Psoriasis and eczema are two different skin conditions that have many overlapping features and hence are commonly used interchangeably by the common people. The two are different entities with different underlying causes , predisposing factors and ongoing pathology. The two may co-exist in the same person. The diagnosis of both is mainly clinical and is most apparent on proper inspection and evaluation.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is characterised by red, well-defined patches with silvery white scales (flakes of skin) that may or may not be itchy mostly on joint surfaces of body like knee and elbows and exterior surfaces like the shin, outer arms and lower back. It has a strong genetic component and hence tends to run in families. The basic defect is in the turnover process of the skin whereby cells are replaced from bottom most layer to topmost layer at an accelerated rate (3-4fold than normal) exceeding the rate of normal shedding and eventually accumulating as heaps of dead skin which are seen as red flaky patches and plaques.
What is Eczema?
While eczema also called dermatitis is inflammation of skin of any body part characterised by red itchy raw sore area of skin that may be oozy or rarely pus filled sometimes associated with pain, thickened skin, cracks ,crust, fluid filled blisters, pigmentation etc depending upon duration and type. Eczema is a broad term and incorporates a variety of conditions that leads to an allergic rash. The cause can be external or internal .External causes include contact dermatitis(hair dye,plants,fertilizers,cosmetics etc) ,photo dermatitis(due to sunlight) etc. internal causes include atopic eczema, seborrhoeic dermatitis, stasis eczema (due to engorged varicose veins), eczema associated with dry skin, systemic illnesses and drug intake for various ailments.
How are Eczema and Psoriasis treated?
Eczema treatment primarily involves tracing and removal of inciting agent alongside symptomatic treatment while psoriasis treatments aims at targeting the causative pathology( immune regulation, cell differentiation) and symptomatic( removal of scales, itch control).
Psoriasis is primarily controlled with treatment rather than cured. It is a lifelong disease with variable period of flares and remission. Eczema also has varied response to treatment and mostly improves with avoidance of allergen and predisposing factors.