Eczema is a common skin condition that affects more than 31 million people in the United States. It’s most common symptoms are patches of dry, itchy, and sometimes scaly red or pink skin. However, there are other skin conditions that can look a lot like eczema, making it difficult to self-diagnose.
How Do I Know If I Have Eczema?
Because eczema is caused by underlying inflammation, it is common to see patches of red, inflamed skin that are itchy and flaky. These patches often occur on your arms and backs of your knees, but they can show up anywhere on your body or face. Eczema is also common in children and infants and tends to appear on the scalp, face, neck, hands, and feet.
However, there are other common skin conditions such as a fungal infection called ringworm and an inflammatory disease called psoriasis that can have very similar symptoms. Because of this, it is best to see your dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis.
Eczema vs. Ringworm
Ringworm, also called tinea corporis, is a type of fungal infection that causes circular patches of red, itchy skin. These patches are often clear in the center, giving them a characteristic ring shape, but they can also be more solidly-colored. This fungal infection can occur anywhere on the body. When it happens on your feet, it is commonly called “athlete’s foot.” When it occurs in the groin area, it is called “jock itch.”
A specific type of eczema called nummular or discoid eczema closely resembles ringworm. It is characterized by round or oval patches of red, itchy skin that may ooze or become crusty. We still do not know the exact cause of nummular eczema, but, like other types of eczema, it appears to be linked to genetics, as well as underlying inflammation.
Eczema vs. Psoriasis
Eczema and psoriasis are both fairly common inflammatory skin diseases. There are additional health concerns with psoriasis, as those with psoriasis lesions on the skin can develop psoriatic arthritis and are at an increased risk of heart disease, depression, and other conditions. It is important to receive an accurate diagnosis in order to not only effectively treat your immediate symptoms but to also reduce the risk of developing these other health complications.
Eczema and psoriasis both appear on the skin as patches of red, itchy skin and are both very common the elbows and knees. Psoriasis may appear to be thicker than eczema, but this is not always the case. With psoriasis, the skin can sometimes appear to be a silvery color with a scaly texture. Like eczema, there are different types of psoriasis, each characterized by slightly different symptoms.
Children and adults can get both of these conditions. The best way to know for sure if you have eczema or psoriasis is to visit your dermatologist.
I Think I Have Eczema. Now What?
If you think you may have eczema, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. It is best to get an accurate diagnosis so you know that you are treating the right problem. Your doctor can also prescribe you a daily skincare regimen that includes a barrier repair moisturizer to help relieve symptoms and strengthen your skin’s ability to hold onto water and keep irritants out.
You should also avoid fragrances and perfumes in skincare and personal care products, including body lotions, soaps, and laundry detergent. Fragrances can irritate sensitive skin and make your eczema symptoms worse.
Will Eczema Go Away on Its Own?
For some people, eczema can go away over time. This is sometimes the case with pediatric eczema – people can sometimes “outgrow” eczema they had as a child. However, not all cases of eczema will go away on their own, and there is currently no known cure for this condition. Using the proper skincare regimen and avoiding common triggers such as stress, poor diet, and allergens can make eczema very manageable.
You do not want to leave it untreated, however. You can further damage your skin by scratching at these itchy spots and starting a vicious cycle of inflammation.
Eczema can be easily mistaken for other skin conditions and should therefore be evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist to ensure an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. If you would like to schedule an appointment at our Miami office, you can call our office at 305-532-5552 or fill out our online contact form.
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