Eczema or Psoriasis? How Can I Tell Which I Have

Dec 15, 2022
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Eczema and psoriasis both cause symptoms that can make you uncomfortable and unhappy with the appearance of your skin. Learn how to tell the difference between these common skin conditions and what treatment options are available for symptom relief.

There are quite a few skin conditions that cause symptoms so similar to each other that you need a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis. Eczema and psoriasis are two conditions people easily confuse because of the similarities in symptoms. However, they are two very different diseases.

At Island Aesthetics & Dermatology, our advanced registered nurse practitioners Kristy Anderson, ARNP, and Shannon Tumblin, ARNP, and our skilled medical team specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of both eczema and psoriasis. We customize care plans to resolve your symptoms and protect the long-term health of your skin.

An overview of eczema and psoriasis

Eczema and psoriasis are terms often used interchangeably to describe itchy skin issues. However, the two conditions aren’t the same.


Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, itchy patches to form on the skin. These patches can also become inflamed and leak fluids.

While the underlying cause of eczema isn’t well understood, it’s believed that exposure to an allergen in the environment triggers symptoms.


Psoriasis is a skin disorder that develops when your immune system overreacts and produces too many new skin cells. The increased production leads to a buildup of cells on the surface of your skin, which develop into thick, scaly skin patches.

Immune system dysfunction is the root cause of psoriasis. Your risk for the disease increases if it’s in your family history. Your symptoms may also worsen due to stress, skin damage, use of medications, or weather changes.

Distinguishing between eczema and psoriasis

While it’s true that the dry, scaly patches of skin that both conditions cause can look very similar, there are ways to tell which skin issue you actually have.

Here are some differences between the two diseases:

Symptom differences

If you take a closer look at the scaly patches of skin, you should notice that eczema patches appear very dry and red. Psoriasis patches appear as well-formed, thick plaques (lesions) of white or silvery scaly skin.


When you have eczema, symptoms typically develop in the folds of the skin. Children tend to get eczema in the creases of their neck, wrists, ankles, and elbows, while adults experience dry skin patches on their hands and face.

Psoriasis symptoms generally appear on the scalp, elbows, knees, and soles of the foot. You might also develop scaly patches on your ears, eyelids, and mouth.

Skin itchiness

Eczema and psoriasis both cause itchy skin. However, the itch with eczema may be more intense than psoriasis, especially at nighttime. When you have psoriasis, you may have a mild itch and also experience a stinging or burning sensation where scales develop.

Disease onset

The onset of your skin issues can be a helpful reference in identifying eczema or psoriasis. Both conditions can develop at any age, but eczema tends to appear in early childhood. When you have psoriasis, the onset age of symptoms tends to be between age 15 and 35.

Treatment options

While there’s currently no cure for eczema or psoriasis, our providers can help you manage your symptoms in the long term.

Using a combination of topical and oral medications, skin care products, light therapy and lifestyle changes, you can learn how to keep your symptoms under control. Our providers customize a care plan to your needs to keep your skin clear and healthy.

Call Island Aesthetics & Dermatology in Coupeville, Washington to schedule a diagnostic evaluation for eczema or psoriasis symptoms or book an appointment online today.