, while only 7.2 million have psoriasis. This shows how widespread eczema is, especially in children.

Eczema: More Common in Children

Eczema usually starts in babies or young kids. Most people get it before they are 5 years old. Psoriasis, on the other hand, often starts in adults, between 15 and 35 years old. Eczema might get better or go away as kids grow up. Psoriasis, however, is often a lifelong condition that needs ongoing care.

Children are much more likely to get eczema than adults. Up to 20% of kids may have eczema at some time, compared to 3-10% of adults. This highlights the need for early spotting and treatment of eczema to prevent problems and improve life quality.

Condition Prevalence in the US Typical Age of Onset
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) 32 million Infancy or early childhood
Psoriasis 7.2 million 15-35 years

Knowing how often and when eczema and psoriasis start is key for doctors. It helps them diagnose and treat these skin issues on time and effectively.

Types and Presentations

Eczema and psoriasis have many subtypes that show up differently on the skin. Knowing the various types and how they look is key to spotting and handling these conditions well.

Psoriasis: Diverse Skin Patterns

The most common psoriasis type is plaque psoriasis. It leads to thick, scaly patches on the skin. About 8 in 10 people with psoriasis have this kind. Other types include:

  • Guttate psoriasis, which starts as small, red spots in children or young adults.
  • Inverse psoriasis, found in skin folds like the armpits and groin.
  • Pustular psoriasis, a rare type that mostly hits adults and comes in various forms.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis, the rarest and most serious type, covering most of the body with red skin.

Psoriasis, no matter the type, leads to patches of red skin with silvery scales.

Eczema: A Group of Skin Conditions

Eczema is a group of conditions that cause dry, itchy, and inflamed skin, often in folds. The most common type is atopic dermatitis. It affects over 9.6 million kids and 16.5 million adults in the U.S.

Other eczema types include dyshidrotic eczema and neurodermatitis. Eczema can lead to swelling, bumps, fluid-filled pockets, darkened skin, oozing, and crusting.

The look of eczema rashes can change based on skin tone. It might show as gray or ashen on darker skin.

Knowing the many types and looks of eczema and psoriasis is key for right diagnosis and treatment. Getting advice from a doctor is best for managing these skin issues.

Symptoms and Appearance

Eczema: Dry, Itchy Skin Folds

Psoriasis and eczema both cause dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. But they look and act differently. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, has red, dry areas with fine scaling. These areas often show up in skin folds like the elbows, knees, and neck.

Psoriasis looks like red, well-defined lesions with thick, white scaling. It usually shows up on the outer parts of the elbows and knees. It can also be found on the scalp, palms, and soles of the feet.

The look of eczema skin can change a lot. During flare-ups, it gets very dry, itchy, and inflamed. This can lead to scratching and more irritation. Sometimes, it can even form small blisters or get thick and leathery.

“Eczema is typically characterized by poorly demarcated, red, and dry areas with fine scaling, often appearing in the skin folds of the body.”

Knowing how eczema and psoriasis look and feel is key to getting the right treatment. Seeing a doctor is important for managing these skin issues. They can help create a plan to ease symptoms and improve skin health.

Itching and Discomfort

Eczema and psoriasis both cause discomfort, but in different ways. Eczema is known for its intense itching, especially in kids. This itching can make sleeping and daily tasks hard. Psoriasis might make you feel like your skin is burning or stinging, but some people might also itch a bit.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a long-term skin issue that affects 10-20% of babies. Half of these kids grow out of it. But for those who don’t, the itching can be so bad it keeps them awake and makes it hard to focus.

The itching from eczema is often described as unbearable. It can make people scratch, which only makes things worse. This creates a cycle of more irritation and discomfort.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that can make your skin feel like it’s burning or stinging. Most people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. This type shows up as red, scaly patches on the skin. Some might itch a little, but the main feeling is often a burning or stinging.

How much discomfort you feel can really vary. Some people with eczema or psoriasis might have it worse than others. Getting advice from a doctor and following a treatment plan can help ease the discomfort.

“The intense itching associated with eczema can be particularly challenging for children, leading to sleep disruption and difficulty concentrating on daily activities.”

Treatment Options

There is no cure for eczema or psoriasis, but there are ways to manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups. The right treatment depends on the condition’s type and severity, and how the body reacts to different treatments.

Tailored Approaches for Each Condition

For eczema, treatments include over-the-counter moisturizers, topical corticosteroids, and avoiding triggers. If eczema is severe, doctors might prescribe calcineurin inhibitors. These treatments help reduce inflammation and stop dry, itchy skin.

For psoriasis, treatments can be topical, phototherapy, or systemic medications. Mild to moderate psoriasis might be treated with creams or light therapy. Severe cases might need stronger treatments like oral or injectable drugs.

  1. For eczema, common treatments include:
    • Over-the-counter moisturizers to hydrate the skin
    • Topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
    • Avoidance of triggers like harsh soaps, stress, and extreme temperatures
    • Prescription calcineurin inhibitors for severe cases
  2. For psoriasis, treatment options may involve:
    • Topical therapies like corticosteroids and vitamin D analogues
    • Phototherapy using UVB light to slow skin cell growth
    • Systemic medications like immunosuppressants and biologics

Working with healthcare providers helps people with eczema or psoriasis find the best treatment for eczema or treatment for psoriasis. This can greatly improve their quality of life.

“The key to managing eczema and psoriasis is finding the right management strategies that work for your individual needs.”

Coexistence and Diagnosis

It’s rare but possible for someone to have both eczema and psoriasis at the same time. Studies suggest about 1.3% of people in the U.S. might deal with both conditions. This makes it hard for doctors to diagnose eczema and psoriasis because they look similar. Both can cause dry, itchy, and inflamed skin.

Research shows that atopic dermatitis (eczema) and psoriasis can happen one after the other. In many cases, eczema comes after psoriasis is first diagnosed. This shows how important it is to look at both conditions together when treating someone with both.

To figure out if someone has eczema and psoriasis, doctors use history, physical checks, and sometimes skin biopsies. This helps them tell the two apart and choose the right treatment.

Some people might see both eczema and psoriasis flare up at the same time, known as “Eczema in Psoriatico” (EIP). This makes diagnosing even harder because the signs of both conditions can mix together.

“The coexistence of eczema and psoriasis is a complex and relatively uncommon occurrence, but understanding the nuances of this relationship is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective management of both conditions.”

Knowing about the chance of having both eczema and psoriasis helps doctors give the best treatment. This leads to better skin health and life quality for those affected.

Triggers and Flare-ups

Eczema and psoriasis can be set off by many things. Knowing what these are is key to controlling symptoms and stopping flare-ups.

Eczema Triggers

  • Irritants, such as harsh soaps, fragrances, and certain fabrics
  • Allergens, including dust mites, pollen, and pet dander
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Changes in temperature or humidity

Psoriasis Triggers

  1. Infections, such as strep throat or bronchitis
  2. Skin injuries, including cuts, scrapes, and bug bites
  3. Stress and emotional factors
  4. Certain medications, like lithium and corticosteroids
  5. Environmental conditions, including cold, dry weather and sunburn

Knowing what triggers your eczema or psoriasis is key. Avoiding these triggers helps manage symptoms. Also, sticking to a skincare routine and using treatments as advised can help control flare-ups.

Eczema Triggers Psoriasis Triggers
Irritants (harsh soaps, fragrances, fabrics) Infections (strep throat, bronchitis)
Allergens (dust mites, pollen, pet dander) Skin injuries (cuts, scrapes, bug bites)
Stress and anxiety Stress and emotional factors
Changes in temperature or humidity Certain medications (lithium, corticosteroids)
Environmental conditions (cold, dry weather, sunburn)

“Identifying and avoiding personal triggers is crucial for managing eczema and psoriasis flare-ups.”

Lifestyle and Skincare Routines

Maintaining Healthy Skin

For people with eczema or psoriasis, a consistent skincare routine is key. This means using gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers often. Avoid harsh soaps and detergents. For eczema, keeping the skin hydrated and avoiding triggers is crucial. Psoriasis may need treatments like topical corticosteroids or light therapy.

Living a healthy life helps manage these skin conditions. This includes managing stress, eating well, and staying active.

  • Moisturizers can significantly help in healing irritated skin, reducing dryness, itching, and redness.
  • Ointments are recommended for locking in moisture, while lotions are more easily absorbed.
  • Use of a humidifier at home can aid in skin moisture retention, particularly in hot and dry conditions.
  • A mild soap and daily warm bath can soothe itchy spots and remove dry skin.

Sunlight can help slow skin cell growth and heal psoriasis. Stress can make psoriasis worse, so managing stress is key. Eating well, staying hydrated, exercising, and sleeping well also help manage psoriasis.

“Avoiding harsh products, like those with alcohol, and materials like wool that can irritate sensitive skin is recommended.”

Try not to scratch as it can cause skin tears and infections. Short nails and antihistamines can help reduce itching. Smoking and heavy drinking can trigger psoriasis flares, so it’s best to quit or cut down with medical advice.

Everyone’s skin reacts differently to products and ingredients. So, it’s best to get advice from a dermatologist for what works best for you. Brands like CeraVe®, Eucerin®, and Cetaphil Eczema® offer good skincare options for eczema.

  1. Lotions have a higher water content compared to creams and ointments, making them less effective at hydrating eczema-prone skin.
  2. Cleansers with labels such as gentle, fragrance-free, sensitive skin, hypoallergenic, and soap-free are recommended for individuals with eczema.
  3. Moisturizers containing ceramides are beneficial for replenishing the natural moisturizing elements of the skin for eczema patients.
  4. Facial acids and skincare products containing fragrances can be irritating and lead to allergic reactions for individuals with eczema.

Bleach baths can help reduce inflammation and prevent infections for eczema. Mix 1/2 cup of household bleach with lukewarm water in the bathtub. Wearing gloves at night after moisturizing helps prevent scratching and keeps the skin hydrated.


Eczema and psoriasis are two different skin conditions. They have their own causes, symptoms, and ways to treat them. Knowing the differences between them is key to managing your skin well.

Over 31.6 million people in the U.S. have eczema, often starting in childhood. Some may outgrow it. Psoriasis usually starts later, affecting about 7.5 million Americans. Eczema is linked to a genetic issue with the skin barrier. Psoriasis is caused by fast skin cell growth.

Understanding the link between eczema and psoriasis helps you get the right treatment. This way, you can take care of your skin better. Remember, managing these conditions means staying informed, being proactive, and working with your healthcare team.


Are psoriasis and eczema related?

Psoriasis and eczema are not the same but share some similarities. They both affect the immune system and can cause dry, itchy, and inflamed skin.

How do eczema and psoriasis differ in their appearance and symptoms?

Eczema leads to dry, itchy rashes that are not clearly defined. Psoriasis causes scaly plaques that are well-defined. The location and appearance of the symptoms help tell them apart.

Which skin condition is more common, eczema or psoriasis?

Eczema is much more common than psoriasis. It affects about 32 million people in the U.S., while psoriasis affects around 7.2 million.

When do eczema and psoriasis typically develop?

Eczema often starts in babies or young children. Psoriasis usually starts in adults, most commonly between ages 15 and 35.

Can an individual have both eczema and psoriasis?

Yes, it’s rare but possible to have both eczema and psoriasis at the same time. About 2% of people with eczema also have psoriasis.

What are some common triggers for eczema and psoriasis flare-ups?

Eczema can be triggered by irritants, allergens, stress, and changes in temperature or humidity. Psoriasis can be triggered by infections, skin injuries, stress, certain medications, and cold, dry weather.

How can individuals with eczema or psoriasis manage their skin health?

A consistent skincare routine, using gentle products, and avoiding triggers are key for managing eczema or psoriasis. Getting the right medical treatment and living a healthy lifestyle also helps.

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