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Health Information Skin Conditions: Eczema and Psoriasis

Don’t Let It Get Under Your Skin

Maybe it started with an itch and progressed to a rash. Or it began as a rash and kept growing. Either way, you have a skin condition that’s becoming a serious irritation.

It could be one of the following two common conditions: eczema or psoriasis.


More than 15 million Americans have atopic dermatitis, an inflammatory skin condition, also called eczema, that researchers believe is an overreaction of the immune system to irritation.

It frequently starts with an itch. Scratching results in a rash — usually dry, itchy, red patches — though in some people it may bubble and ooze.

“Eczema often appears on the face, so it’s visible to everyone, which can affect your self-esteem, ” says Michael Tharp, MD, chairperson of the Department of Dermatology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Frequently the neck, folds of the arms and backs of the legs are also affected. Continued scratching can make the skin thick and leathery.

Good skin care is vital to treatment, Tharp says. Your dermatologist can recommend soaps and moisturizers, such as ceramide-enriched creams (ceramides are important oils normally found in the skin). He or she can also advise you on the use of inflammation-reducing corticosteroid or calcineuron-inhibitor creams and perhaps phototherapy — exposure to certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light that prevents the exaggerated immune response that leads to inflammation.


Psoriasis, another inflammatory skin condition, is a buildup of skin cells that can itch or hurt. Researchers believe it is caused when the immune system stimulates skin cells to grow more rapidly than they can be shed.

These patches of reddened, raised skin covered by silver-white scales often appear on the scalp, knees and elbows.

The latest treatment involves the use of biologics — human or animal proteins or antibodies that block psoriasis early in its development by targeting the overactive immune cells. Rush offers all five biologics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some of these medicines can be administered at home; others must be given in a doctor’s office.

Help for every skin problem

Whether you have eczema, psoriasis or something else that concerns you — adult acne, varicose veins, rosacea (excessive facial flushing) or birthmarks — you don’t need to suffer. Call (888) 352-RUSH (7874) to make an appointment with a dermatologist.

Skin, Hair and Nail Care
at Rush

Dermatology specialists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, offer comprehensive care for common and rare skin, hair and nail diseases. Offering care for people of all ages, our dermatologists are leading authorities in skin care whose expertise draws patients from all over the Midwest.

The dermatology team at Rush offers safe and innovative treatments based on years of experience as well as the latest scientific research.

For more information about the dermatologic care at Rush visit the Dermatology home page.

Looking for Other Health Information?

Visit Discover Rush’s Web Resource page to find articles on health topics and recent health news from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. You will also find many helpful links to other areas of our site.

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Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, is a leader in caring for people of all ages, from newborns through older adults.

Just phone (888) 352-RUSH or (888) 352-7874 for help finding the Rush doctor who’s right for you.

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Discover Rush, 2007 - Fall
Skin Conditions: Eczema and Psoriasis

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