Eczema, Psoriasis or Rosacea: 15 Ways to Tell Which One You Have

By | 27 May, 2016

questionRashes, bumps, itching and redness – these symptoms magically appeared one day and you thought it was just an allergic reaction after cleaning your room – or is it?

The truth is, there are multitude of reasons why you may experience those rashes. It could be a simple reaction to allergens or oftentimes, it could be a sign of a chronic skin condition. When it comes to skin conditions, three names could be responsible: eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. The question is, which one do you have?

Here are 15 ways to help you determine whether those unexplained rashes and red patches are eczema, rosacea or psoriasis.

1. Skin Conditions: Identifying Your Specific Symptoms

detectEczema, psoriasis and rosacea symptoms are similar, which makes it is difficult to pinpoint one from the other. In fact, the differences are often too subtle and hard to detect by the naked eye.

Before you rush to the nearest drug store and ask for a cream for your suspected skin condition, keep in mind that the three skin conditions are different from each other. There are various key factors that will distinguish one from the others such as:

  • Which are is affected on your body.
  • The nature of the rash.
  • Your age at the onset of the rash.
  • Any suspected triggers that led to your rash, itching, bumps or redness.

Once you are able to identify these factors, it will be easier for you to determine the specific and appropriate treatments to minimize the appearance of symptoms. This also ensures that you are giving your skin the right treatment. Remember, though, only your doctor can provide a solid diagnosis, so once you determine what you think it could be, the next step is to take your concerns to your physician to be sure.

2. Defining Your Skin Condition: Eczema vs. Rosacea vs. Psoriasis 

First, let us define what these skin conditions are, so you can understand their differences better.

Understanding Psoriasis

You might remember psoriasis in one of the episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians when Khloe noticed red patches on Kim’s legs. It turns out that it is psoriasis, a type of autoimmune disease wherein your immune system undermines the healthy tissues and cells in your body. This all-too-common condition affects more than seven million people in the United States alone.

In psoriasis, your body produces skin cells faster than the normal ones, which rise to the surface of your skin. Unfortunately, your skin is not able to shed fast enough and pile up on your skin’s surface, hence the red patches on your skin.

The most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, which comes with thick, red patches and topped with silvery-white scale. Aside from this, there are also other forms of psoriasis, which are:

  • Guttate – It comes with small, tear-drop shaped pink spots, which usually appear in your arms, legs and trunk.
  • Pustular – This type of psoriasis are inflamed, red skin covered with pus-filled bumps, which often appear on the palms of your hand and soles of your feet.
  • Inverse – Smooth, red inflamed areas of your skin, which appears within the areas of skin folds like armpit and groin area
  • Erythrodermic – This is a rare form of psoriasis that causes widespread redness, itching, and swelling all over your body. In extreme cases, this type of psoriasis may lead to dehydration, infections and even congestive heart failure.

Getting to Know Rosacea

RosaceaAccording to the American Academy of Dermatology, rosacea is a type of inflammatory condition, which manifests as redness or flushing of the skin. It is a lifelong skin condition commonly seen on your face, although the redness may extend in your ears, chest and back, too.

Rosacea starts as tiny spider veins on your nose and cheeks. Eventually, it develops into papules and pustules, which looks like you have acne. Rosacea also has four sub-types:

  • Ocular Rosacea – It affects your eyes, which becomes red and irritated while your eyelids are swollen.
  • Phymatous Rosacea – This type of rosacea results to thickening of the skin and comes with bumpy texture. This is often concentrated on your nose.
  • Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea – It is often associated with flushing, redness, and visible blood vessels.
  • Papulopustular Rosacea – Aside from the above symptoms, this type of rosacea also comes with acne-like breakouts.

At present, there are approximately 14 million Americans who have rosacea, which is three times more common on women than on men. 

Defining and Entering the Realm of Eczema

If your body starts to itch, then it could be eczema or atopic dermatitis. It is a chronic skin condition brought by hypersensitivity towards various environmental triggers or outside irritants like dust and excessive heat, as well as skin allergies.

Thereafter, patches of dry, irritated, and itchy skin starts to appear all over your body. Your skin is also prone to cracking, which makes bacterial infections a strong possibility.

Now that you know what rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema are, it’s time to distinguish the symptoms among them, which you will learn more about in the succeeding sections. This could be tricky, so make sure you pay attention.

3. Getting to Know You: The Symptoms of Eczema

How will you know if it is eczema or just an ordinary rash? Here is list of symptoms that will tell you whether it is eczema or something else:

  • Red or brown patches, usually in the creases of your arms, neck and legs.
  • Skin itching and irritation.
  • Excessive dryness of your skin.
  • Cracked or scaly skin.
  • Small fluid-filled and pimple-like bumps.

4. Symptoms 101: How Rosacea Looks on Your Body

ocular rosaceaDo you want to know how rosacea looks? The main area you’ll experience it will be on your face. Here are some common symptoms to help you determine if it is rosacea or not:

  • Redness of flushing of your face, usually at the center.
  • Small red lines under your skin.
  • Burning sensations on your face.
  • Slight swelling of your skin.
  • Constant redness that comes with bumps on your skin.
  • Inflamed eyes or eyelids, known as ocular rosacea.
  • A swollen and bumpy nose, a condition called rhinophyma that usually affects men.
  • Thicker growth of your skin.

You might associate rosacea with acne because of the red bumps appearing on your face. Make sure to take note of these symptoms before you use acne treatments on your face, like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Keep reading to learn about the symptoms of psoriasis.

5. Psoriasis Symptoms That Sets It Apart From Eczema and Rosacea

Here are the symptoms that tell you it is psoriasis and not any other skin condition:

  • Scaly, silver patches on your skin.
  • Slightly elevated patches of red, thick, bumpy and dry skin covered with white scales, which are known as plaque.
  • Ridged, pitted or thick nails.
  • Small red spots on your body.
  • Burning sensations on your skin.
  • Itching and tender feelings on your skin.
  • Skin scaling that won’t resolve on its own.
  • Red and swollen skin with pus-filled bumps, which are usually on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet.

Don’t worry. Psoriasis is not contagious like measles or Chicken pox.

Now that you know the symptoms, let’s proceed to the causes and triggers, and other vital information you should know about these three skin conditions.

6. Who to Blame: The Reasons Why Eczema Happens

Given these symptoms, the next factor you need to know about eczema is the why aspect. Are you wondering why eczema happens?

woolThe truth is eczema is a hypersensitivity or response to external and environmental factors. Here are common eczema triggers and causes:

  • Cloth materials like wool or cotton.
  • Excessive heat and humidity.
  • Household irritants like dyes, pollen and dust.
  • Various skin and food allergies.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Harsh soaps and detergents.
  • Rapid changes in temperature.

In other words, anything around you might trigger eczema. Take note of the environmental factors you deal with every day, track any changes in your skin after interacting with any of these factors and do your best to stay away from these environmental triggers.

7. Rosacea Happens: Solving a Skin Mystery

Here’s something you should know about rosacea: the exact cause of this condition is unknown. Some experts look into genes and history in the family as a cause for rosacea. On the other hand, some believe environmental factors could be to blame.

AlcoholAlthough more research is necessary to determine the exact causes, here are some suspected causes of rosacea:

  • Wind, Heat or Cold Temperatures
  • Strenuous Exercise
  • Sunlight
  • Emotional Stress
  • Long-Term Steroid Use
  • Heavy Alcohol Consumption
  • Hot or Spicy Foods and Drinks
  • Dairy Products
  • Medications Like Corticosteroids

bacteriaSome experts also believe that rosacea is an immune response to the following situations:

  • Presence of bacterium in your skin.
  • Germs or bad bacteria in your intestines.
  • Mites living in your skin.
  • A type of protein that usually protects your skin from infections.

Just like eczema, environmental factors also dictate whether or not rosacea will knock on your door. Make necessary changes to minimize the appearance of any of the symptoms.

Read the next section to find out what triggers psoriasis.

8. Meet the Causes: Why Psoriasis is Knocking at Your Door

Experts are looking into genetic factors as a cause of psoriasis; however, not all people with psoriasis have family members who have the same condition.

According to the Journal of American Medical Association, psoriasis outbreaks can be due to the following factors:

  • Cold WeatherSkin Injuries
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Cold Weather
  • Infections
  • Prescription Medications
  • Allergies
  • Poor Diet

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.

9. Age as a Factor: Find Out Who is Affected by What Skin Condition

Whoever said age is just a number might not have had eczema, rosacea or psoriasis.

childhoodHere’s the deal with these skin conditions: age is another factor that will set one apart from the others. This means there are specific age groups that are more prone to a particular skin condition.

Take the case of eczema. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is more of a childhood skin condition. Eczema often begins during childhood, usually before or at the age of five. There are rare occasions where eczema affects adults, as well. The good news is, there is a higher possibility that your child will eventually outgrow this condition.

On the other hand, psoriasis may develop at any age, although this condition usually starts in the teenage years and beyond. The same goes with rosacea wherein there are few cases noted among kids and teenagers. Although rosacea is an adult condition, women between 30 to 60 years old are more prone to rosacea.

10. Area of Concentration: Where You Can Find Eczema, Rosacea and Psoriasis

Aside from the definition, symptoms and age of onset, the area of concentration is another factor you need to look into to determine whether those rashes are eczema, rosacea or psoriasis. This is because, despite the almost similar symptoms, these three conditions have their own designated skin areas where they normally appear.

Eczema can occur anywhere in your body, although it is commonly found on the cheeks and the back of the hands, as well as the various creases and skin folds of your body, like your elbows and neck, top of your arms, and the back of your knees.

On the other hand, rosacea primarily affects the center of your face – your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. It does not appear in your limbs and extremities, although rosacea could spread to your eyes, neck, chest and back.

As for psoriasis, it affects your entire body, although it prefers thicker areas of your skin such as your elbows, palms, legs and soles of your feet. This skin condition could also appear in your scalp, which can be uncomfortable and appear like dandruff. It could also appear on your nails, which makes them pitted, loose and ridged.

11. The Importance of Scheduling a Trip to Your Doctor

The 10 guidelines mentioned above are enough to help you determine whether those red patches on your skin are eczema, rosacea or psoriasis. Still, this doesn’t mean you should solve your skin condition alone, and without the help of a dermatologist.

dermatologistThe truth is, you will need a dermatologist’s help to properly treat whatever skin condition you are experiencing. At the same time, a dermatologist is the best person equipped to properly diagnose those rashes that magically appeared on your skin.

That’s not all. Scheduling a trip to the dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment ensures that you are getting the appropriate treatment plan for your skin condition. Dermatologists prescribe medications to help control these skin conditions, but then they monitor their patient’s progress, adjusting treatment options appropriately.

In other words, schedule a trip to the dermatologist. You may have to see your general doctor first to get a referral. These skin conditions may seem harmless, but it could affect your health, as well as self-image in the long run.

Here is the million dollar question: can you treat any of the skin conditions? The truth is, getting rid of eczema, psoriasis and rosacea is difficult. In fact, these are lifelong conditions that may be hard to eliminate from your system. Still, you can do something to control and reduce your flare-ups and minimize your symptoms, which you will learn more about in the succeeding sections.

12. Addressing the Condition: Treatment Options Available for Eczema

CreamsSkin conditions like eczema or atopic dermatitis can be persistent. Here are the available treatments and drugs to make eczema symptoms more manageable:

  • Creams for Itch and Inflammation – Corticosteroid creams or ointments could help reduce itching and inflammation. However, take it easy on your application because overuse may cause skin discoloration, irritation, and thinning of the skin.
  • Drugs to Repair Skin – There are drugs called calcineurin inhibitors, which control itching, reduces flare-ups, and maintains normal skin.
  • Antibiotics in Case of Skin Infection – Eczema makes you more prone to infections, which is why your dermatologist might offer antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Antihistamines – This helps control itching, especially if the itching is severe.
  • Wet Dressings – It involves wrapping the affected area using topical corticosteroids and wet bandages to control the symptoms.

bathAside from the drugs, regularly applying moisturizer on your skin and taking warm baths could also help make eczema symptoms more manageable and under your control. Avoid extreme temperatures and find relaxation techniques to minimize habitual scratching.

At the same time, your doctor may prescribe prescription medications in severe cases of itching and inflammation to help you get your eczema symptoms under control.

13. Say Goodbye to Rosacea and Stop the Symptoms in Their Tracks

Here’s the truth about rosacea: it stays with you – forever.

Rosacea is an incurable skin condition, which means you have to live with it. At the same time, there is still no approved drug to treat this skin condition. However, you can control and manage your rosacea symptoms.
Check out these tips to help you make rosacea symptoms more manageable:

  • daily journalDetermine your rosacea triggers and do your best to avoid them. You can do this by keeping a daily journal for at least a month, marking down episodes and what you ate or did beforehand.
  • Use products that are suitable for sensitive skin.
  • Try topical treatments like metronidazole, azelaic acid, or ivermectin cream to manage round red bumps and pus-filled swellings on your face.
  • Upon your doctor’s recommendation, take oral medications, especially when the symptoms of rosacea are becoming severe and hard to manage. Oral antibiotics could also help reduce the inflammation of your skin.
  • Keep your eyelids clean.
  • Take oral isotretinoin in low doses to treat rosacea. However, isotretinoin may cause side effects such as headache, muscle or joint pain, dryness, cracking of the skin, back pain and blood in your urine.
  • Use brimonidine tartrate and apply it on your face once a day to restrict dilation of blood vessels on your face. However, common side effects are burning sensation and itchiness in the area where you applied the gel.
  • Consider beta-blockers or clonidine to improve facial redness.
  • laserGo for laser or intense pulsed light or IPL treatment to reduce the visible and dilated blood vessels on your skin.
  • Take into account surgical procedure, which is applicable if you have thickened skin especially in the nose area.

This is why it is important to seek a recommendation from your dermatologist before taking anything. You need to know how much and how often should you use or take these treatments to minimize any serious health complications.

14. Your Psoriasis Treatment: Recommended Tips by Dermatologists

Your specific treatment for psoriasis depends on the following factors:

  • Type of psoriasis
  • Severity of your psoriasis condition
  • Area of the skin affected

Your doctor will start with mild treatment, which often involves the following:

  • Topical Corticosteroids – This blocks the harmful effects of the immune system on your skin. However, you cannot use it on large areas in your skin and may cause skin thinning over time.
  • PhototherapyVitamin D Analogues – It slows down the production of new skin cells.
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors – This reduces the activity of your immune system, thereby reducing inflammation.
  • Coal Tar – This is recommended if psoriasis affected your scalp.
  • Phototherapy – This type of treatment exposes your skin to certain types of UV lights to slow down the production of new skin cells.
  • Systemic Medications – These are oral and injected medications to put a pause of new skin cell production, while reducing harmful activities of your immune system on the skin.

More importantly, prevention is always better than a cure. Read the next section for skin care tips and minimize your flare-ups of any of these skin conditions.

15. Skin Care Tips to Remember Regardless of Your Skin Condition

MoisturizeAside from specific treatments, here are skin care tips you should remember to prevent eczema, rosacea and psoriasis:

  • Moisturize your skin every day.
  • Wear cotton, soft and loose-fitting clothes.
  • Identify your triggers and learn to avoid them.
  • Avoid scratching your skin.
  • If possible, avoid rapid changes of temperature and heavy activity to minimize flare-ups and the appearance of symptoms.
  • Do not rub your skin after bathing.
  • Take lukewarm baths and avoid hot showers as much as you can.
  • Choose your skincare products wisely and accordingly.

Things to Remember

Rosacea, eczema and psoriasis may be lifelong conditions, but this doesn’t mean you cannot do anything to control and manage your symptoms. Before you do, take note of these 15 guidelines to help you distinguish one from the others treat your skin condition properly and accordingly.


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