Common Skin Conditions and How To Help Them
In our last article in this series, we discussed the different types of skin and how to find out your skin tone. Here, we’ll be talking about common skin conditions related to different skin types and help you to learn how to manage these. This includes reducing the risk of occurrence, as well as discussing common treatments and any warning signs to look out for.
What Are Skin Conditions?
Our skin is the largest organ in the body. As such, it is prone to bouts of sensitivity, flare-ups and reactions to the environment. If, however, your skin is continually causing you distress – physically or mentally – then this is likely to be considered a ‘skin condition’.
While we’re not your doctor, and can’t diagnose you, we can help arm you with some knowledge. This will help you to understand possible issues with your skin, as well as understanding the terms your doctor might use. We’ll also be giving you hints and tips to help reduce the risk of problems associated with these disorders. Even better, we’ll be listing some of the options available to you, for treatment or management of skin conditions.
Common Skin Conditions
While problems with the skin can occur anywhere on the body, some of the most common skin disorders will occur around the face and neck. After this, the hands are most commonly affected. This is due, in part, to these areas of skin being the most exposed to the elements.
For example, hands are prone to nicks and cuts, and constantly washing can often dry the skin out. Your face, however, has the highest abundance of pores, closely followed by the back, chest and groin. As we know from our last article, pores are small openings in the skin, making them ideal pick-up artists for skin issues. These pesky pores do a great job most of the time – but are easily affected by hormones. As such, they can often be the first port of call for skin conditions.
That’s not to say that problems can’t appear in other areas. But, for the sake of keeping the info bitesize for your needs, we’ll be focusing on these areas in this article.
According to this systemic review, 5.46% of people across the globe are affected by rosacea. This translates to nearly 42 million, globally. And, while rosacea is not life-threatening, it can certainly cause self-confidence issues in sufferers. There are various forms that rosacea can take. The most common forms include redness, blushing, pustules, small visible blood vessels, and raised spots or lumps.
Rosacea can appear on various parts of the body, but the most common area is the face. In particular, the cheeks, nose and around the eyes are the most frequently affected. There are also many environmental factors that cause rosacea, or potentially worsen the effects of rosacea. These include diet, exercise, alcohol, caffeine, hot drinks, sunlight, and stress, as well as hereditary factors.
Early treatment is key to reducing the effects of rosacea, as symptoms may worsen over time and the skin thickens. This thickening of the skin can make it more difficult to treat, so always head to your doctor as soon as possible, if you think you may have rosacea.
Those who have this condition may find that skin is extremely sensitive. Sometimes, using skincare products leads to a stinging or burning sensation. This symptom, combined with other the other signs listed above, may indicate rosacea.
Treatments are usually continuous and are made up of topical prescriptions. There is also evidence to suggest that intense pulsed light (IPL) can improve symptoms. For the latter, a couple of sessions are required and these sessions will need to be spaced out by around 4 – 6 weeks.
Alternative medicines to help with rosacea include:
- Topical aloe gels
- Burdock supplements
- Chamomile, applied topically
- Green tea
Particularly prevalent now, during the pandemic, dermatitis is a general term describing skin irritation. Generally, the term is used interchangeably with eczema. It usually involves itchy, dry skin or a rash on swollen, reddened skin. Sometimes, it may cause the skin to blister, ooze, crust or flake off. The area affected is not limited by size so, sometimes, it can simply be a tiny area that is extremely itchy.
Contact dermatitis most commonly affects the hands. This is purely due to being the most likely area to come into contact with the offensive substance. However, it can also be found on the back of the knees, around the face or over the wrists. It isn’t contagious, so don’t worry, but it can make people feel self-conscious.
Again, continuous, topical treatments are usually prescribed to help ease the symptoms. However, because topical steroid creams can make skin become thinner and more prone to issues, self-care is the best prevention. Antihistamines (such as hayfever tablets) can work wonders on the inflammation. Taking these during a flare-up can help to ease the itching, along with a cool, wet cloth.
Some patients have found that wearing cotton clothing and bathing in tepid water can be a major help in reducing the signs and symptoms of dermatitis. Medicated shampoos or soaps free of SLS and parabens can also make a huge difference, if you have sensitive skin. Moisturising with creams that have a high oil content can also help. And, as always, managing stress levels can reduce the risk of prolonged bouts of dermatitis.
Some alternative methods which are said to help include:
- Dietary supplements, including vitamin D and probiotics
- 5% tea tree oil shampoo, designed to manage dandruff
- Aloe gels
- Chinese herbal therapy
Psoriasis has many of the same issues as dermatitis. Just like eczema, it can be itchy, inflamed and weeping. However, while dermatitis is due to multiple factors, psoriasis has one major cause. It is a chronic autoimmune condition that results in the overproduction of skin cells. These cells build up and become silvery-white, scaly skin over time. These areas aren’t always dry. Indeed, many people with psoriasis find that the scales are redder and smoother – especially in areas that hold moisture.
As your body tells you to shift away the dead skin cells, you become itchy. Unfortunately, as you scratch, the skin becomes red and inflamed, often opening up wounds. Thus, the body creates more skin cells to replace these and the cycle continues. It is most common on the knees and elbows, but the face, scalp and neck are also common areas for psoriasis to strike. In extreme cases, it may even look like burns, rather than a skin condition.
Because psoriasis is a lifelong condition, you will usually need to see a dermatologist. Typically, however, most doctors will begin with topical steroid creams, designed to ease the itching and thin the skin. If these don’t work, then there are the options of having steroid injections, oral or intravenous medications.
Another option is UVB light therapy – which is not the same as using a sunbed and will need to be conducted under the guidance of a dermatologist. This is shown to reduce the rate at which skin cells reproduce. Light therapy can work with dithranol, though it’s extremely potent and needs specially trained administrators, to protect your skin from burns.
Some alternative medicines include:
- Vitamin D creams (also called Vit D analogues)
- Fish oil supplements
- Aloe gel and extracts
- Topical barberry, also known as Oregon Grape
Further Help For Skin Conditions
If you’re not sure what kind of skin issues you may be struggling with, but know that something doesn’t feel right, call your doctor. You know your own body best, after all. However, if you want to read up on some potential skin conditions, then we wholeheartedly recommend this site from the British Skin Foundation. Their handy interactive guide allows you to choose which area, which gender and what symptoms you may currently be experiencing – and then provides you with potential skin conditions you may have.
In the meantime, be sure to watch out for more health and wellness posts from us or check out our beauty and fashion posts. We love to help empower everyone to live their life well and we love hearing from you about what you want to see on our site. So, feel free to leave a comment and let us know what else you think we should cover!