If you’re dealing with red, itchy spots on your skin, you may be wondering if you have psoriasis or a fungal infection.

Psoriasis and fungal infections may resemble one another, but they’re very different conditions. Keep reading to learn more about their symptoms, risk factors, causes, and treatments.

Psoriasis and fungal infections have similar symptoms. It’s not always easy to figure out what you’re looking at with one glance.

What’s the best way to distinguish between psoriasis and a fungal infection? Look closely at the red patches on your skin.

Is there a silvery look to them? If there is, it might be psoriasis. Do they look like circles or rings? If so, it’s more likely a fungal infection.

Common symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • plaques, or raised, reddish skin patches
  • a silvery, white covering on the patches, called scales
  • itching, cracking skin, or bleeding

While psoriasis plaques can appear anywhere on your body, they’re commonly found on the:

  • scalp
  • elbows
  • knees
  • lower back

The symptoms of a fungal infection are similar to those of psoriasis in many ways. Fungal infections can also create raised, red patches of skin. These patches may also itch. Sometimes, they’ll itch a lot.

A clear sign of a fungal infection is if it continues to grow without treatment. This is especially true for fungal infections on the feet and scalp.

Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States. It affects 125 million people worldwide, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).

While doctors have yet to identify the exact cause of psoriasis, genetics plays a role. Other risk factors include:

Different types of fungi can cause fungal infections.

Dermatophytes are a common type of fungal group. You may know one of the infections that they cause by its common name, ringworm. Despite the name, ringworm is caused by a fungus, not a worm.

Fungal infections are typically superficial and can affect your hair, skin, nails, or anywhere you come into contact with the fungus. They’re very contagious and usually picked up from direct contact with any of the following:

  • another person who has a fungal infection
  • public pools or bathrooms
  • an animal that has a fungal infection
  • unwashed floors, clothes, or children’s toys

Because fungus spreads from contact, people who walk around barefoot are more likely to pick up a fungal infection on their feet.

Your treatment will be different depending on whether you have psoriasis or a fungal infection. Because of this, you’ll want to see a doctor so that you can correctly identify the cause of your skin rash.

There’s currently no cure for psoriasis, but there are many treatments available. Your doctor may prescribe one of the following:

Fungal infections generally clear up pretty easily with antifungal topical creams and oral tablets. Some of these are available over the counter.

Your doctor may suggest different hygiene or cleaning habits if fungal infections are a recurring problem.

See your doctor if your itching is still undiagnosed, especially if it’s getting worse. Also call your doctor for a stronger prescription if you’ve been using a topical, over-the-counter (OTC) treatment and it’s not working.

Because these conditions look so similar, your doctor may have trouble determining the cause of your condition by simply looking at it. If this occurs, you may need to have a biopsy. Finding a clear cause will help you get the treatment you need sooner.