Eczema: 9 Things It's Not

Health Writer
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The symptoms of eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can overlap with a number of other skin conditions, which may require different treatments. Because of this, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis. Continue reading for nine conditions with similar symptoms.



When psoriasis appears in young children, it can be misdiagnosed as eczema because scaling is less prominent and the lesions are often seen on the face, according to a report published in 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. Common symptoms of psoriasis include raised, red, inflamed lesions; silvery scaly plaques; small red, individual spots; dry skin; itching; burning; and soreness, according to National Psoriasis Foundation.


Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can occur alone or alongside eczema. In children, it is most common on face, backs of hands, and the diaper area, according to a report published in 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. It is caused by exposure to irritants or allergens and symptoms include itchy skin, rash, dry skin, burning, stinging, and blisters, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists.


Pityriasis lichenoides

Pityriasis lichenoides is a rare skin disease that usually occurs in late childhood to early adulthood. It starts with an acute eruption of bright red, flat to slightly raised oval spots usually on the trunk, thighs, and upper arms, but may also appear on the face, palms, soles of the feet, and genitals. The rash can come and go. It is thought to be an inappropriate immune response and is diagnosed by biopsy, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.


Pityriasis rubra pilaris

Pityriasis rubra pilaris is a group of skin conditions that cause inflammation and scaling of the skin with reddish, scaly patches. Other symptoms include nail abnormalities and hair thinning. The patches occur most commonly on the elbows, knees, ankles, hands, and feet, according to the National Institutes of Health. The symptoms often worsen over time.



Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria. It is most common in children between ages 2 and 6, and starts with red or pimple-like sores surrounded by red skin. It is most commonly seen on the face, arms, and legs, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.


Molluscum dermatitis

Molluscum dermatitis is a common skin disease that is caused by a virus. It appears as pink or flesh-colored bumps on the skin, which may erupt anywhere on the body. The bumps are usually painless but can itch. It is contagious and can also spread to other parts of the body after scratching. It usually appears on the face, neck, armpits, arms, and hands, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.


Keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition that appears as tiny bumps, which are plugs of dead skin cells. It is most common on the upper arms and thighs. Some children may have them on their cheeks. The bumps are usually painless but may be itchy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.


Ichthyosis vulgaris

Ichthyosis vulgaris looks like dry skin and is caused by skin not shedding as quickly as it should. The most common area of the body for it to appear is on the lower legs. It looks like a fine white scale on the surface of the skin. Babies with ichthyosis vulgaris usually have symptoms by their first birthday, according to Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types.


Darier’s Disease

Darier’s disease is an autosomal disease that results in small lesions that resemble warts. These lesions are accompanied by severe itching and hyperpigmented spots of the skin, according to National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. It is often misdiagnosed as eczema, according to a study published in Military Medicine.