Maybe you're in your easy chair settling down for a little Sunday siesta. Or you're heading out the door for a day of fun in the sun. Either way, you stop and pause, because you've got an itch that just won't leave you alone -- along with blotches of red on your skin. What gives?
How It Feels
Eczema causes an intense itch. It can get so bad that you scratch enough to make your skin bleed.
If you have psoriasis, you also could be itchy, but there's something extra going on. Your skin may sting or burn. Some people say it feels like you're getting bitten by fire ants.
What It Looks Like
Eczema makes your skin red and inflamed. It may be scaly, oozing, or crusty. You may see rough, leathery patches that are sometimes dark. It can also cause swelling.
There are some things that are similar in the way psoriasis appears. You may have red patches. They may be silvery and scaly -- and raised up high. But if you look closely, the skin is thicker and more inflamed than eczema.
Where It Shows Up
Eczema often appears on parts of your body that bend, like your inner elbow or behind your knees. You can have it on your neck, wrists, and ankles. Babies sometimes get it on their chin, cheeks, scalp, chest, back, arms, and legs.
Psoriasis often shows up on places like your:
- Scalp and face
- Lower back
- Palms of your hands
- Soles of your feet
You may also have patches on other areas, such as:
What Triggers It
Eczema is often brought on by things that are irritating to your skin, like:
- Juices from produce or meats
Things that cause allergies can also set off eczema, like:
Infections can start up eczema, and so can stress, sweating, heat and humidity, and changes in your hormones.
Psoriasis shares some of these triggers, like stress and infection. But you can also get flare-ups when your skin is injured, for example by:
What Age Does It Start?
Most people get eczema when they're babies or young children. Often, symptoms improve when a kid becomes a grown-up.
It's less common, but possible, to get it as an adult. When that happens it's usually because you have another condition like thyroid disease, hormone changes, or stress.
Psoriasis, on the other hand, usually shows up between ages 15 and 35. But you can get it at other ages too. It's rare for a baby to have it.
Conditions It's Linked To
Whether it's psoriasis or eczema, your doctor can recommend ways to get relief for either problem.