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What Is the Difference between Psoriasis and Dermatitis?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Two health conditions called psoriasis and dermatitis both affect the skin, but they are different in many ways. The two conditions are typically caused by different issues, as dermatitis is usually caused by a factor outside the body while psoriasis is due to an issue within. Also, psoriasis and dermatitis tend to look different on the skin, as the former usually causes silvery scales on top of the red rash that is more characteristic of dermatitis. Additionally, while both may be difficult to get rid of, and may even be considered lifelong, the treatment is usually different for each one.

Dermatitis, which usually takes the form of eczema, is most often caused by exterior factors, such as contact with an irritant. Once there is no more contact with the irritant, the condition should clear up for the most part with some treatment, though susceptibility to dermatitis is hereditary and lifelong. On the other hand, psoriasis is caused by the immune system attacking the body from within, though it is usually triggered from time to time by stress, some medications, and infections. Therefore, psoriasis and dermatitis tend to have different causes.

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Both conditions usually involve the skin turning red in the affected area, but psoriasis also results in silvery scales forming on top of the red rash. The scales flake off over time, sometimes causing bleeding underneath, while the biggest complaint about a rash caused by dermatitis is that it itches and becomes inflamed. Scratching either type of rash too much can result in thick, tough skin that is prone to infection, especially when dermatitis occurs near the eye, since pink eye and other complications can result.

Not surprisingly, there are different treatments available for psoriasis and dermatitis, though they do have a few aspects in common to help heal the skin. Psoriasis is best treated with topical products that contain tar, as well as corticosteroids, which are also a common treatment for severe cases of dermatitis. Both conditions can also be treated by exposure to the sun, so this is one of the few occasions where physicians actually recommend ultraviolet light exposure in controlled amounts. Serious cases of dermatitis usually clear up over time using antihistamines to fight allergens, once contact with the irritant is discontinued, of course. Additionally, there are certain creams developed that work to keep the skin hydrated, and some even contain a steroid to assist the skin in healing from dermatitis quickly.

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literally45
Post 3

I know that there are different types of psoriasis and dermatitis, so it might bot be good to generalize. But from what I know of these two conditions, psoriasis is the more serious of the two. Psoriasis is a skin disease, a disorder that's not very common and is difficult to treat.

Some forms of dermatitis can be serious and long-term too, but for the most part they are temporary conditions that are caused by allergens. They can be treated and prevented by avoiding the allergens. This is not the case with psoriasis. Psoriasis is genetic and once it shows up, it usually keeps coming back.

bear78
Post 2

@burcidi-- It does sound like dermatitis. I have psoriasis and your symptoms don't match mine. I have red patches on my scalp extending down to my face with scales. I also have these patches on my knees and elbows. They itch and hurt.

Your symptoms sound more like allergic contact dermatitis or seborrheic dermatitis.

burcidi
Post 1

I have white flakes on my palms. My skin is not red or itchy, it just feels very dry and is covered in flakes. This is dermatitis right? It's not psoriasis?

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