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What’s the Difference Between Eczema & Psoriasis?

Thursday, 5 November 2015  | 

What’s the Difference Between Eczema & Psoriasis?

Eczema and psoriasis both are types of dermatitis, and both can display symptoms of redness, inflammation itchiness and discomfort. This said, there is a difference between the two conditions. Eczema is considered to be more of a symptom than a condition and it usually implies there is another underlying health condition causing the flare-up. It can be triggered by allergies, such as chemicals (in toiletries), wheat, dairy, pollen, mould, pets and house dust mites. Psoriasis is linked to genetics; one in three with the condition having a close relative who also suffers[1]. Psoriasis happens when T-cells in our immune system, mistakenly attack healthy skin cells. Whilst eczema and psoriasis conditions may look similar, the most common type of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis, has silver plaques that form over the top of the redness. Psoriasis can also be aggravated by outside irritants, including the aforementioned eczema triggers.

Emollients & Steroid Creams

Emollient products marketed to treat eczema, of which there are a variety of products - soap substitutes, bath oils and creams, will more often than not contain petrochemicals or ingredients derived from petrochemicals because they are cheap. Even if an emollient is derived from natural sources (such as coconut, jojoba, olive) they are often produced at such high temperatures that all goodness in them - nutrients, antioxidants and essential fatty acids for instance -  is destroyed. Another concern is that these emollient ingredients may be contaminated with substances from the production process, including metal catalyst residues, carcinogens, and petrochemicals[2]. 

Topical relief is offered to eczema and psoriasis sufferers in the form of hydrocortisone and steroid creams. When applied to affected areas they help reduce inflammation and break the itch-scratch-itch cycle. However they are not suitable for long term use as they think the skin and weaken our skin’s own immune system. When looking for a natural alternative, look for products containing  liquorice root. Often known as nature's cortisone, liquorice root reduces inflammation, offering pain and itch relief. 

5 Tips to Help Manage Eczema & Psoriasis

  1. Humidity in the home. Dry eczema conditions and seasonal psoriasis may benefit from a humidifier set to around 35-45% humidity in cold and dry seasons, and a dehumidifier in the hot, humid summer months.
  2. UV. Eczema and psoriasis sufferers should try to get half an hour in the sun each day, with no sun protection on. The sun’s rays can be a great healer for eczema and psoriasis conditions. Be careful though, as sometimes too much UV can lead to flare ups of the conditions, especially in the case of psoriasis. For the shorter winter days, a UV lamp is a good investment as you can easily manage your exposure in the comfort of your own home!
  3. No stress! Stress is often a trigger for eczema and psoriasis conditions. High cortisol levels (our stress hormones) exacerbates inflammation throughout the body, including in the skin.
  4. Go natural! Change your beauty, grooming and cleaning products to natural ones, particularly if you have noticed a link between using a certain product and the irritation flaring up!
  5. Eat well. Be aware of any food triggers -   milk/dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, wheat/gluten, corn and other grains are all common triggers. If you are unsure what is causing your flare ups, the best thing you can do is an elimination diet, removing all of these foods for 30 days and then gradually reintroducing them. Liquorice tea is great for reducing inflammation (yes, it works from the inside too!) and be sure to eat healthful fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and omega-3 rich foods such as oily fish, grass-fed meat and nuts.

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Psoriasis/Pages/Causes.aspx

[2] Stay Healthy. An Organic Guide to Healthy Skin: It’s All in the Ingredients, Northwestern Health Sciences University, accessed May, 15, 2009

Lucy Rose has a wide range of products suitable for people who suffer from Eczema & Psoriasis, so please take a look.