Psoriasis vs Eczema: What’s the difference?

You may think you have eczema if your skin is red and itchy. However, after investing in eczema treatment, you may find that you actually have something else.

While eczema is prevalent in the United States, psoriasis is also common. These conditions affect about 32 and 7.5 million Americans, respectively. These skin conditions can look and feel similar, but they are not the same. By recognizing the clues that set them apart, you can seek the right products to help relieve the condition.

What Is the Difference Between Psoriasis vs Eczema?

If your skin is red, dry, raised, and itchy, you may wonder, do I have eczema or psoriasis? These conditions are confusingly similar in their appearances, so it’s understandable why you might be unsure.

Perhaps the greatest difference between psoriasis vs eczema is what causes them:

  • Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes your skin cells to grow too quickly. As these cells pile on one another, they form a scaly layer.
  • Eczema is more complex, often caused by a combination of genetic and environmental variables.

When comparing where these conditions show up on the body, you can find psoriasis on the scalp, elbows, knees, buttocks, and face. Eczema also affects these places. However, inflammation associated with eczema often flares up inside the elbows or behind your knees.

Psoriasis vs Eczema: How They Feel Different

In terms of how these conditions feel, you may feel different levels of itching and burning so pay particular attention to the type of itchiness you experience. The kind of itchiness you experience is a key difference between eczema and psoriasis.

Eczema typically causes an intense itch. Some individuals suffering from this skin condition will scratch until they bleed. In contrast, psoriasis will also be itchy but may cause a burning sensation. Some say it’s as if they are being bitten by fire ants.

How to Treat Eczema and Psoriasis

At the first sign of skin irritation, it’s important to seek a diagnosis. Early diagnosis is an important step in the process of how to treat eczema and psoriasis and can help reduce the risk of complications. For example, when left untreated, psoriasis arthritis can lead to joint damage.

Eczema Early Stages

Eczema has three stages — acute, subacute, and chronic. The progression of eczema, however, isn’t always linear and the stages do not represent severity. For example, acute eczema can have mild or severe symptoms. It isn’t clear why eczema rashes progress from one stage to the next, but it may involve coming into contact with certain triggers, such as hormonal changes.

During the acute stage, this is when a rash will form. Itching is the first warning sign and will typically develop before the rash is apparent. Other characteristics of this stage include:

  • Extreme redness
  • Bumps
  • Pain
  • Heat
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Fluid-filled blisters

Treating Eczema

The stage you’re experiencing will determine the treatment of choice.

Although there are several options based on your individual symptoms and the severity of those symptoms, moisturizers are beneficial during all three stages, especially the subacute and chronic stages. This is when your skin will be dry, flaky, and itchy. Cutemol Cream is an excellent example. This ultra-rich cream is designed to help treat parched, cracked skin.

  1. To begin your personalized treatment plan, identify your triggers.
  2. Implement a regular bathing and moisturizing regimen. Creams will help you control itch and rejuvenate your skin.
  3. If your physician advises additional support, begin using OTC or prescription medications.
  4. Remain aware of your condition and watch for signs of infection, which include heat, redness, or pus-filled bumps.
  5. Use a humidifier because hot, dry indoor air can worsen your condition.
  6. You may also want to address your diet, opting for plenty of nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods.

Psoriasis Early Stages

The signs and symptoms of psoriasis differ from one person to another and include:

  • Red, irritated patches of skin with thick silvery scales
  • Among children, these scaling spots will be small
  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Itching and burning
  • Swollen and stiff joints

Psoriasis is a chronic disease, and most types go through cycles. Symptoms may flare up for a couple of weeks or months and then subside.

Treating Psoriasis

Treatment options for psoriasis are systemic or topical. Systemic treatments affect your entire body; topical treatments are those you apply directly to your skin. Various formulas for treatment options for psoriasis are available, including those that target your scalp and those like Keralyt 5 (salicylic acid) Shampoo that penetrate difficult-to-treat areas.

Topical steroids are common prescription treatments, but these can cause a range of side effects. That is why many individuals opt for a steroid-free alternative, such as Keralyt 5 gel cream or Cutar Emulsion – Psoriasis Lotion.

There are many options, which you can discuss directly with your physician. The best treatment plans often combine various remedies.

Light therapy is another first-line treatment that can help treat moderate and severe psoriasis. For example, brief, daily exposure to sunlight has been shown to improve psoriasis. You can also seek controlled doses of UVB and UVA light therapy — all of which you must discuss with a physician. This will help you select the safest, most effective option.

While addressing your lifestyle, here are a few additional tips to consider:

  • Take daily baths, adding Epsom salts and colloidal oatmeal if desired.
  • Moisturize multiple times daily and after bathing — Keralyt 5 Cream is a sound choice.
  • Avoid alcohol if consumption of it can decrease the effectiveness of your treatment.
  • Know and avoid your triggers, which may include smoking, intense sun exposure, and more.

If you often experience skin issues, you want to take proactive and ongoing action. We welcome you to read the following resources if you believe that you’re suffering from psoriasis or eczema: Psoriasis Relief and Information and Eczema Care.



  • Michael Reed

    Michael Reed is a medical writer at Sumlab, focusing on dermatological studies and treatments. His articles help demystify complex clinical results for a broad audience.

    View all posts