Eczema is a group of inflamed skin conditions that result in chronic itchy rashes. About 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of eczema, including 10-20 percent of all infants. Symptoms vary from person to person but often include dry, red, itchy patches on the skin which break out in rashes when scratched.
Objects and conditions that trigger itchy eczema outbreaks may include rough or coarse materials touching the skin, excessive heat or sweating, soaps, detergents, disinfectants, fruit and meat juices, dust mites, animal saliva and danders, upper respiratory infections and stress.
Treatment involves the restriction of scratching, use of moisturizing lotions or creams, cold compresses and nonprescription anti-inflammatory corticosteroid creams and ointments. If this proves insufficient, physicians may prescribe corticosteroid medication, antibiotics to combat infection, or sedative antihistamines. Phototherapy is a common procedure that uses light to reduce rashes. For severe cases, drugs such as cyclosporine A may be recommended.
Psoriasis is a term that encompasses a group of chronic skin disorders that affect any part of the body from the scalp to the toenails, but most frequently affect the scalp, elbows, knees, hands, feet and genitals. Over seven million men and women in the U.S. of all ages have some form of psoriasis, which may be mild, moderate or severe. In addition, it may be categorized into different types: plaque, pustular, erythrodermic, guttate or inverse psoriasis. Most forms involve an itching and/or burning sensation, scaling and crusting of the skin.Type-specific symptoms include:
- Plaque psoriasis (the most common type): raised, thickened patches of red skin covered with silvery-white scales;
- Pustular psoriasis: pus-like blisters;
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: intense redness and swelling of a large part of the skin surface;
- Guttate psoriasis: small, drop-like lesions;
- Inverse psoriasis: smooth red lesions in the folds of the skin.
While the cause of psoriasis has yet to be discovered, suspected triggers include emotional stress, skin injury, systemic infections and certain medications. There is a possibility that susceptibility to psoriasis is inherited.
Normally the outer layer of skin, which consists of keratinocytes, is replaced unnoticeably, about once a month. This process is faster in people with psoriasis; keratinocytes reach the skin surface too quickly, before they can be properly incorporated into surrounding tissue or even before they are fully mature. As a result, the skin flakes off. This sped-up process is called parakeratosis.
Psoriasis cannot be cured but it can be treated successfully, sometimes for months or years and occasionally even permanently. Treatment depends on the type, severity and location of psoriasis; the patient's age, medical history and lifestyle; and the effect the disease has on the patient's general mental health. The most common treatments are topical medications, phototherapy, photochemotherapy (PUVA), and oral or injectable medication (for severe symptoms).
Rosacea is a common, chronic skin condition that affects over 14 million Americans, many of whom are unaware that they have the condition. Rosacea appears on the skin of the face as areas of redness and small, pus-filled bumps similar to acne, and can affect a patient's confidence and self-esteem as a result. Although rosacea is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, there are several treatments available to relieve symptoms and prevent flare ups, allowing patients to avoid embarrassment from the appearance of their skin.
While there is no cure for rosacea, there are several treatments available to help control symptoms and allow patients to enjoy their lives without constantly worrying about the appearance of their skin. The most effective treatment for rosacea depends on each patient's individual case, but usually includes a combination of prescription treatment and life changes.
Treatment for rosacea may be long-term, but most patients notice an improvement to their symptoms within one to two months. Patients can reduce the risk of flare ups by identifying certain triggers that lead to flare ups, and then trying to avoid them. Flare ups can also be reduced by wearing sunscreen, protecting the eyes and providing gentle but thorough care for your skin. If permanent skin damage has occurred as a result of rosacea, advanced treatments such as dermabrasion, cryosurgery or laser surgery may be performed to improve the appearance of the skin.
Warts are a common skin condition resulting from infection by one or another strain of human papillomavirus (HPV). There are several types of warts that can affect individuals of any age, but some types are more commonly found in children and some more often found in adults. Many types of warts, especially those usually found on children, disappear on their own. When troublesome, warts can be treated with medications or otherwise removed.
Patients with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or other immune disorder or those who have had organ transplants, are particularly susceptible to warts. Since warts are contagious through direct skin contact, strict personal hygiene can help to prevent their spread. This includes avoidance of shared personal items, such as towels or razors.
Warts appear as small skin growths, flat or slightly raised, on the surface of the skin. They can vary in coloration. Usually warts can be diagnosed by a simple medical examination, but occasionally a biopsy may be necessary to distinguish them from particular kinds of skin cancer. Different types of warts appear on different parts of the body and vary in appearance. Some of the most common varieties of warts are:
- Common warts, which usually appear on the fingers or toes
- Flat warts, common on face, arms or legs
- Plantar warts, which grow on the soles of the feet
- Filiform warts, which grow on the face or neck
- Periungual warts, which grow around or under toenails and fingernails
While most varieties of warts are benign, they may be itchy, painful or embarrassing. Most can be treated through the application of medications like salicylic acid or cantharidin or through cryotherapy, a process of freezing with liquid nitrogen. In especially resistant instances, warts may require laser surgery or surgical excision with a scalpel. In most cases, treatment is permanent and warts do not return.
Acne is the term for the blocked pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that can appear typically on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Seventeen million Americans currently have acne, making it the most common skin disease in the country. While it affects mostly teenagers, and almost all teenagers have some form of acne, adults of any age can have it. Acne is not life-threatening, but it can cause physical disfigurement (scarring) and emotional distress.
Treatment for acne varies depending on the type and severity of lesions, as well as the patient's skin type, age and lifestyle. Options include:
- Topical Medications
- Blackhead Extraction
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Skin Care
- Blu-U Light Treatments
- Laser Treatments
Acne scarring can be treated in a variety of ways as well. These include:
- Chemical Peels
- Soft Tissue Fillers
- Laser/Pulsed Light Treatments
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Risk factors include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
The most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Most skin cancers, 80-85%, are basal cell, affecting the uppermost layer of the epidermis. Squamous cell carcinoma occurs in 10% of all skin cancer patients and affects cells in the middle layer of the epidermis. The most serious, and most rare, of skin cancers are melanomas. Melanomas are dangerous since they can metastasize quickly. Melanomas are the leading cause of skin cancer deaths.
Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading.