When a rash occurs, it usually means something has irritated your skin. You might notice a rash in response to touching a certain detergent, metal, or material, for example. Or you might get a rash after exploring the woods and encountering poison oak or poison ivy.
For some people, rashes aren’t just an every-once-in-a-while occurrence. Some rashes indicate a deeper underlying condition that flares up incrementally throughout your lifetime. While you might enjoy long periods of remission with no skin irritation whatsoever, you can almost count on your symptoms’ eventual return.
Virtually Urgent Healthcare is a telehealth-only urgent care practice that serves Georgia, California, Minnesota, and Texas. From a home base in Dacula, Georgia, physician assistant and medical director Rolandine Vaughan, PA-C, MPAS, conducts remote urgent care visits and can examine your rash to determine its cause.
Rolandine routinely evaluates rashes related to eczema and psoriasis. While the two conditions share similarities, there are important distinctions to consider.
Eczema and psoriasis both cause rashes and skin irritation. Additionally, both long-term conditions are related to your immune system and produce inflammation in response.
Eczema appears in around 10% of people at some point in their lives and is the result of a defective moisture barrier. A functional skin moisture barrier keeps moisture in while guarding your skin against harmful or irritating substances. When skin with eczema encounters such triggers, the immune system responds by producing inflammation and itching.
Psoriasis comes affects roughly 3% of the United States population and also involves immune system dysfunction. During psoriasis flare-ups, your skin cells reproduce faster than they fall off, which results in scaly plaques and inflammation appearing in patches.
Both psoriasis and eczema can cause itching and a visibly red rash. Yet, there are observable differences in those rashes as well as their locations. Psoriasis plaques tend to have silvery scales across them while eczema shows inflammation and possible skin cracking.
Eczema rashes tend to be itchier than psoriasis, though many people with psoriasis report mild to moderate itching too. People with eczema report much more severe itching. With either condition, you should avoid scratching your rashes so you don’t break the skin and get an infection.
Inflammatory conditions like eczema and psoriasis often flare up in similar areas. With either condition, rashes can appear on your:
More often, eczema appears on the insides of your elbows or behind your knees than on the protruding parts of those joints.
Another key difference between eczema and psoriasis is that the immune system defect involved with psoriasis can cause symptoms in other parts of your body while eczema is limited to your skin. If you have psoriasis, you might also experience joint pain from psoriatic arthritis which can lead to permanent joint damage without the proper treatment.
A professional evaluation with Virtually Urgent Healthcare can confirm your diagnosis whether your rashes are linked to psoriasis, eczema, or something else. Both conditions can improve once you identify your triggers and take steps to avoid them. You can also treat either condition with:
Psoriasis benefits from natural sunlight as the UV rays can slow the overproduction of skin cells. Eczema will not improve after you spend time in the sun; it can worsen due to overheating and sweating.
If you see or feel a rash and need answers, schedule a remote appointment online or over the phone at Virtually Urgent Healthcare to learn more about the distinction between eczema and psoriasis today.