Scalp Eczema vs. Psoriasis – How to know the difference?


Blog, Dandruff | Dr Dhanraj Chavan | May 5, 2023

Scalp eczema and psoriasis are very similar in appearance but there are some basic differences in the two health conditions. Scalp eczema causes patches of dry skin, which may be itchy and inflamed. The size and shape of these patches may change over time. It mostly causes itchiness and irritation of the scalp and the scalp skin gets tender and appears red and flaky. Psoriasis causes a rash with scaly and itchy patches. In this condition, the skin cells multiply faster, leading to a build-up of bumpy, red patches that are covered with white scales. Here we will tell you what is the difference between psoriasis and eczema and give you an overview of the eczema and scalp psoriasis treatments.

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Scalp Eczema vs. Psoriasis: Know the Difference

Scalp Eczema


Scalp eczema is caused by genetic and environmental factors. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, which causes the skin cells to grow fast.
Eczema can affect any region of the skin, but more commonly on hands and legs.  Psoriasis mostly affects the scalp region, the elbows, knees, palms, soles and back. 
Heat exposure causes more sweating, which can lead to a flareup of eczema. Since UV light from the sun (UVB) helps in slowing down the growth of skin cells and reducing immune activity in patches, exposure to sunlight can help relieve psoriasis.
It causes severe itching, and scratching hard may lead to bleeding from the skin. It causes itching along with a stinging or burning sensation.
The skin gets red and inflamed. Rough patches and nail scratch marks may be seen all over the scalp. Red patches caused by psoriasis have silvery scales and may appear thick and raised. 
Use of home based remedies and hair dye are the most common causes. Skin irritants like soaps and disinfectants cause or aggravate eczema. Allergens like dust, pollen, dandruff and certain foods can also lead to eczema.  Risk factors such as stress, infections, injury, medications, etc can trigger autoimmunity and psoriasis.
Scalp eczema can occur at any age. Scalp psoriasis commonly occurs in the age group of 15 to 65.
Scalp eczema treatment includes topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and frequent use of mild shampoos. Certain prescription medicines help relieve moderate to severe itching while medical treatments like light therapy are effective in treating this condition. Scalp psoriasis treatment includes the use of topical and injectable corticosteroids, salicylic acid based shampoos, as also light therapy and medicines.

This was an overview of the differences between scalp eczema and psoriasis. A medical expert can distinguish between the two conditions and tell psoriasis vs eczema from the differences between their symptoms, clinical signs and trichoscopy.

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