Health A-Z: Eczema and psoriasis
Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a dry skin condition. Mild eczema causes dry, scaly, red and itchy skin and may develop into severe symptoms such as weeping, crusting and bleeding.
Atopic eczema is the most common form of the condition. It occurs mainly in children, but can continue into adulthood. If you’re affected you’ll normally have a family history of either eczema or conditions such as asthma or hay fever. It commonly occurs in skin folds such as behind the knees or the inside of the elbows. Moisturising treatments (emollients) and topical corticosteroids to reduce swelling and redness during flare-ups can help.
Psoriasis occurs when the rate at which the body produces skin cells is accelerated, resulting in a build-up. This causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin, covered with silvery scales. These patches generally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, and can be itchy or sore. The condition varies in severity and can come and go.
A range of treatments can improve symptoms and the appearance of psoriasis. Topical treatments and phototherapy, where your skin is exposed to certain types of ultraviolet light, are effective.