Skin Conditions

An Overview of Common Skin Conditions

As your body's largest organ, your skin is susceptible to a wide range of conditions that can affect its appearance and characteristics. Grouped under the collective term "skin conditions," these ailments can be genetic or autoimmune in nature, or they can result from environmental factors, exposure to toxins or allergens, or result from overactive or underactive hormones. Failure to properly care for your skin can also lead to the development of certain skin conditions.

While there are dozens of different skin conditions, some are more common than others. As many skin conditions share similar symptoms, you should always have your condition evaluated and diagnosed by a doctor so you can begin a treatment plan that will lead to lasting relief.

Common Skin Conditions

This is a list of some of the most commonly diagnosed skin conditions:

  • Acne. While many people associate acne with adolescence and consider it a kind of "rite of passage" into adulthood, it does not only affect people in their teens, and it does not always disappear as a person becomes older. Cases of severe acne require special interventions, which typically include systemic treatments which control breakouts and help prevent the chances of scarring.
  • Eczema. Atopic eczema is believed to have a strong genetic component, and is marked by periodic inflammation of certain localized areas of skin, or by unusually dry skin. Again, the dry skin symptoms are typically localized to a certain area of the body. Eczema can also cause the patient a severe itch, which is particularly problematic because scratching can significantly worsen the problem.
  • Hyperhidrosis. This is the clinical term for "excessive sweating." Sweating is the body's natural cool-down mechanism, but people with hyperhidrosis sweat profusely even if they have not exerted themselves and thus have no need to reduce their body temperatures. Hyperhidrosis can be localized, or confined to one area of the body, or generalized over the patient's entire body. Prescription-strength antiperspirants and systemic drugs are the mainstays of treatment, and frequently provide effective relief.
  • Ichthyosis. This condition is marked by the periodic formation of grayish scales on the skin, which can spread to cover a wide area. There are both inherited and genetic forms of ichthyosis, though inherited forms of the condition are extremely rare. The application of topical treatments forms the mainstay of treatment.
  • Psoriasis. In people with this autoimmune disorder, the body's own immune system attacks the skin, causing red rashes and scaly patches of itchy skin. These rashes can grow to a considerable size, and typically do not respond well to anti-rash medications. Thus, immunosuppressants are widely used in the treatment of psoriasis to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.

As mentioned, there are many other skin conditions, and if you're experiencing any symptoms that affect your skin, make an appointment with your family doctor.

Caring for Your Skin

Taking good overall care of your skin can decrease your risk of developing some skin conditions. Here are some tips to follow to help protect your skin:

  • Bathe daily in lukewarm to hot water, which helps open up your pores and prevent them from getting clogged
  • Avoid contact with any substances or fabrics known to irritate your skin
  • Avoid the use of makeup and other products which add oil to your skin or clog your pores
  • If you do wear makeup, be sure to fully remove it at the end of the day
  • Do not pick at scabs or patches of dry skin, as this can cause scarring and make you more susceptible to skin infections

Finally, be sure to keep your skin hydrated by providing it with adequate moisture, through lotions or other topical treatments. Exfoliation, or the removal of dead skin cells, will also improve the appearance and health of your skin.