If you’re experiencing uncomfortable patches, scales, or redness on your skin, you may be wondering if you have psoriasis or rosacea. These are both chronic skin conditions that should be treated by a doctor.
Psoriasis and rosacea can both be caused by genetic and age-related factors, but they’re different conditions. Psoriasis can affect your entire body and result in red, scaly plaques on your skin, among other symptoms. Rosacea is usually contained to the face, especially your nose or cheeks, and causes flushing. In more severe cases, rosacea causes acne and thickened skin.
Both psoriasis and rosacea are common. In the United States, more than 7 million people have psoriasis and 14 million people have rosacea.
Psoriasis is a condition caused by a faulty immune system that makes skin cells turn over too quickly. This results in red, scaly patches and silver scales on the skin.
The skin cells of people without psoriasis turn over on a monthly basis. By contrast, the skin cells of people with psoriasis turn over within days and pile up on the skin’s surface.
Men and women can both be affected by psoriasis. It occurs most commonly in adults.
Psoriasis has genetic factors, but not all people with a family history of psoriasis will develop it. Psoriasis outbreaks can be caused by the following:
- cold weather
- certain prescription medications
Psoriasis is not contagious.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes the skin on the face to become red and irritated. There are varied stages of rosacea. Early stages mostly result in the skin on your face becoming red and inflamed. The later stages of rosacea include acne and thickened skin.
Rosacea may be inherited, but it can also be caused by other factors. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are several causes of rosacea. These include an immune response to:
- a specific bacterium
- a bug in the intestines
- a mite that lives on the skin
- a protein that normally protects the skin from infection
Other factors that can trigger rosacea include:
- strenuous exercise
- spicy foods
- cinnamon and foods containing the compound cinnamaldehyde (like chocolate and tomatoes)
- cold temperatures
- hot beverages
- heavy alcohol consumption
Women are more susceptible to rosacea than men, particularly women going through menopause. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, rosacea is more common among people with lighter skin and those aged 30 to 60.
Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, there are some areas where it is more commonly found. These include the:
There are different types of psoriasis that result in varying symptoms. Some symptoms of psoriasis include:
- raised, reddish patches on the skin called plaques that may be covered with a silvery white coating (plaque psoriasis)
- nail problems like pits in the nails, crumbling skin, and nails that fall off (plaque psoriasis)
- small red spots on the body (guttate psoriasis)
- red and swollen skin with pus-filled bumps, usually on the palms and soles, which can be painful (pustular psoriasis)
- very red shiny lesions in body folds (inverse psoriasis)
Some people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. This causes mild to severe joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. These arthritic episodes can come and go.
Rosacea is mainly contained to the skin on the face, but it can also spread to the eyes. There are several stages of rosacea that cause different symptoms:
- In the earliest stage of rosacea, flushing of the face occurs with or without a burning sensation.
- In vascular rosacea, persistent flushing and redness on the face occurs.
- In inflammatory rosacea, redness on the face occurs along with pink bumps (called papules), bumps containing pus (called pustules), and possible eye irritation.
- In the advanced stage of rosacea, a deep shade of red on the face occurs, and eye inflammation worsens.
- In a condition called rhinophyma, the nose can become enlarged, bulbous, and red. This symptom occurs most often in men.
Even though both conditions are chronic, there are several treatments that can help manage the symptoms.
Psoriasis treatment options
If you have psoriasis, a dermatologist should help you assess the best treatment plans. They may suggest topical treatments (creams), phototherapy (light therapy), or systemic treatments (medications).
It can be difficult to treat psoriasis, so you may have to use a combination of these treatments.
Rosacea treatment options
Treating rosacea can take weeks or months. You may need to see both a dermatologist and an ophthalmologist if the condition has spread to your eyes. Symptoms of rosacea can be relieved by:
- avoiding alcohol, hot beverages, spicy foods, or other triggers for facial flushing
- wearing sunscreen daily
- avoiding extreme temperatures
- using lukewarm water to wash your face (instead of hot water)
If your rosacea requires medical intervention, your doctor may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic. In some cases, light therapy may improve rosacea if other treatments do not work.
Both psoriasis and rosacea are chronic conditions. Psoriasis cannot be cured, but it can be kept under control with proper treatment. Taking an active role in your treatment plan can help to minimize the effects of psoriasis.
For those with rosacea, there is no cure, but treatment plans can help treat flare-ups. In most cases, it takes many years to clear. Be patient and continue to follow through with your treatment plan. Eventually, you should see results.