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. Approximately 17 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 degree of acne, adults of any age can have it as well. Acne is not life threatening but it can cause physical disfigurement and emotional distress.
Effective treatment of acne and acne scarring is best accomplished through good communication between patients and their dermatologist.
For additional information on Acne, go to: www.skincarephysicians.com
Eczema is a term used to describe a group of inflamed skin conditions that result in chronic, relapsing and very itchy rashes. It affects 10 to 20 percent of all infants and can persist into adulthood or develop during adulthood. There is no known cause for the condition, but it appears to involve an overactive immune system in the presence of certain materials and often occurs in people susceptible to allergies. Symptoms vary but often include dry, red, itchy skin. Factors that trigger eczema outbreaks may include rough or coarse materials touching the skin, excessive heat or sweating, soaps, detergents, disinfectants, dust mites, animal saliva and dander, upper respiratory infections and stress. Avoidance of triggers, when possible, may minimize flare-ups.
The first and most critical step in reducing the symptoms of eczema is to restrain from scratching. Moisturizing creams and nonprescription anti-inflammatory corticosteroid preparations are often helpful. Beyond this, physicians may prescribe more potent corticosteroid medication, antibiotics to combat infection and/or antihistamines to reduce itching. Another class of drugs called topical immunomodulators (TIMs) may reduce eczema flare-ups. For severe cases, oral drugs may be recommended.
For additional information on Eczema, go to: www.nationaleczema.org
Moles, or the more proper medical term, nevi, are benign pigmented lesions that range in color from clear to red or pink as well as tan, brown and black. Although the vast majority of nevi are harmless, some may develop into cancer and are lesions that dermatologists take very seriously. Moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by a professional
- Larger than 6 mm
- Itching or bleeding
- Change in color, size or shape
If you have a personal or family history of abnormal moles or melanoma, you should be evaluated on a regular basis.
For additional information on Moles, go to: www.webmd.com
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 commonly involves 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 itching and/or burning sensations along with scaling and crusting of the skin.
Type specific signs 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.
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).
For additional information on Psoriasis go to: www.psoriasis.org
Rosacea is a chronic skin disorder that results in redness and acne lesions on the face. Characteristically blackheads are absent. The scalp, neck, ears, chest, back and/or eyes may also be affected. Signs range from red pimples to larger nodules along with visible blood vessels. Many people find that the emotional effects of rosacea, such as low self confidence and avoidance of social situations, are more difficult to handle than the physical ones. Most manifestations of rosacea can be effectively treated, producing gratifying results for the patients.
For additional information on Rosacea, go to: www.rosacea.org
Seborrhea is a chronic skin condition of unknown origin. It is characterized by redness and/or scaling, typically involving the central cheeks, the areas around the nose, the eyebrows, the area between the eyebrows, the backs of the ears, the chest, the ear canals and the scalp. Dandruff is actually a mild form of seborrhea.
Although there is no cure for this problem, the signs and symptoms can generally be controlled using a variety of topical preparations along with shampoos.
For additional information on Seborrhea, go to: www.dermatology.about.com
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 fair skin, family history and repeated exposure to tanning beds or sun. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
The most common skin cancers are:
- Basal cell carcinoma - 80-85% of all skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma affects cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis.
- Squamous cell carcinoma - 10% of all skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma affects cells in the middle layer of the epidermis.
- Melanoma - 5% of all skin cancers. Melanoma is less common but potentially very dangerous. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease.
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.
For additional information on Skin Cancer, go to: www.skincancer.org
The skin can become infected in a variety of ways and by a multitude of organisms. There are bacterial infections, viral infections, and fungal infections.
Typical bacterial infections might consist of impetigo or infected hair follicles as well as more serious conditions such as cellulitis. Viral infections of the skin include a number of childhood rashes as well as shingles or fever blisters. Fungal infections may show themselves as ringworm or jock itch along with fungal infections of the nails. MRSA, a resistant staph infection, has become more common and requires immediate attention by a physician.
Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. Different warts respond to different treatments. Some go away on their own. Salicylic acid products (in the form of drops, gels, pads and bandages) can help self-treatment of many warts by dissolving the keratin protein that makes up the wart and the dead skin above it. Others can be removed via liquid nitrogen freezing or electrical stimulation. Surgery may be recommended for painful or large warts that do not respond to these treatments.