Tip the Scales on Eczema and Psoriasis
Although often similar in appearance, eczema and psoriasis are two very different types of dermatitis that affect a great number of the world's population today. Both eczema and psoriasis are characterized by distinct skin rashes, but differ in overall severity.
Eczema is an extremely broad term that applies to a variety of skin rashes and irritations, of which symptoms include redness, itching and dryness, flaking, blistering, cracking, and oozing or bleeding.
There are four main types of eczema. Atopic eczema is believed to have a hereditary component, as families that suffer from either hay fever, or asthma tend to be predisposed to it. Symptoms include an itchy rash covering the face, neck, hands, elbows, knees and scalp. Contact dermatitis can either be caused by irritants such as detergents, or allergens such as nickel, and can generally be avoided. Xerotic eczema is dry skin so severe that it becomes eczema, and seborrhoeic eczema is the dry, or greasy scaling of the scalp and elbows.
A diagnosis of eczema is usually based on an evaluation of family history, dietary and lifestyle habits, allergies, the use of prescribed drugs, and exposure to irritating chemicals and materials. Treatments include intensive moisturizers (emollients or aqueous), the elimination of dusts or allergens, anti-itch products, corticosteroids, and or immunomodulators.
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated, genetic disease that manifests on the skin, and/or joints and varies from person to person. Scientists believe that psoriasis triggers the immune system to speed up the production of skin cells at a rate too fast to shed. The skin then builds up and scales, forming lesions on the upper epidermis. Because psoriasis is not the same for any two people, a diagnosis is based entirely upon the physician's examination of the condition.
There are five main types of psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common, and is characterized by the buildup of skin cells and the formation of lesions. Guttate psoriasis exhibits the formation of small, patchy lesions on the body. Pustular psoriasis occurs when the lesions begin to ooze and bleed. Inverse Psoriasis is an intense inflammation of the epidermis. Finally, erythrodermic psoriasis is the rapid shedding of the skin, resulting in chapped, red, and raw skin.
Triggers for psoriasis include emotional stress, skin injury, infections, and an adverse reaction to drugs. Treatments must be individualized because cases are so different, and flare-ups are common. Scientists are, however, close to discovering the exact genetic properties that cause psoriasis. Some treatments include topical creams, phototherapy, photochemotherapy, systemic treatment, and even homeopathic remedies such as oatmeal baths.
Neither eczema, nor psoriasis have a cure yet, but treatments have been proven to minimize the frequency and severity of flares of both diseases.
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