What to do when dry, itchy skin turns into a skin disease

What to do when dry, itchy skin turns into a skin disease

It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, dry skin is a concern for many Americans. But how do you know when that dry skin turns into a skin disease like psoriasis or eczema?

August is Psoriasis Awareness Month, a good time to understand what is causing that red, itchy rash on your body.

Psoriasis is a skin disease that commonly appears on the elbows, knees, scalp and the main trunk of our body. It produces itchy, scaly patches that may be painful, interfere with your sleep or make it hard to concentrate. Psoriasis does not have a cure and is considered a common and chronic long-term disease.

When you have psoriasis, the disease usually goes through a cycle that lasts for a number of weeks, even months, and then calms down for a while. People who are more likely to get psoriasis may see its onset after cuts, burns, infections, excessive alcohol consumption or even some kinds of medications.

Common signs and symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • A patchy rash that may not look the same on other people. The range of what psoriasis can look like goes from small, dandruff-like scaling to large patches over much of the body
  • Dry, cracking skin that may produce different colored scales, even bleeding
  • Itching, burning sores

Fortunately, psoriasis is not contagious. Scientists believe that both environmental factors (where you live, etc.) and genetics play a part in contracting the disease.

Comparing Psoriasis to Eczema

Eczema is also a skin disease and may sometimes look similar, but there are many differences between it and psoriasis.

Feeling

Eczema causes an intense itch that may get so bad that you scratch enough to make your skin bleed.

Psoriasis causes an itch, but your skin may also sting or burn.

Appearance

Eczema makes your skin inflamed and red. It can cause swelling and can be scaling, oozing, or crusty.

Psoriasis also causes red patches that may be raised. Your skin is often thicker and more inflamed than eczema.

Timing

Eczema usually starts when someone is a baby or young child. Symptoms often improve with age.

Psoriasis usually starts between the ages of 15 and 35, but you can get it at other ages.

Location

Eczema often shows up on parts of the body that bend – inner elbow, behind your knees, ankles, etc.

Psoriasis can show up on these same places but also on our palms, lower back, soles of feet, eyelids, etc.

Treatments for Psoriasis and Eczema

Treating eczema depends on the severity of the condition. For mild to moderate cases, use a topical corticosteroid and use an oil/cream-based moisturizer on your skin. Don’t use a water-based emollient as it will dry your skin out more. For severe cases of eczema, consult with your doctor.

Treating psoriasis depends on if it is localized to a specific area or systemic across your entire body. You may be able to control it with a topical corticosteroid and emollients.

If you have any questions, consult with your healthcare provider.