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5 Skin Conditions Commonly Mistaken for Eczema

dermatologist wearing gloves examines the skin of a sick patient.Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a common skin condition that causes itchy, dry, and irritating rashes. At Keys Dermatology, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Stefanie Altmann frequently treats children, teens, and adults with eczema, but she also sees many lookalike conditions.

These are five of the skin rashes patients commonly mistake for atopic dermatitis.

1. Psoriasis

Psoriasis causes a thick, scaly rash that usually occurs on the elbows, knees, face, scalp, hands, or feet. Mild cases of plaque psoriasis can look similar to eczema, but patches tend to be less itchy. Psoriasis is also generally soothed by UVB light therapy, but sunlight and heat can be a trigger for many patients with eczema.

2. Hives

Hives (urticaria) are itchy red welts triggered by a histamine reaction. Common irritants include pet dander, certain foods, pollen, latex, heat, or some medications. While eczema and hives can look and feel similar, hives tend to develop suddenly, while eczema generally appears slowly. In most cases, hives go away on their own and can be calmed by an over-the-counter antihistamine. If you get chronic hives, a dermatologist can order a skin prick allergy test to rule out potential triggers.

3. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction that happens when your skin is directly exposed to a substance. Certain plants, fragrances, cosmetic products, and metals can trigger this condition. You may be able to avoid future reactions by getting a skin prick test and avoiding your triggers.

4. Scabies

Scabies and eczema can look similar, but they’re very different conditions. While eczema can’t spread from person to person, scabies is highly contagious and caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin. Prescription permethrin cream or oral ivermectin can kill scabies mites and clear the rash. 

5. Ringworm

Ringworm is a common fungal infection that causes a mildly itchy circular rash. Nummular eczema can present similarly but isn’t clear in the center like ringworm. The edges of nummular eczema also tend to be less defined. Over-the-counter antifungal topicals can usually clear mild cases of ringworm, but our dermatologist can prescribe more potent medications for persistent cases.

Get Skin Rash Treatment in the Florida Keys

If you have a persistent or recurring skin rash, it’s best to seek treatment from a board-certified dermatologist. Dr. Altmann can accurately diagnose your condition and prescribe effective treatments. Call 305-664-8828 to book your appointment at Keys Dermatology in Islamorada and Key West, Florida.

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