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3 Tips to Diagnose a Skin Problem - Psoriasis versus Eczema

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Article by Vivienne Savill

3 tips to diagnose a skin problem - Psoriasis versus Eczema

With over 3,000 different types of skin disorders, is it any wonder that identifying which skin problem you have can be difficult - not just for the client, but for health practitioners also.

Of course with that many skin disorders there is sooooo much to know. But here are a few tips to help get you going.

Why is correct diagnosis important?

Without a correct diagnosis treatments such as dietary interventions may not be specific enough. Supplements may be a waste of money or make a skin problem worse. This is because most skin diseases are linked to specific swings of the immune system, specific nutritional imbalances and dietary &/or lifestyle characteristics that can make the skin condition better or worse.

What is actually going on within the skin itself is completely different when it comes to psoriasis and eczema. Eczema for example commonly has IgE antibodies found on the surface, often with infection and skin barrier damage. This compares to psoriasis that has an excessively rapid turnover of skin cells but does not have high levels of IgE antibodies and rarely infection.

So here are 3 tips to help you tell the difference between psoriasis and eczema.

1. Look at where on the body the skin condition is.

Whilst some skin conditions occur on multiple sites on the body, some occur in very specific areas.

For example an atopic eczema generally occurs in the creases of the body especially the backs of knees, ankles, wrists, inner elbow and the neck. More serious eczema can also be widespread affecting most of the body.

This compares to psoriasis that generally occurs on the outside of the elbows and the front of the knees. Psoriasis also commonly occurs on the scalp and sacrum. In more serious cases it can be widespread over other areas of the body also. Its distribution is also symmetrical.

Both psoriasis and eczema can occur on the hands and feet.

2. Does the skin condition have an obvious border ?

Observe whether there is a distinct start and finish to the skins discolouration. Is the skin very red or pink in one area compared to the neighbouring area of skin that is a normal colour? If so, this could be a psoriasis plaque. In psoriasis the area of skin affected is described as being  'well-defined, with salmon-pink or reddish papules'.

This compares to eczema that is described as confluent. Confluent means that the red areas have joined together and small areas of redness have become merged. The affected area is not distinct from one area because the lesions have joined and there is no obvious start or finish. The redness of the eczema seems to fade away rather than have a distinct start and finish.

3. Look for other tell-tale characteristics

The tell tale characteristic of psoriasis is the silvery-white scale that sits on top of the red plaque. This build up of scale can be very thick. The scales usually slough off easily, sometimes leaving visible scale on clothing, lounges, beds or the floor.

The red lesions of psoriasis can also have a drop like appearance.

The tell tale characteristics of eczema or atopic dermatitis are the scratch marks that are frequently seen. Where scratching has occurred there can be crusted lesions. Lichenification, a thickening of the skin can also occur in chronic cases where a lot of scratching has taken place. The skin is typically dry over most of the body.

Healthy Skin Clinic offers an Australia wide skin consultation and skin treatment service. We offer face to face consultations for people living in Darwin or Skype Video Consultations for people living in other parts of Australia.

We are committed to helping our clients identify the cause of their skin disorder as this is the key to long term relief. We also address the symptoms such as itching, to provide rapid relief of the skin condition and improve the skins look and feel.

Healthy Skin Clinics owner brings a wealth of experience and breadth of knowledge to treating skin conditions. She is a trained nurse, naturopath and Formulation Chemist who is skilled at developing individualized treatment programs to rectify most skin issues.


Find out more about our skin treatment service by visiting

3 May 2015

Article/Information supplied by Vivienne Savill

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.