Health Conditions / Skin Health / Eczema

6 People With Eczema Share How They Deal With Winter Flare-Ups

6 People With Eczema Share How They Deal With Winter Flare-Ups

Kayla started wearing sustainable and natural fibers for environmental purposes, but has found her skin tolerates them better too. “I wear more natural fibers in the winter, like cotton, bamboo, and wool, because I notice synthetic materials can really exacerbate my eczema,” she says. While some people experience skin irritation from wool in particular, it works well for Kayla. “I wear a fine merino wool base layer when it’s really cold. I perspire a decent amount—even in winter—so I need something that keeps me warm, is breathable, and dries quickly.”Kayla finds that being choosy about the fabrics she puts against her skin (including bedding, clothing, and sleepwear) can make a big difference. “I use soft microfiber sheets for sleeping,” she says. “I also wear soft, loose clothes and cover up outside, especially when the wind bites.”“I make sure to avoid the specific foods that trigger my eczema.”Despite the fact that eczema is so common, the things that aggravate it and cause symptoms to come on can vary among individuals. For Carolyn S., 39, avoiding her specific triggers is key for keeping winter flares at bay. She’s found that the dry, indoor heat aggravates the eczema on her face, while winter layers paired with indoor heat will cause her to sweat, which also triggers her eczema. Since she can only do so much to control the heating systems in the buildings she’s in, she focuses on the triggers she can control to minimize flares this time of year as much as possible.“I make sure to avoid the specific foods and ingredients that trigger my eczema, which include tree nuts—almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts, as well as nut milks—shrimp, and American-made chocolates,” she tells SELF. “Avoiding those food triggers becomes more important this time of year because of additional triggers, as well as the fact that holiday foods, in general, incorporate all of them.”“I don’t leave the house without lotion.” Most people with eczema will emphasize how using specific skin care products as part of their daily routines is one of the biggest things they do to keep their skin calm and comfortable. Alyssa Bourne-Peters, 25, takes it a step further, making sure she’s never without her lotions.“I don’t leave the house without lotion at all. I will turn back home if I left and forgot to put it in my purse,” she tells SELF. “I just try to keep myself as moisturized as possible so that the dryness is less obvious.”Carolyn also makes sure her favorite moisturizer is always at the ready. “I keep my favorite lotion on hand in all the bathrooms and make sure to immediately slather it on after hand washing or showering,” she says.“I make sure to immediately shower and moisturize after workouts.”Like many other people with eczema, Eliza Gwendalyn, 35, is diligent about showering and moisturizing her skin after working out. As the AAD notes, sweat can be a trigger for eczema flares, and Eliza says she often experiences stinging and irritated skin if she sweats a lot.

7 Tips to Try If Your Eczema Makes You Feel Self-Conscious

7 Tips to Try If Your Eczema Makes You Feel Self-Conscious

“Each time I attended a meeting, and it went well—or at least not badly—I unlearned something, and it turned out that I was unlearning my own thoughts about myself. As it often is, I was my own worst critic,” Ashbridge says. “People still booked meetings with me with or without makeup. I built my business when my eczema was at its worst. The reality was that no one was devaluing me or what I had to say because I had dry, cracked skin on my face. The negative thoughts were all coming from within.”5. Focus on what your body can do.For Doris Espejo, 40, who was diagnosed with eczema five years ago, living with the condition has been especially tough with her career as a nurse.“As nurses, we use our hands for everything, and the constant washing of hands and glove-wearing can aggravate flare-ups,” she tells SELF. “Also, if patients see them they sometimes think it’s something contagious, or will ask what it is.” The thought of making a patient feel uncomfortable or concerned about her cleanliness does a number on Espejo’s self-esteem.Focusing on self-care so she can feel her best overall—which ultimately gives eczema less power over her—has helped a lot. “Exercising has helped me overcome those feelings by focusing on what my body can do rather than its imperfections and just accepting it,” she says.6. Be patient with yourself.For Kira West, 29, who was diagnosed with eczema around age 10, coping with the skin condition as a teen and young adult was tough on her self-esteem. Figuring out what her triggers were, dressing in a way that made her legs comfortable, and, more importantly, recognizing that her flares were temporary, was crucial. She learned to manage her anxiety around flares by reminding herself that they would always pass.“That mental approach helped me to maintain my overall confidence even amidst a flare-up,” she tells SELF. “Flares are not who I am…Managing it and just giving it time and patience honestly helped a lot.”In addition to her doctor emphasizing how common eczema is, as well as having supportive parents, West found peace in realizing she’s not alone. She got to this point by doing online research and engaging in online forums, which helped her feel a lot better about her situation. “As an adult, [I know] no one is going to judge my value as a person on how my skin looks,” she says. “I had to really internalize that and realize it’s true.”7. Lean into positive self-talk.Yuma Haidara, 33, has dealt with eczema on her face and the rest of her body since she was in high school. Haidara covered her body breakouts with clothes, but the eczema on her face was harder to hide.“I hated it. I had so much hyperpigmentation. I kept constantly scratching these bumps on my face, and there was no way to cover it up,” she tells SELF. “Back then there weren’t even shades of foundation dark enough for my skin tone. I hated people looking at me and just knew they were thinking, ‘What’s wrong with her face?’”Haidara, who created her own skinc are products when she couldn’t find anything that worked, has found positive mantras and self-talk to be extremely effective. She keeps a list of 10 positive affirmations on the home screen of her phone, regularly changing them to keep them fresh and relative to where she is in life. Each day of the week has a different affirmation, such as “‘I accept myself unconditionally.’”“No matter the kind of day I’m having, when the affirmation pops up, I stop and repeat it to myself until I no longer feel uncomfortable with saying that statement out loud,” Haidara says. “The words we speak to ourselves are so powerful, even when some days or weeks are harder than others to accept. But over the years, even on my worst days, [they help me to] know I’m beautiful, worthy, and deserving with all my imperfections, eczema included.”Related:

Can You Have Eczema and Psoriasis at the Same Time?

Can You Have Eczema and Psoriasis at the Same Time?

If you have painful skin symptoms that just won’t quit—you know, dryness that leads to obvious cracks, inflammation that just feels awful, or intense itchiness—and you’ve traveled down a rabbit hole via Dr. Google, then you’ve probably come across information on either eczema or psoriasis.These skin conditions are different and complex in unique ways, but their respective lists of symptoms can overlap quite a bit, making them difficult for the average person (read: anyone who’s not a trained dermatologist) to tell apart.If you think that suspicious rash could be a sign of eczema, psoriasis, or maybe even both, here’s some information to help you navigate what you’re experiencing, straight from dermatologists.First, a little bit about how psoriasis is defined.At its core, psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, meaning it’s caused by a glitch in the immune system that causes the body to mistakenly attack healthy skin cells. Because of this immune malfunction, the body overproduces skin cells, which then accumulate and pile up on the skin’s surface, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).Plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the condition, causes raised lesions—often with a scaly appearance with a silver-to-gray plaque, depending on your skin tone—that can manifest anywhere on the body and feel itchy, tender, or even painful.There are various forms of psoriasis, so the symptoms can vary widely. But plaque psoriasis often appears on areas like the elbows, knees, trunk, and scalp, Esther Kim, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, tells SELF. You may even start to feel pain in your joints: When inflammatory arthritis occurs alongside psoriasis, it’s called psoriatic arthritis, Dr. Kim says.Many people with psoriasis experience flare-ups, or periods of time when symptoms become more active. These flares can last anywhere from weeks to months, and there is a range of triggers that can set them off, from infections and illnesses to skin stressors (like cuts and scratches) to changes in weather and stress levels, per the AAD.Like other autoimmune conditions, the root causes of psoriasis aren’t well understood, but researchers believe that both environmental and genetic factors are at play, Dr. Kim says.…and here’s a little eczema 101.Eczema is an umbrella term for a group of skin conditions in which the skin barrier (the outermost protective layer) is damaged, leading to itchy, dry, and inflamed skin, per the AAD. Eczema is broadly referred to as atopic dermatitis, the most common form of the condition, but there are various types of eczema that have different triggers. An eczema rash can look and feel different from person to person but may include small raised bumps, dry or cracked skin, itchiness, and oozing or crusting, among other symptoms that generally signal irritation. “Intense itch is a hallmark of eczema,” Dr. Kim notes. “Because of the itch, patients often suffer from a persistent itch-scratch cycle that can lead to thickening of skin and scratches that render the skin prone to superficial skin infections.”

What Is Your Skin Barrier and How Do You Repair It?

What Is Your Skin Barrier and How Do You Repair It?

Here’s a little riddle for ya: What has more than 1.7 billion (yes, with a “b”) views on TikTok, plays a role in conditions ranging from acne to eczema, and is currently all the rage when it comes to skin care products? If you guessed the skin barrier—congratulations, you are correct.Unlike some other trending skin care topics, the skin barrier is a very real thing, and one that plays an integral role in healthy skin function, according to the experts SELF spoke with. We’ll get to the specifics in a moment, but the skin barrier is well, exactly what it sounds like—a protective layer that’s responsible for keeping the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.A variety of factors can take a toll on this skin shield of sorts—it’s why #skinbarrierrepair videos are also racking up millions and millions of views on TikTok and allegedly barrier-repairing products are all over the place. Here, top dermatologists explain exactly why you should care about the skin barrier and how to tell if yours needs a little extra TLC.What is your skin barrier, anyway?“In the simplest terms, it’s the skin’s protective layer,” Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, tells SELF. “Our skin is what protects our body, and the skin barrier is what protects the skin.” Technically speaking, this protective layer is called the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis.1To get a better sense of how the stratum corneum functions, it might be helpful to picture a brick wall: “The ‘bricks’ are cells called corneocytes, which are held together by the ‘mortar,’ a mix of lipids including fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides,” Robyn Gmyrek, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Derm in New York City, tells SELF. This “brick wall” creates a barrier that prevents harmful bacteria, chemicals, irritants, and allergens from getting into the skin, while simultaneously locking in necessary hydration, Dr. Gmyrek explains.What kinds of things can affect the skin barrier?Really, the question should be what doesn’t affect it. A bunch of internal and external factors can damage or weaken the stratum corneum, according to the dermatologists we talked to. For example, some people are naturally deficient in filaggrin, a protein that strengthens the skin barrier, making them more predisposed to dryness and irritation, Dr. Gohara says.2 (More on other signs that your skin barrier isn’t in great shape in a sec.) Externally, many grooming and skin care routines can also change and damage it, such as using harsh soaps, over-exfoliating, taking extra-hot showers, and waxing, she adds. “Environmental factors can also weaken the skin barrier, including low humidity and dramatic temperature changes,” Naana Boakye, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Bergen Dermatology in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, tells SELF.3 All of the above can alter and deplete those aforementioned lipids, that “mortar” in between the cells. Essentially, that brick wall that was once solid can start to develop cracks and crevices.

5 People Share the Emotional Side of Living With Severe Eczema

5 People Share the Emotional Side of Living With Severe Eczema

Whether you’ve experienced it or know someone who has, chances are you’ve heard of eczema, a group of disorders that can cause painfully dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. That’s because eczema is extremely common—an estimated 10% of people in the US are impacted by some form of it.Those who have suffered through severe eczema know that living with the condition can go well beyond the physical side of things. Dealing with unrelenting eczema—the constant pain, the anger at your own body, the stress of trying treatment after treatment, and, ultimately, the stigma tied to visible skin symptoms—is often accompanied by an emotional burden that can trigger the development of anxiety and depression.1To shed light on what this can really feel like, SELF asked five people to share the emotional side of living with severe eczema—and how they’ve been able to relieve it on some level, even if they’re still working on finding a treatment plan that works for them.“When it was at its worst, it was incredibly hard for me to deal with the anxious feelings.”Pam Moore, 43, experienced severe eczema from when she was a toddler until she was in her 30s. If her eczema was acting up in places that were more visible, such as her upper lip, it made her feel a swirl of embarrassment and shame. (She hasn’t experienced an eczema flare in a while and partially credits moving to a cooler, drier climate.)“When it was at its worst, it was incredibly hard for me to deal with the anxious feelings it would bring up, wondering what other people thought, if it looked like something was really wrong with me, and if I just looked gross,” Moore tells SELF.The emotional stress Moore experienced as a result of her eczema symptoms also trickled into other aspects of her life, such as being physically active, which Moore, who is also a certified personal trainer, is especially passionate about.“Once I was driving to the trailhead to do my long run when I was training for a marathon in my 20s and was so excited to run in new, beautiful scenery. But I remember [feeling so anxious and] distracted because the eczema on the backs of my knees was itching so badly and the heat and the sweat were making it worse.”To help her get through the feelings of self-consciousness, Moore has tapped into coping tools she has learned in therapy over the years. “One thing I try to remember any time I’m self-conscious of anything related to my appearance is that whatever I’m worried about is absolutely not the most important thing about me,” she says. “I can have the thought ‘I wish X,Y,Z thing about my appearance were different and now I’m moving on’ or ‘I wish X,Y,Z thing about my appearance were different and I’m not focusing on that right now because I am so much more than that one thing about my appearance.’”“It’s never fun to rearrange my schedule at the last minute for this.”For Amy Gorin, 40, who was diagnosed with eczema as an infant, her severe eczema has made certain aspects of life that would normally be fun and carefree actually quite stressful.

Is Eczema Contagious?

Is Eczema Contagious?

Living with eczema means you’re very familiar with the challenges of having inflamed, itchy, dry skin. What you might not expect is the jarring stares and the self-conscious feelings that may pop up when you have a visible flare-up on your skin. Maybe you’ve even fielded your share of inappropriate questions, like, “Is eczema contagious?”Unfortunately, sometimes people do assume this skin condition is transmissible and act with that in mind, Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City–based board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, tells SELF. “They see someone with a rash and stay away for fear that they will catch it,” he says.“This societal misconception is at least partially rooted in history,” Jeffrey M. Cohen, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, tells SELF. “Before doctors had the ability to tell the difference between contagious and non-contagious rashes, there was concern that touching a rash could result in the spread.”As it turns out, though, that’s completely unnecessary. Here’s what you should know.First, let’s dig into the basics of what eczema is.Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, has the capacity to make your skin itchy, inflamed, and basically as dry as the sands of hell. Common symptoms include thick, cracked, scaly skin and red or brownish-gray patches that can show up anywhere but are most likely to develop on your hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, and inside the bends of your elbows and knees, according to the Mayo Clinic. Eczema can also manifest as weepy little bumps that might get all crusty when you scratch them, and the scratching itself can leave you with raw, tender, swollen skin.If you have eczema, you might experience flare-ups of your symptoms sandwiched in between periods when your skin doesn’t bother you much. While eczema can be manageable, mainly through moisturizers to combat itching and drugs to fight inflammation and infections in open sores or cracked skin, there’s no cure for the condition.Because of the visible-to-everyone nature of eczema, living with it can be very stigmatizing, Matthew Lewis, MD, MPH, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, tells SELF. “It can be embarrassing for people to be out in public with rashes on their skin that others mistake for a contagious infection, especially for younger people like kids and teenagers.”Back to topSo is eczema contagious or not?Though researchers don’t yet know all the reasons someone may develop eczema, they are certain it’s not contagious. Let’s just reiterate: “Spending time with or touching someone with eczema cannot give you eczema, and there is no way for the condition to spread from one person to another,” says Dr. Cohen.What they do know is there’s likely a genetic link, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. In an older study, researchers identified several altered genes which may change the way the skin or immune system functions in people with eczema.1 At its core, eczema comes down to a problem with a person’s skin barrier, which is meant to offer protection from outside threats like bacteria, irritants, and allergens, according to the Mayo Clinic. The skin’s loss of barrier function, which is essentially the “glue” of the skin, makes it more prone to dryness. And dry, weakened skin can cause the immune system to activate in a person with eczema, which can lead to inflammation when they are exposed to their unique triggers, says Dr. Lewis. That said, it’s important to also note that inflammation isn’t spreadable. “You can have skin that’s inflamed without truly being infected [by something contagious],” he says.

Here’s How to Tell Psoriasis Apart From Other Skin Conditions

Here’s How to Tell Psoriasis Apart From Other Skin Conditions

Eczema can cause pink to brownish-gray patches of inflamed skin, depending on your skin tone, especially on your hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, and around the elbows and knees. One thing to keep in mind: “Eczema is more commonly found on the inside of the knees and elbows,” Dr. Wassef says. “Psoriasis is more common on the outside of the elbows and knees.”Those rashes are a little different from what you’d see compared to, say, plaque psoriasis, board-certified dermatologist Ife J. Rodney, MD, founding director of Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics and professor of dermatology at Howard University and George Washington University, tells SELF. Psoriasis tends to be more raised and can have that silver or grayish scale on top of the irritation. While both eczema and psoriasis can cause itching, the latter can also be painful, Dr. Rodney says. A stinging or burning sensation is also common with psoriasis.The main triggers also tend to be different. Eczema triggers, per the AAD, tend to be irritants or allergens that touch the skin and set off a reaction, like certain foods or ingredients in skin-care products and soaps. In this case, it’s common for the rash to just show up in the one affected spot, Dr. Rodney points out. Psoriasis triggers aren’t as cut-and-dry; flares are typically related to stress, weather changes, illnesses and infections, skin injuries, and certain medications, according to the AAD, but contact with irritating substances may worsen affected areas as well.Psoriasis vs. hivesHives are raised, itchy bumps that can form on your skin in response to a trigger, like an allergen or an infection, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI). While you probably won’t confuse plaque psoriasis with hives, the differences are a little less clear when it comes to guttate psoriasis, since this type of psoriasis shows up as tear-drop-shaped, inflamed lesions that can look similar to hives.However, there are a few differences in the look and feel between guttate psoriasis and hives. “Hives usually start and end within 24 hours, while psoriasis can last for weeks and months,” Dr. Wassef says. Hives are also “very itchy” and can get more swollen when you scratch, she adds, which isn’t usually the case with guttate psoriasis.Guttate psoriasis also usually follows an upper respiratory infection like strep throat, according to Mount Sinai experts, and the bumps tend to be scaly. Hives, on the other hand, tend to resemble swollen bug bites, per the ACAAI.Nail psoriasis vs. fungal infectionIf one or more of your nails start to become discolored, lift up from the nail bed, or even appear crumbly, it’s easy to think you might have some kind of fungal infection. But all of those can be signs of nail psoriasis as well, which the AAD says about half of people with plaque psoriasis will experience at some point. Both conditions can appear quite similar, but there are a few differences. With nail psoriasis, “the nail can develop pitting, stripes, and become so brittle that they crumble,” Dr. Rodney says, but there often isn’t as noticeable discoloration. With a fungal nail infection, the entire nail will often turn yellow or brownish. Fungal infections can also be stinky, per Dr. Rodney.

Here’s How to Care for Your Eczema in the Summer

Here’s How to Care for Your Eczema in the Summer

In theory, summer days are supposed to be spent basking in the sun (with SPF, obviously), taking a nap, having a barbecue, and hitting the beach—not itching, sweating, and itching some more. But the latter is probably your reality if you experience severe eczema symptoms in the summertime.Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is an umbrella term used to describe a group of chronic skin disorders that cause recurring itchy rashes that affect people of all ages, skin types, genders, and ethnicities, Monique Chheda, MD, board-certified dermatologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, tells SELF. And it’s quite common: Approximately 31 million people in the U.S. have eczema, according to the National Eczema Association.For some people, the increased moisture in the air and sunlight that come with warmer weather can bring relief to eczema symptoms, as opposed to the biting winter air that tends to dry out the skin and trigger flare-ups. But for other people, too much sun, heat, humidity, and sweat, as well as seasonal allergens like pollen, can aggravate eczema, Dr. Chheda says. Say hello to itching, burning, and pain—not exactly the hallmarks of a relaxing summer vacation.So, what can you do to cut back on flare-ups when the heat hits? You’ll need tons of sunscreen, for one. Then, consider the tips below to keep your eczema symptoms under control this summer.Wash your face with a gentle cleanser each day.First, make sure your cleanser is gentle enough for your sensitive skin, but effective enough to wash away any sweat the heat and humidity may cause, Carla T. Lee, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells SELF. You don’t have to spend tons of money on a cleanser—a drugstore option will do for your morning and night cleanse.The National Eczema Association recommends a cleanser without fragrance and with a low pH, which better complements the skin’s natural pH. The best way to find something that meets these parameters? Look for “soap-free” and “pH-balanced” and/or the National Eczema Association seal on the packaging, or search the product directory on the association’s website.Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.A strong daily moisturizer is an eczema essential, regardless of the season. It can keep your skin barrier healthy and hydrated, Dr. Chheda says. In a body moisturizer, she recommends soothing, healing ingredients like ceramides and colloidal oatmeal.For your face, Jami Miller, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, suggests opting for a light cream or lotion with an active ingredient like hyaluronic acid, a humectant that draws water in to hydrate the skin. Also, avoid skin-care products with fragrances, as they can possibly cause flare-ups for some people with eczema.Turn to prescription topical steroids.The top-line treatments to calm itching, inflammation, and redness are topical steroids, which come in different strength levels in the form of a cream, ointment, lotion, or spray. “In the summer, people don’t typically like to use a thick, greasy ointment, and we might change the particular formulation to a lighter cream,” Dr. Chheda says.

A Painful Breakup Triggered My Eczema—Here’s How Self-Care Helped Me Heal

A Painful Breakup Triggered My Eczema—Here’s How Self-Care Helped Me Heal

Abby Tai, 35, of Toronto, was diagnosed with eczema as a young child. When she was 15 years old, an emotional breakup triggered a severe flare that covered most of her body. Several doctors said they had never seen eczema as severe as Tai had and nothing seemed to help—that is until she started to address her mental health. Now Abby is a wife, mom, and a registered holistic nutritionist, as well as a patient advocate who cultivates a blog, podcast, and social media community called Eczema Conquerors. Her symptoms are well-managed, but she is still processing the impact that living with eczema has had on her mental health. Please note this story mentions suicidal ideation. If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, you can get support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting HOME to 741-741, the Crisis Text Line. This is Abby’s story as told to health writer Kathryn Watson.When I was 15 years old—a Canadian living with my parents in Hong Kong—my life was every teen’s dream. Though I’d had moderate eczema since I was a baby, my symptoms didn’t keep me from enjoying an active social life, hanging out with friends, and even having a boyfriend. But when that relationship ended unexpectedly, everything began to change.I was devastated by the breakup. We were young, but I’d considered the relationship to be a serious one, and I thought we were in love. The emotional pain I was in started to show up in a very visible way. My skin erupted in eczema rashes that covered 95% of my body. The rash on my legs was so red that it resembled a burn. The itching was so persistent that I could barely sleep. When I did manage to sleep, I would wake up with blood and skin flakes covering the sheets.As time passed, the pain from the breakup began to subside, but the eczema stuck around. The rest of my teen years would be defined by constant doctor’s visits, failed attempts at treatment, and lonely nights spent praying for God to heal me. Other kids were enjoying their youth and living life. I felt like every day, I was just trying to survive.Like many people with eczema, I started to avoid social situations because I felt so self-conscious about my skin. The feelings of isolation became so unbearable that I battled suicidal ideation. There were times that I just couldn’t be around other people. I was in so much pain and struggling with the crushing embarrassment that comes along with eczema. So instead, I just hid.In the 20 years since that first flare, I’ve had ups and downs with my eczema symptoms. But I don’t hide anymore. In fact, I run a blog and a social media community where I share photos of my skin and talk openly about treatment strategies. What’s different now is that I’ve worked hard at finding a way to keep my mental health in balance, even when my eczema is visibly flaring. Here’s what worked—and still works—for me.I leaned into affirmations.A version of mirror exposure therapy really helped me get past the worst of my self-consciousness. Mirror Work, as framed by self-help author Louise Hay, involves looking into the mirror and saying three simple words of affirmation—phrases like, “you are loved,” “you are accepted,” or “you are forgiven.”

Psoriasis Vs. Eczema: How to Tell Them Apart

Psoriasis Vs. Eczema: How to Tell Them Apart

If you’ve got itchy, discolored, and flaking patches of skin, it’s natural to be a bit concerned about what’s causing those symptoms. And while it’s always best to book an appointment with a dermatologist when new skin symptoms crop up, it’s inevitable that you’ll be doing a little bit of self-diagnosis (hello, internet research rabbit hole), and likely doing a psoriasis vs. eczema comparison.Psoriasis and eczema are two fairly common skin conditions, and both cause symptoms of itching and visible inflammation. These two conditions also share a few other similarities: They’re both chronic, which means symptoms are managed, not cured, and both can be triggered by genetics and environmental factors.That being said, the treatment options and long-term management of psoriasis and eczema are quite different. So, it’s important to know for sure which one you are dealing with. “Both eczema and psoriasis cause inflamed, scaly areas on the skin, and to the untrained eye, they can look similar,” Alan J. Parks, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Columbus, Ohio, tells SELF.SELF spoke with several board-certified dermatologists to lay out the difference between eczema and psoriasis.What are psoriasis and eczema, exactly?Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that affects about 7.5 million Americans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It happens when your skin cells go through their life cycle more quickly than normal. Typically, it takes about a month for skin cells to regenerate, but in people with psoriasis, this cell-turnover process happens every three to four days, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The buildup of new skin cells results in flaky scales on the skin’s surface.Eczema is much more common than psoriasis, affecting between 2 and 10% of all adults.1 Eczema causes patches of dry, itchy skin that tend to turn into a rash when you scratch or rub it. These patches are prone to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. That’s because, at its core, eczema is tied to a gene variation that affects the skin barrier and its ability to protect your skin from everything from bacteria to irritants and allergens. Eczema flares are triggered by environmental and lifestyle factors, such as irritating skin care products, dry skin, and stress. The main symptom of eczema is itchy, flaky skin, but people who have eczema as children are more likely to develop asthma and environmental allergies.Back to topWhy are eczema and psoriasis sometimes mistaken for each other?Eczema may sometimes be mistaken for psoriasis because it causes a painful, itchy rash that may even appear raised. To the untrained eye (or anxious self-diagnoser), this might make an eczema patch look like a psoriasis plaque.Psoriasis and eczema aren’t likely to be confused by a trained dermatologist, though, Azeen Sadeghian, MD, FAAD a board-certified dermatologist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, tells SELF. But she notes that there are some exceptions. “Some cases are challenging because the eczema patches have become thickened enough to resemble psoriasis,” she says. Experts call this thickening “lichenification.”It’s tempting to think of eczema as “psoriasis light,” which will eventually worsen and become psoriasis. But eczema will not develop into psoriasis. They are two separate conditions, with separate underlying causes. However, it is possible to have both eczema and psoriasis. This condition is called eczematous psoriasis, sometimes known as PsE, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.2Both psoriasis and eczema cause redness on lighter skin tones. If you have darker skin, that redness might look more like brown or purple discoloration. These differences can sometimes lead to a misdiagnosis, or a delay in the time it takes to get a proper diagnosis, according to the National Eczema Foundation. “It might be harder to perceive redness or what we call erythema because of the pigment of the skin,” explains Dr. Sadeghian. She also points out that psoriasis can rev up the pigment production in skin of color, causing darker plaques.The National Psoriasis Foundation notes that a delay in diagnosis can mean people with darker skin tones aren’t able to take advantage of early treatment options. Research is still underway to understand how to best identify psoriasis in people with darker skin tones.Back to topWhat is the age of onset for psoriasis vs. eczema?One big difference between eczema and psoriasis is the age of diagnosis. Eczema is commonly found in children, many of whom grow out of their symptoms or see a severe reduction in symptoms as they age. That doesn’t really happen with psoriasis.

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