Though eczema and psoriasis are essentially different, their symptoms can be similar, and it’s entirely possible to manage them both using the same treatments and methods.
In this piece, we’ll detail some of the methods you can use to ameliorate the discomfort caused by these two unpleasant skin conditions. For more information on the differences between eczema, dermatitis, & psoriasis, see our Skin Health guide.
Keep Your Skin Moisturised
The dryer your skin gets, the more easily it will become damaged, and the more painful it will be. Through applying emollients (moisturisers designed to keep the skin hydrated and flexible) to affected areas of skin on a regular basis, you can effectively mitigate the symptoms of both eczema and psoriasis.
It’s best to apply creams and ointments after showering or bathing to ensure that you maintain maximum protection, and avoid using harsh soaps to clean yourself, as they will serve to draw moisture away from the skin. You should also make sure to apply them as liberally as you feel your skin requires. Moisturising with emollients when you have eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis should normally be done two to four times daily to prevent flare-ups in your condition.
Recognise the Difference Between Creams and Ointments
Emollients include both creams and ointments, but they’re not quite the same, and you’ll want to keep that in mind when treating your skin.
Unlike creams, ointments do not contain any preservatives and are thus somewhat less likely to cause or exacerbate irritation, so you might want to focus on ointments if you have particularly itchy skin. After all, the added irritation might well worsen the issue and make the temptation to scratch it even greater.
They do, however, leave your skin rather greasy. As such, they’re not the best choice for use on occasions when appearance is a priority. It’s generally best to use ointments during downtime and overnight when they can be most useful.
Gels are an option that sit in-between creams and ointments. They offer the deep moisturising properties of an ointment but offer the non-greasy, fast-absorbing properties of a cream. Examples of emollient gels include Doublebase Gel and Adex Gel.
Address Severe Symptoms with Corticosteroids
Whether it’s your eczema or your psoriasis, you’re bound to get flare-ups from time to time, whether caused by stress, dietary habits, or simple misfortune. When they come along, and your usual moisturising routines become ineffective, you can turn to corticosteroids for effective relief of symptoms.
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory, which means they will help slow the build-up of skin cells. Though you can get oral corticosteroids from a dermatologist (tablets to be ingested orally), your best option will be to make use of topical corticosteroids, those being convenient creams and ointments, such as Betnovate or Eumovate.
Unlike emollient creams and ointments, however, topical corticosteroids must be used sparingly. A typical treatment will involve the application of a thin layer to the specific area of skin once (or sometimes twice) per day for around a week.
While they are very potent in general, not all topical corticosteroids are the same. They particularly differ when it comes to strength. This gives you a range of options to consider when addressing your specific symptoms.
Are your moisturisers almost enough but just falling short? A smidgen of a weak corticosteroid, such as hydrocortisone or Eumovate, will probably suffice. Having difficulties with an area of thick skin, such as a sole, palm, or elbow? You’ll need a stronger cream or ointment, such as Betnovate, to achieve the same effect (this also comes in a scalp application which is good for psoriasis of the scalp and hairline).
In particularly bad cases, where neither emollients nor over-the-counter corticosteroids can provide relief, you can be prescribed particularly strong corticosteroids - these will need to be prescribed by your GP or dermatologist. Just keep in mind that they must be used extremely carefully to avoid doing more harm than good.
Where bad inflammation has caused the skin to break, it can also become infected. For mild cases, this is normally treated with Fucibet cream, which contains betamathasone and fucidic acid.
Be Careful About Using Other Medications
If you suffer from a number of conditions and rely on other medications to manage them, you should look into those medications to find out if they are known to have any effect on skin conditions. Certain drugs prescribed to treat heart issues, arthritis, or mental disorders (to list a few) have been found to worsen psoriasis symptoms, and if you absolutely cannot do without other treatments, always remember to ask your doctor if they can find you alternative medicines that won’t clash with your skin problems.
Avoid Perfumes & Additives In Your Skincare
Some skincare products can have a lot of chemicals like perfumes and additives that can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. These can make your eczema and psoriasis worse. It’s a good idea to use hypoallergenic and unperfumed products specially designed for sensitive skin. A good example would be skincare ranges like E45 that you can get at Boots or on the high street.
Stay Active and Healthy
This one is really more of a general point, but it might have the biggest overall effect on your skin. Though maintaining a sensible and varied diet, getting plenty of exercise, and keeping your stress levels down, you can greatly influence the frequency and severity of your skin flare-ups.
And of course (though it almost goes without saying), it’ll work just as well for your psoriasis as it does for your eczema. Perhaps even better, given that psoriasis is a chronic disease and thus will always fluctuate to some extent.
This also extends to protecting yourself from injury, as any further damage to your skin in the form of cuts or scrapes can result in psoriasis flare-ups. In short, protecting your skin from everything else will help to protect it from your existing skin conditions.
If you’re dealing with both psoriasis and eczema (otherwise known as dermatitis), you don’t need entirely separate courses of treatment. There’s a great deal of overlap between the two conditions that will allow you to keep things relatively simple.
If you’re unsure about what will work best for you, make sure to consult a medical professional.