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Eczema & Psoriasis

There is a common misconception that eczema and psoriasis are the same conditions. Although they are both non-contagious skin disorders, this is not the case as they have significantly different symptoms and causes.

The Difference Between These Two Conditions

Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is indicated by red flaky skin patches along with breaks in the skin and in severe cases symptoms may result in 'crusted over' lesions. Eczema is usually caused and exacerbated by environmental irritants such as detergents, perfumes or other allergens, whereas psoriasis tends to be passed on genetically. One of the worse aspects for suffers of eczema is the itching of the skin and consequently, the uncontrollable urge to scratch thus making the patches of affected skin even worse.

Psoriasis (derived from the Greek word 'psoera' "to itch") affects both sexes equally and appears as reddened, rough and itchy skin covered with scaly flakes. In simple terms, psoriasis is actually an acceleration of the replacement processes of the skin. Normal skin cells mature in around twenty days and drop off the body invisibly where as the cells from a patch of psoriasis complete this process almost ten times as quickly. Common locations for affected areas are the elbows, knees, hands and some outbreaks also affect the scalp. In the worst cases, psoriasis can affect the joints and cause arthritis-like symptoms.

Effective Treatments

Unfortunately, there are no specific cures for either psoriasis or eczema although sufferers of both conditions can be greatly helped by implementing a variety of methods. As with the treatment of any type of condition, the success rate varies from person to person. The following can greatly help sufferers of both disorders:

1. Eating a healthy diet. Adjusting ones diet by both eating and avoiding certain types of foods can be beneficial. Many sufferers have found that cutting out wheat and dairy products from their diet have helped relieve their symptoms.
2. Taking fish oil supplements. A daily dose of a high quality omega 3 fish oil can be extremely good for the skin. Recent studies have shown that 'krill oil' is especially beneficial.
3. Using anti-fungal creams on the scalp and other affected areas can provide short term relief. These can be obtained with a prescription from your doctor.
4. Avoiding Stress. Flare ups in both conditions, especially psoriasis, can be caused by stressful events such as moving house, going to a new college or having problems at work. It is often impossible to avoid these situations but try if at all possible.
5. UVB light treatment. There are two types of light rays, UVB and UVA. UVA rays are the ones than tan the skin and UVB rays are the ones that can be beneficial to the skin. Sufferers of both psoriasis and eczema can benefit greatly from a series of light treatment sessions - or from taking a holiday in a hot and sunny location!

Go to our H-Eczema page