Thursday, December 25, 2008

Is It Eczema or Psoriasis?

How to ease the scaling of psoriasis? How to prevent itching of psoriasis? What is a good home remedy for itchy skin? What is the best soap for itchy skin?

The right answers to these questions require making sure you know what is causing your skin irritation, so here are the basic facts about eczema vs. psoriasis. Medical textbooks refer to eczema as "the itch that rashes" after you scratch it. It's just as correct to refer to psoriasis as "a rash that itches most of the time" whether you scratch it or not.

That's because one of the basic facts about eczema versus infection, psoriasis, and numerous other skin conditions is that eczema rash only appears after you scratch your itch. In the highly unlikely event you never scratched, soaked, heated, rubbed, or even touched your itchy skin, the irritation of eczema would not cause a rash.

On the other hand, in its beginning stages, psoriasis will cause scaling or a rash, but it may or may not be itchy. The redness of eczema is caused by destruction of the skin, whereas the redness of psoriasis is caused by unusual growth of blood vessels.

Eczema symptoms include at least itch, followed by:

Red, irritated rash, followed by

White scaly buildup on the skin (hyperkeratosis), followed by

Thickening, darkening, and roughing of the skin when it heals (lichenification), followed by

Altered skin color, followed by

Scratch marks.

On the other hand, the famous Hungary Psoriasis Study confirms that in the majority of cases of psoriasis there is first some kind of injury to the skin, and within the next 7 to 14 days there is:

A bright red rash thickening the skin, with well-defined boundaries, occurring at the same time as or quickly followed by:

Itching, commonly followed by

Formation of a raised silvery scale, sometimes followed by,

Tender, painful joints.

When the scale pulls or tears off psoriasis-affected skin, there is usually bleeding, making the skin is susceptible to infection. After its beginning stages, psoriasis can even constitute a medical emergency when there is widespread cracking, fissuring, and infection of the skin.

Eczema is sometimes controlled by eliminating offending foods from the diet. In its beginning stages, psoriasis may be made more manageable by adding omega-3 fatty acids (usually from safe, inexpensive, and natural flaxseed oil or fish oil supplements) to the diet.

Psoriasis research studies show that psoriasis symptoms are also helped by short-term fasting (as little as 18 hours), low-calorie diets, and vegetarian diets. Use of vegetarian diets is helpful because the fatty acids derived from arachidonic acid, found in especially high concentrations in beef egg yolks, and fried foods, counteract the benefits of fatty acids in stopping the production of irritant hormones.

And although psoriasis research studies are preliminary on the relationship of gluten to psoriasis, generally speaking, in beginning stages, psoriasis is more likely to be relieved by eliminating gluten and wheat products, while the irritation caused by eczema is more likely to helped by eliminating dairy from the diet.

Psoriasis usually responds to supplementation with natural or synthetic vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium. When it comes to psoriasis, B-12 supplements probably don't have an effect, but vitamin B-12 creams (usually made with avocado oil) usually do. And especially in men aged 18 to 54, alcohol consumption is a risk factor for psoriasis symptoms.

How to ease the scaling of psoriasis? Here the answers aren't quite the same as my list of eczema home remedies. The least expensive and most effective household remedy for psoriasis is turmeric, but use it externally, not internally!

Turmeric pastes (homemade by adding a tablespoon of turmeric to a half-cup of olive oil and dabbing the mixture to affected skin) can relieve itching and irritation, although their effects are not immediate. You can apply turmeric pastes to skin on almost any part of the body affected by psoriasis, external ear, face, elbows, trunk, etc., although you may smell a little like curry powder until you wash it off.

Don't eat your turmeric to control psoriasis, especially if you use Plavix or Coumadin.

How to prevent itching of psoriasis? What is the best soap for itchy skin?

My readers tell me they get good results from any soap containing neem oil, although neem's effects are more noticeable for treating the irritation of eczema than for treating the itch of psoriasis. Also useful for both psoriasis and eczema is a combination of honey, olive oil, and beeswax, applied to the skin after bathing. Published medical research finds that this simple, safe, and inexpensive combination fights both yeast and staph infections.

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