There are many different types of skin problems, far too many to list. Skin problems however fall into 6 broad categories:
- Inflammatory skin disorders– this category includes a range of rashes and lesions that irritate and inflame the skin. Many of the more common skin problems fall into this category including acne, eczema, psoriasis, sebaceous cysts and diaper rash.
- Bacterial skin problems– skin conditions caused by a bacterial infection. Examples of bacterial skin conditions include impetigo which commonly affects children and folliculitis or barber’s itch. Bacterial skin problems tend to spread easily and are contagious but they are easily treated with antibiotics.
- Fungal infections– these skin problems occur when microorganisms that naturally live on the skin reproduce rapidly. Examples include candida, athlete’s foot and ringworm.
- Viral skin problems– caused by viruses and are mostly temporary but many types can cause scarring if untreated. Examples are chicken pox, measles, warts, Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2.
- Skin cancer– there are 3 separate forms of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma and basal cell cancer.
- Other skin disorders– this category includes moles and birthmarks which in and of themselves are not health problems though moles should be monitored for changes that could indicate cancer. Birthmarks come in different sizes, shapes and location. Prominent birthmarks may be a problem for some people and can cause psychological distress.
Causes of Skin Problems
As there are many different types of skin disorder, their causes also vary. The following are the most common causes of skin problems:
- Prolonged exposure to the sun. The skin can be damaged by the harmful ultraviolet rays of sunlight. Sunburn and tanning can cause skin cancer and extended exposure to the sun’s rays can cause premature aging. Hyperpigmentation, a skin disorder where areas of skin become darker than the surrounding area can also be caused by sun exposure.
- Allergies and natural irritants. Temporary skin problems are mostly caused by natural sources for example insect bites, poison ivy, lice and mites. A food allergy can also cause hives, skin rashes and facial swelling. Diaper rash can be caused by exposure to urine and feces or allergy to disposable diapers, detergents or soaps.
- Genetics can also be the reason behind some types of skin problems. Individuals whose parents suffer from skin allergies may be at greater risk of developing allergies. Some common skin conditions like acne have hereditary patterns.
- Skin infections have fungal, bacterial or viral basis. Skin problems caused by infections may manifest as rashes or pustules or other types of lesions.
- Pregnancy – there are certain skin problems that tend to occur more during pregnancy. Almost 90% of pregnant women have temporary hyperpigmentation and about 70% have melasma. Both skin conditions tend to diminish after childbirth.
- Adverse reactions to certain drugs can also cause skin problems including swelling, rashes and hives. There are some medications that can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. if a skin problem develops after taking a certain medication, talk to your doctor about it.
Treatment of Skin Problems
Antibiotics are often used to treat skin infections caused by a bacterial or fungal source. Antibiotics may be taken orally as a liquid suspension or pill or applied topically as a cream. Some skin conditions can be effectively treated with steroid creams as such creams can reduce burning, itching and swelling associated with inflammation. Steroid creams however should only be used in combination with the right anti-infection drug if a skin infection is present.
Other Common Treatments for Skin Problems
This is commonly used to treat areas of hyperpigmentation and to remove birthmarks. Laser treatment can also remove unwanted tattoos and get rid of minor wrinkles and scars.
This is also a common way to treat certain skin problems particularly skin cancer where surgically removing the cancerous mole, tumor is necessary for treatment. Minor surgery may also be performed to treat severe acne and remove deeply infected hair follicles.
These are used to fill in minor skin pitting like laugh lines. Most collagen injections are made of purified bovine collagen however collagen from the individual’s own body may also be used.
Protection from the Sun
Avoiding excessive sun exposure is the best way to treat a skin disorder or to prevent one. Here are some things you can do:
- Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs
- Wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats.
- Avoid tanning and tanning salons.
- Do not expose yourself to direct sunlight between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Avoid Allergens that can Trigger Skin Problems
Food and dust allergies can cause rashes and other skin conditions. Following a restricted diet can help prevent food allergies. Dust allergies normally require allergy tests to determine the best course of treatment.
Treating Diaper Rash
Diaper rash can be treated by applying an ointment or cream that contains zinc oxide. Your pediatrician may prescribe a topical antibiotic if a secondary infection develops. You can prevent a diaper rash by:
- Avoiding diapers that are too small
- Exposing your baby’s bottom to air
- Washing your hands before (and after) diaper changes
- Changing your baby’s diaper frequently
- Minimizing exposure to detergents
- Keeping your baby dry always
- Changing diaper and wipe brands if rash is recurring
Prevention of Skin Problems
Here are simple ways you can prevent the development of skin problems:
- Make it a habit to always wash your hands.
- Don’t share blankets, pillowcases or towels.
- Do not reuse unwashed clothes and don’t leave damp clothing on your body.
- Treat wounds immediately.
- When showering, allow the soap to remain on your skin for at least 20-30 seconds to give it a chance to kill off germs on your skin.
- Always use sun screen.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Drink lots of water to help keep your body hydrated.