Though eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin are three distinct conditions, they do share some symptoms. This means it can sometimes be tricky to identify which skin issue you’re dealing with. Knowing how to tell these conditions apart is an important first step towards effective skin care on your journey to healthy, glowing skin.
Let’s start with a breakdown of each skin condition and its symptoms.
Eczema is an umbrella term for a group of inflammatory skin conditions that cause itchy, inflamed, and rash-prone skin. There are 7 types of eczema, including atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis . The precise cause of eczema is not well understood, although researchers know that a person may develop eczema because of a combination of genetics and environmental or lifestyle triggers. Also, eczema often starts in early childhood.
Eczema symptoms include:
- Inflamed, reddened, or discoloured skin
- Sensitive, dry skin
- Rough, leathery or scaly patches of skin
- Swollen areas
- Oozing or crusting
While eczema doesn’t have a cure, this condition can be successfully managed with the right approach. Some of the best things you can do to manage eczema include knowing and avoiding your triggers and developing a daily gentle cleansing and moisturising routine.
Psoriasis refers to a chronic autoimmune condition where the skin’s production process is out of balance. Specifically, skin cells regenerate too quickly, causing an uncomfortable buildup of skin flakes, or “scales” on the surface of the skin. Though there are 5 types of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis is the most common . Like eczema, the precise cause of psoriasis is unknown, though a dysfunctional immune system and genetics are known to play a role . Unlike eczema, psoriasis usually starts when a person is between their teens and 30s .
Typical plaque psoriasis symptoms include:
- Inflamed and reddened skin
- White or silver scales on top of reddened skin
- Dry, sensitive, or sore skin
- An itching or burning feeling around affected skin areas
- Painful, swollen joints
- Pitted nails
Like eczema, psoriasis symptoms often intensify after a trigger, so knowing and avoiding your triggers is key to successful management of this condition.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably noticed that dry skin is itself a common symptom of eczema and psoriasis. While this is true, dry skin can also occur on its own. Some people naturally have a drier skin type, while others may experience dry skin seasonally or as a reaction to certain irritants. Though you’ll probably know if you have dry skin, here are some common tell-tale signs:
- A feeling of skin tightness
- Ashy skin
- Flaking, cracking, or peeling
- Skin that looks or feels rough to the touch
The good news is that, as long as your dry skin isn’t caused by an underlying condition, you can easily manage your skin and ease dryness with the right skincare habits. Specifically, dry skin can benefit greatly from a high-quality moisturiser. It’s also important to be gentle with your skin and avoid overwashing, which can further dry out and irritate your skin. Since dry skin tends to be seasonal, you might find the following articles on winter skincare and summer skincare useful.
Similarities & Differences
Let’s end with a recap on how eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin are similar, and how they’re different. The good news is that none of these skin conditions are contagious! Also, all three can be successfully managed with the right habits (such as avoiding triggers). Eczema typically starts in childhood, appears in red patches, and feels intensely itchy. Psoriasis, on the other hand, often starts in the teen years, looks red with silvery scales, and feels itchy with a stinging or burning sensation. Dry skin feels tight, rough, and sensitive.
Eczema and psoriasis can be cyclic, with periods of less intense symptoms punctuated by flare-ups with more intense symptoms. Flare-ups usually occur after a certain trigger, such as stress, a dietary change, or exposure to environmental factors and irritants. Dry skin can be due to natural skin type, but can also be seasonal.
While consulting a medical professional is the best way to know for sure which condition you have, hopefully this article has made you more confident in telling apart eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin. Check out our blog articles on holistic skincare for some additional tips to help you on your journey towards healthy, feel-good skin!
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