Atopic dermatitis and psoriasis are both skin conditions. They both cause dryness, itchiness, redness, and a patchy look. As such, it can be tough for patients, and sometimes even for their doctors, to determine which disease is presenting itself. So is the skin issue you've been dealing with psoriasis, or is it atopic dermatitis disease? Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to figure it out.

How itchy is it?

Although both conditions can cause itching, the itching associated with psoriasis is generally much milder. If asked to list their symptoms, a psoriasis patient would typically list a few other problems before thinking of the itchiness because it's not constantly present, and it's not that bad. With atopic dermatitis, on the other hand, the itchiness is often quite severe. It is typically the first thing patients complain about — that their skin is so itchy they can't stop touching it!

How does your scalp look?

Technically, you can develop atopic dermatitis anywhere, but it is fairly rare for patients to develop it across their scalps. If you have a lot of patchiness all over your scalp, especially if it is not elsewhere on your body, then it is probably due to psoriasis, not atopic dermatitis. Usually, atopic dermatitis affects the face, and also any skin that stays moist and suffers friction, such as the skin behind your knees and inside your elbows.

Does your condition respond to sunshine?

How does your skin look after you've spent some time in the sun? The UV rays in sunlight can help ease the symptoms of psoriasis temporarily, but they rarely have an effect on atopic dermatitis. In fact, sunshine can make atopic dermatitis worse. If a little sun seems to ease your symptoms, then you're probably dealing with a case of psoriasis. 

Are the patches round or uneven?

With some exceptions, the patches caused by psoriasis are often large and irregularly shaped. They may seem to grow over time. The patches caused by atopic dermatitis are often smaller and more round. Once they appear, they typically stay about the same size, or they may become smaller as they start to heal.

After asking yourself the questions above, you should have a better idea of whether you're suffering from atopic dermatitis or psoriasis. Make sure you meet with a dermatologist to discuss your symptoms and get an official diagnosis so you're able to get the right treatment.