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.
Tips for identification
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
1. Psoriasis of the scalp
Because it’s harder to see the rash clearly when it’s on the scalp, the scaling seen with psoriasis may be mistaken for dandruff or ringworm (tinea capitis).
2. Tinea capitis
3. Psoriasis of the soles of the feet
The scaling of psoriasis of the feet tends to be thicker than what is seen with athlete’s foot. A skin scraping may be required to confirm psoriasis and to rule out other disorders.
4. Tinea pedis
Fungus prefers dark, damp body parts, so the area between the toes are particularly susceptible.
5. Psoriasis plaque on the elbow
A classic psoriatic plaque has a thick silvery scale on top of a reddish base of itchy skin.
6. Ringworm on the arm
In the classic ringworm rash, a round, red scaly ring with a central clearing may be found as a single lesion or with other similar lesions nearby.
Symptoms of psoriasis
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:
- lower back
Symptoms of fungal infections
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.
Risk factors for psoriasis
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:
- chronic or extreme stress
- cold or dry air
- other environmental factors
Causes of fungal infection
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.
Treatments for psoriasis
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:
- topical creams, including coal tar extracts and steroids
- narrow band ultraviolet (UVB) light therapy
- oral medications
- biologic injections
Treatments for fungal infections
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.
When to see a doctor
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.
Reference source: healthline.com