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How to Tell Whether That Itchy Rash Is Eczema or Psoriasis

If you have a red itchy patch of skin, you may be suffering from eczema or psoriasis. Though some of the symptoms are similar, there are also a number of differences between these two skin conditions, including the type of treatment. It's important to get a professional opinion to know what’s causing your itching.

Here at Plateroti Dermatology in Templeton, California, Dr. Carmelo Plateroti and our highly skilled staff offer cutting-edge treatments for all your skincare needs, including properly identifying that annoying rash.


Although both conditions can cause itching and redness, there are some subtle differences. Eczema inflames the skin, leading to scaling, oozing, and/or crusting. Bleeding can also result from excessive itching in a desperate attempt at relief. Rough, leathery, and sometimes dark patches may also occur as can swelling.

Like eczema, psoriasis can result in itching, but it may burn or sting as well. Additionally, the red patches consist of dead cells that have built up, resulting in the appearance of silver scales that are a bit raised from the skin. 

Both conditions can show up in a variety of locations, but eczema frequently occurs on the inner elbows, behind the knees, and sometimes on the neck, wrists, and ankles. Psoriasis can also strike the elbows and knees as well as the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, face and scalp, and lower back among other places.


Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema typically results from something that has irritated the skin, including detergent, soap, disinfectants, and juices from produce and meat. Allergy triggers like pollen, mold, dust, pets, and some foods can cause it as well. Finally, weather issues like heat and humidity and health situations such as stress, hormones, sweating, and infections may lead to eczema.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disorder. Flare-ups can be triggered by infections and stress, like with eczema, as well as by injuries to the skin such as scratches, sunburns, and vaccinations. Even certain medications like those for bipolar disorder or malaria can bring on an episode.

Age of onset

Though it is possible to get eczema as an adult in conjunction with another health condition, it most commonly strikes babies or young children, and symptoms tend to improve as they age. Sufferers frequently have sensitive, dry skin, and they may have one or more relatives with eczema, hay fever, or asthma.

Psoriasis most commonly appears in people ages 15-35, though it can begin at other ages although it rarely strikes babies. Typically it is linked to serious health ailments like heart disease, diabetes, or depression.

Though there are some differences to help distinguish between eczema and psoriasis, it is important to get a confirmed diagnosis as treatment is ailment-specific. If you are suffering from red, itchy skin, click our request appointment button today, or call us at 805-434-2526 to get started on the road to relief.

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