Distinguishing Psoriasis from Eczema

Distinguishing Psoriasis from Eczema

Distinguishing Psoriasis from Eczema

How does psoriasis start?

Psoriasis typically begins with infections, such as strep throat or skin infections. It can also develop in cold weather when proper skin hygiene is neglected. Initially, it may resemble a skin injury, such as a cut, scrape, bite, or severe sunburn.

At first, small red bumps may appear on the skin’s surface. These bumps can become thicker and larger, eventually developing scales on top. The patches may merge and cover large areas of the skin, causing discomfort, itching, and easy bleeding when rubbed or picked.

Types of psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis

This is the most common type of psoriasis, affecting about 8 out of 10 individuals with the condition. It is medically referred to as “psoriasis vulgaris.” Plaque psoriasis causes inflamed, raised, red skin covered with white, silvery scales. It often appears on the knees, elbows, scalp, and lower back.

Guttate psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis commonly develops in children or young adults and accounts for less than two percent of cases. It causes small, pink-red spots on the body, usually appearing on the upper arms, trunk, thighs, and scalp. While some cases may resolve without treatment, others may require dermatological intervention.

Inverse psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis typically occurs in areas such as armpits, under the breasts, groin, and skin folds around the buttocks and genitals. Symptoms include worsening with friction and sweating, bright red and shiny patches of skin without scales. Common triggers include friction, fungal infections, and excessive sweating.

Pustular psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis is a rare form of psoriasis that primarily affects adults. It causes pus-filled bumps surrounded by red skin, resembling an infectious condition. It can appear on specific body parts or cover the entire body in severe cases, known as “generalized” pustular psoriasis. Prompt medical attention is necessary for severe symptoms, which may include fever, nausea, chills, rapid heart rate, and muscle weakness. Triggers can include certain medications, excessive ultraviolet light exposure, infection, stress, pregnancy, or chemical exposure.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

Erythrodermic psoriasis is the least common but most severe form of psoriasis. It affects large areas of the body, causing widespread, fiery skin that appears burned. Additional symptoms may include a faster heart rate, changes in body temperature, severe itching, peeling, or burning. Medical attention is crucial to prevent severe complications such as protein and fluid loss, pneumonia, infection, or congestive heart failure. Triggers can include allergic drug reactions, sudden discontinuation of systemic psoriasis treatment, infection, severe sunburn, or certain medications.

Nail psoriasis

Up to half of individuals with psoriasis experience nail changes. Nail psoriasis is more common in people with psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms include pitting of the nails, separation from the nail bed, tender and painful nails, chalk-like material under the nails, and color changes (yellow-brown).

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that combines psoriasis and joint inflammation. It typically develops approximately ten years after the onset of psoriasis and affects about 90 percent of individuals with psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms include swelling of the toes and fingers, painful and stiff joints that worsen in the morning and after rest, and warm joints that may appear discolored.

What is the leading cause of psoriasis?

The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown. However, research suggests that genetics and the immune system play significant roles.


Some individuals have inherited genes that make them more susceptible to developing psoriasis. However, only a small percentage of people with psoriasis have a genetic predisposition, accounting for approximately 2 to 3 percent of cases.

Immune system

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own skin cells. Specifically, white blood cells called T cells attack the skin cells, leading to an accelerated production of new skin cells. This excessive production causes the characteristic plaques and inflamed areas associated with psoriasis.

How to treat scalp psoriasis?

If you have mild or temporary scaling on the scalp, it may improve on its own. However, in some cases, treatment may be necessary

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