Common Skin Diseases, Symptoms & Treatments
Your skin is an essential part of your body. It performs a high number of functions and these are vital to overall health. Among the important jobs your skin does are: protection from pathogens and elements; provision of important sensory information pertaining to touch, heat, cold, etc.; prevention of bodily fluid loss through evaporation; absorption; and a barrier of water resistance. Taking care of your skin is one of the best things you can do to maintain overall health, as doctors have found that the majority of skin diseases are caused by nutrient imbalances in the body. Dermatologists recommend a number of high quality skin care products to try and regulate these imbalances and provide your skin with all the necessary nutrients to maintain overall health.
One of the most well-known and common skin problems, and one that is not simply restricted to teenagers, as the generalization asserts. Acne (also known as pimples, and, more informally, zits) is caused by a lubricant known as sebum which is produced by oil glands in the skin.
When the oil gland wall breaks, the sebum spills out and pools in the skin which causes redness and swelling in the form of acne. Sometimes, there is really nothing you can do about the acne, as it runs in families genetically. Contrary to popular belief, foods do not cause acne; in rare cases, certain foods, such as chocolate and nuts, can make acne slightly worse, but do not lead to it. Excess stress can also make acne more pronounced, as can cosmetics in women.
- There are many prescription medicines available which have produced excellent results in many people. Products such as Clear Pores are typically very effective and natural.
- Without a prescription, an effective method is to treat the affected areas with benzoyl peroxide gel at night to work in the skin during sleeping hours.
- While dirt does not cause acne, washing the face and neck at least two times a day can limit the damage of acne and prevent further swelling and redness.
- There is no cure for acne, but it can be controlled. Many people do not respond to the first form of treatment, but, with many options available, typically something can be found to help control acne until it is outgrown.
Age (Sun) Spots
These skin imperfections, also known as lentigines, typically appear in people after age forty, and are simply a result of exposure to the sun. While harmless, they need to be monitored to see that they don’t get bigger than the surrounding sun spots. The only prevention is liberal usage of sunscreen, protective clothing, or no exposure to the sun.
Treatment for Age Spots
- A new treatment is the use of alpha hydroxy acid gel. When applied, this can lighten the coloration of these spots.
- Another option is Retin-A cream, which can also lighten larger spots and make smaller ones disappear.
Tinea pedis is a skin infection caused by a foot fungus. Because this fungus thrives on warm, moist conditions, it tends to be found more in the folds of the toes and may be worse during warmer weather. Everyone comes in contact with this fungus; why some people are more susceptible to developing tinea pedis is unknown. The other difficulty is that even when the rash is treated and appears to be gone, it may still be present and just lying low, only to come back again later. Skin on the foot appears red and, in serious cases, blisters can form.
Treatment of Athlete’s Foot
- Tinea pedis is usually controlled well by application of antifungal creams or liquids, which are readily available.
- People who have recurring athlete’s foot should wear socks comprised of at least 60% cotton. As well, having multiple pairs of shoes that can be alternated to allow each pair to completely dry before being worn again is advisable.
Often found in babies and young children, eczema is an irritable, itchy rash often found on the hands. Like other skin diseases, it can go away and reappear without warning some time later. It is caused by an inherent defect in the skin which causes it to dry out faster than normal skin. It may run in families. Eczema can be aggravated by soaps, detergents and lotions as well.
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Treatment of Eczema
Since it is a skin defect, there is no permanent cure available. However, treatments are generally effective at controlling the swelling and itchiness. Vaseline and cortisone compounds rubbed into the skin are good at moisturizing and limiting eczema. Liberal use of cortisone does require medical follow-ups.
This is the common nomenclature for a condition known as urticaria. Hives are itchy red welts or small bumps that can last for only a few minutes or several hours. They can appear very suddenly and typically leave no trace when they are gone.
Hives are harmless unless they cause swelling of the throat, which can limit air intake and requires medical attention immediately. Some people get hives from medicine taken internally, such as penicillin. There have also been documented cases of people getting hives from eating food, with shellfish and strawberries being known examples.
Treatment of Hives
- If a cause of the hives can be accurately determined, medicine can be prescribed. Typically, hives can be treated with antihistamines, which, while effective for hives, can produce marked drowsiness in- many people.
- Epinephrine dosages are often used with more severe cases of hives, sometimes even combined with antihistamines.
- Natural treatments, such as OxyHives, are also available.
Impetigo is a bacterial infection, most commonly found in children. Impetigo presents itself in round, crusting, often oozing spots that grow larger each day. It is commonly found on the hands and face. The bacteria that causes impetigo often appears without warning.
Treatment of Impetigo
- Natural treatments are available. Dermisil-I had proven effective in eliminating impetigo.
- Antibiotics, whether taken orally or applied to the skin, typically clear up impetigo in four or five days. However, it is important to continue and take all medications until they are gone to prevent reoccurence.
- For most efficacious treatment, the crusts should be removed first. Apply a warm cloth that has been soaked in a white vinegar and water mixture for a few minutes and the crusts should be able to be gently removed prior to application of medication.
- Impetigo is very contagious while the spots are crusting. Avoid close contact with others, and keep children home from school until treatment has cleared up the problem.
This is a disease caused by a tick, which attaches itself to the skin seeking a blood meal. During feeding, the tick injects spiral bacteria into the skin, which can cause the common, red, circular expanding rash that is found in many cases of Lyme disease. The spread of the bacteria throughout the body can lead to fever, flu-like symptoms, headaches and malaise. Joints can also become swollen and painful.
Treatment of Lyme Disease
- The best treatment of Lyme disease is administration of oral antibiotics. Antibiotics can vary depending on the patient and prior extent of the disease.
- To avoid Lyme disease in the first place, avoid ticks by wearing a tick repellent in wooded areas that contains DEET. Protective clothing is essential.
This is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. The reason for the danger inherent in melanoma is the fact that once it reaches a certain size, the cancer metastasizes and quickly spreads throughout the body. When it gets into the internal organs, it is then beyond treatment and can quickly lead to death. With the depletion of the ozone layer in recent years, it seems as if incidence of melanoma is on the rise, as more and more harmful ultraviolet light is present. Doctors have determined that the type of person seemingly most at risk for melanoma is a professional who works indoors and then is exposed to shorter bursts of sunlight on the weekends. The short bursts appear to be more likely to cause melanoma.
Everyone has moles, and it is a mutated mole that becomes a melanoma. To check and see if a mole might be becoming a melanoma, check the symmetry of the mole. If the mole is asymmetrical, if the border of the mole is irregular and not perfectly round, if there are many colors present and if the diameter if more than 1/4 of an inch, a doctor should be contacted.
Treatment of melanoma
- The melanoma itself it typically removed surgically, after which the cancer is analyzed by a pathologist. The smaller and thinner it is, the better chance for a cure. If it is larger and thicker, treatment becomes much more difficult.
- The best course of action is preventative care. Avoid direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., wear a sunscreen product with an SPF of 15 or higher and check your moles regularly. The skin has the advantage of being one of the few organs that we can visually inspect easily, so monthly, it is advisable to check your moles and see if any of them are changing more rapidly than others.
Poison ivy and poison oak contain a resin which causes an allergic reaction, leading to extremely itchy skin. Direct contact with the plant is not necessary, as you can come in contact with the resin by touching clothing or an animal that has been exposed to it. Poison oak pollen can travel through the air. A few lucky individuals never develop the allergy to these plants, but most people will become susceptible to it at some point in their life.
Treatment of Poison Ivy
- These rashes will go away on their own after a short period of time, so, with mild cases of the rash, one option is to simply do nothing, endure the temporary discomfort and you will be cured in time. For more serious cases, however, the level of misery and potential disability requires medical attention.
- One effective natural solution is Sumactin, which works very well on the rash. Any kind of manganese sulfate solution has proven to be an effective antidote to relief and cure. Orally consumed cortisone solutions are also very productive for treatment. After the swelling has gone down, applying cortisone solution directly to the skin will heighten healing.
- Recognition of the plants themselves so as to avoid contact as much as possible is advisable.
Ring worm is the common name for tinea corporis, which is a fungal infection of the skin. Recognition of the infection is easy to the trained eye, as it characteristically produces skin lesions which tend to be clear in the middle with a rough, scaly border. These may be circular in shape, or, in more severe cases, produce a large patch. Ring worm is very contagious, and is often transmitted by pets. Contact with the animal or with a person infected will pass along the fungus.
Treatment of Ring Worm
Tinea corporis typically clears quickly with administration of an antifungal topical medicine. More severe cases may require ingestion of oral antifungal antibiotic. The most common problem is many people stop using the medication after their lesions disappear, and, oftentimes, a recurrence of the infection happens. There may still be fungi present microscopically under the skin, which can only be cleared up by following medicinal instructions to their completion. Having pets treated as well can lead to a better chance of avoiding future infections.
This is another infection; however, shingles is an infection of the nerves that is caused by the same virus as produces chicken-pox. Known scientifically as herpes zoster, shingles can pop up in adults who may have had chicken-pox many years prior and now the virus gets reactivated. The rash can often be confined to one side of the body, producing a red rash that can develop blisters. More severe cases can last a few weeks and leave scars afterward. Because the virus is transmitted through the nerves, inflammation occurs, and causes shingles to be a painful disease.
Treatment of Shingles
- To help heal the rash, oral ingestion of acyclovir is recommended. However, if not started early, the effectiveness of this can be limited. Many patients combine this with Tylenol or a similar pain medication to relieve discomfort.
- Similarly to other skin diseases, warm compression of the crust through the use of diluted vinegar can lead to more comfort. Blisters should not be opened.
- Due to the damage done to the nerves and the slowness of their healing, many patients require additional medication even upon deactivation of the infection and rash. One effective option is to apply Zostrix, which is available without a prescription and can relive pain. It needs to be applied a few times a day and can take a couple weeks to begin working. Many who try it give up on it because it does not provide immediate relief; however, patience pays off in much less pain later.
Sun Burn or Damage
Probably the most common skin affliction, and yet one that is easily avoidable. Caused by uncovered exposure to the sun, sun burn can lead to red, inflamed skin that can blister if severe and even lead to a low grade fever. Eventually, lower levels of epidermis renew themselves and the affected area peels off. Continued exposure to sunlight can cause irreversible skin damage and increase the risk of melanoma.
Treatment of Sun Burn
- A medicine called Indocin can be taken after a sun burn develops. A prescription is required for this medicine.
- Many people use aloe vera or cold creams for relief. While these products provide no healing, they do cool down the skin and provide more comfort for people.
- Prevention is easy to avoid irreversible skin damage, by covering up skin, using a strong sun screen and avoiding direct sunlight altogether.
While harmless, warts tend to be unseemly, which make them rather unpopular. Caused by a virus, warts often appear with a rough surface and dark specks may be seen. Known formally as verruca vulgaris, warts can appear almost anywhere on the body. Prevention is impossible, and the reason why some people get them much more frequently than others is not known. Warts do not develop into cancer; however, they can be contagious, so direct contact is not advised.
Treatment of Warts
- Killing the virus that causes the wart also kills the cells infected by the virus, so treatment is not foolproof.
- There are natural treatments such as Wartrol that are effective. Methods can then increase in intensity and cost, including freezing the wart through the usage of liquid nitrogen, surgery, and burning them off with a carbon dioxide laser.
- Recurrence of warts is not uncommon, and if one method of treatment is not effective, others are available.
This list is a small sample of the diseases than can afflict the skin. With an organ of the size and scope of the skin, many conditions can occur. Taking care of the skin can prevent many problems; however, some people may just be genetically more predisposed to skin trouble. Knowledge of skin treatment is deep, however, and most conditions can be treated successfully.