Atopic eczema, psoriasis and rosacea are conditions affecting the skin. Though they do have some symptoms in common, they're different conditions with different causes.
Atopic eczema is most common type of eczema. It causes the skin to feel dry and irritated. It may also itch, and become red and cracked. The condition is most common on the hands and feet, and in elbow and knee creases. People with atopic eczema often have times when the symptoms are severe (flare-ups), and other times when symptoms settle down. The exact cause is unknown, but it's often triggered by exposure to an irritant or allergen.
Atopic eczema is usually a long-term condition. But most children will see their condition improve or even completely clear up, with time as they get older.
Treating atopic eczema
There's no cure for atopic eczema, but there's a lot you can do to manage the symptoms:
- Aim to identify and avoid 'triggers' that make your eczema worse
- Use an emollient few times a day to keep your skin moisturised, even if you’re not having any symptoms. Your pharmacist can advise on a suitable product
- Your Doctor may prescribe you a topical corticosteroid, a medicine which can be applied directly to the skin to reduce inflammation and irritation during flare-ups
Psoriasis causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin that are itchy and covered with silvery scales. It occurs most commonly on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. Psoriasis can flare up, and then settle down again.
People with psoriasis have an increased production of skin cells. Instead of replacing the skin cells every three to four weeks, the cells are replaced every five to seven days. These excess cells create the skin patches. It's thought to be an autoimmune condition, which means it's caused by your immune system mistakenly attacking your body's own healthy tissue.
If you think you may have psoriasis, see your Doctor. There are many treatment options including creams and ointments, medicines taken orally or by injection, and phototherapy (where your skin's exposed to a controlled dose of UV light).
Psoriasis is a long-term condition, and treatment success can be very individual, so you may need regular reviews.
Rosacea causes the skin of the face to become temporarily red and flushed. You may also experience stinging and spots. Visible small blood vessels and permanent redness can also occur. Rosacea often comes in cycles – growing worse for a time, and then settling down.
It's not known exactly what causes rosacea. It may be due to abnormalities in the facial blood vessels, or an allergic reaction. It's worth keeping a diary of your flare-ups to try to spot patterns and identify your triggers. Rosacea can sometimes be made worse by:
- Exposure to sunlight
- Strenuous exercise
- Extremely hot or cold weather
- Hot drinks
- Certain foods – for example, spicy foods
There's no cure for rosacea, so treatment is aimed at managing the symptoms:
- Avoiding triggers can help reduce the number of flare-ups
- Your Doctor may prescribe creams, gels or medicines such as antibiotics
- Your dermatologist may prescribe or recommend more specialist medicines or treatments
- See your Doctor if you think you may have eczema, rosacea or psoriasis, or if you have any concerns