Skin diseases & skin conditions health facts
- Common types of skin diseases and skin conditions we treat at HealthFit Family Medicine include acne, psoriasis, eczema, warts and skin tags.
- Acne is a condition that often affects adolescents, but can affect a person at any age. Acne is characterized by small bumps filled with pus, small black spots or deep cysts that can occur on the face, back or neck.
- Eczema (dermatitis) is when the skin is dry, itchy and red. It occurs most often in children and infants. Environmental factors can trigger eczema, called eczema flare-ups.
- Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition often triggered by stress, medications, infections and drugs or alcohol. Psoriasis appears as a thick red rash with white or silver scales.
- Warts and skin tags are typically harmless skin growths that people may choose to remove because they’re unsightly or irritating.
Jump to a topic
- Acne causes, symptoms and treatment.
- Eczema causes, symptoms and treatment.
- Psoriasis causes, symptoms and treatment.
- Wart causes, symptoms and removal.
- Skin tag causes, symptoms and removal.
Acne is a very common skin disease. Almost everyone suffers from some form of it throughout his or her life, especially during adolescence and early adulthood. Adults make up about 20 percent of people suffering from acne, which can cause frustration and self-consciousness and, if extensive, scarring.
These scars can be difficult to treat and do not easily fade away. People with acne are often confused about whether they should see a physician about this skin disease. In general, if a person has been treating acne with products (see below) for three months without improvement or if it gets worse, he or she should come see us.
What causes acne?
Acne most commonly affects the face, neck, chest, upper arms, back and shoulders. Acne starts when the skin’s natural oils, dead skin cells and bacteria become trapped in the tiny openings for hair follicles called pores. If the pores are large, they are called blackheads, which are small, flat spots with dark or “black” centers.
When the pore’s opening is too small, the clogged pore will become a whitehead with an enlarged, flesh-colored bump. If the pressure within the pore is too great, the cell wall can break and cause what is known as a pustule or a classic “pimple,” with a head of pus called inflammatory acne. Cystic acne occurs when infection travels deep into the skin, creating a hard, inflamed bump full of pus.
The exact cause of acne is hard to determine, but we do know that hormones play a part in this skin disease. During teenage years, hormones increase as the child develops into adulthood – this is the main cause of teenage acne. In women, acne can be brought on by the hormonal changes experienced during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Stress can make acne worse because when the body is stressed, it releases more hormones. However tempting, it is important to not touch or pick at acne, as the infection can be pushed deeper or spread to other areas of the skin.
The important thing to know about acne is that it can be treated and improved. There are various acne treatments including cleansers, topical ointments and oral medications designed to treat specific types of acne. In some women, birth control pills can help regulate acne causing hormones. Consistent usage of a combination of the above mentioned medications will usually help improve the frequency and appearance of acne.
Also called dermatitis, eczema is a generalized name for skin conditions that cause the skin to become itchy and red. The name eczema comes from the Greek word meaning to boil over, which refers to the uncomfortable nature of the skin.
The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, but other, lesser known types include contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and stasis dermatitis. Eczema is not contagious.
What causes eczema?
The exact cause of eczema isn’t known, but the skin disease is thought to be developed through a combination of genetics and extreme inflammatory responses to environmental triggers. Since eczema can be exacerbated by outside sources, it is often found in families with a history of allergies and asthma.
Regardless of where the eczema occurs or what type it is, eczema is almost always itchy. The following are also symptoms of eczema:
- Dry, sensitive skin.
- Red, inflamed skin.
- Dark, rough, leathery or scaly colored skin patches.
- Oozing or crusting skin.
- Areas of skin swelling.
Eczema affects about 10-20 percent of infants and only about 3 percent of children and adults. At this time there is no cure for eczema, and that can frustrate those suffering with this skin disease. Come see the providers at HealthFit, we can help. A combination of over-the-counter and provider-prescribed medications, daily bathing and moisturizing, and avoiding triggers (dryness, irritants, some foods) can help to manage eczema flares.
This most often occurs in adults and is characterized by a thick, patchy, red rash with white or silver scales. The most common type of this skin disease is called plaque psoriasis. The rash usually starts as a few small spots that can together form larger patches.
Psoriasis is most often found on the elbows, knees, nails, lower back and scalp.
What causes psoriasis?
Although we think of psoriasis in terms of the skin, it is actually a chronic autoimmune condition. The average person produces new skin and sheds the old every 28-30 days. In people with psoriasis, the immune system attacks healthy skin cells, causing new skin to regenerate in 3-4 days. The body cannot shed the new skin fast enough, so it builds up and causes the red, scaly rash.
Common psoriasis triggers include:
- Certain types of medications.
- Skin infection or injury.
- Drinking alcohol.
HealthFit’s treatments for psoriasis include topical ointments and medications, and oral prescription drugs. Stress relief through deep breathing, yoga or long walks may help ease symptoms made worse by stress.
Wart treatment and removal
What causes warts?
Warts, while harmless, are actually infections on the top layer of skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many types of HPV, some of which cause STDs and others that cause warts.
The virus usually enters the skin through a small cut, and the immune system responds by rapidly growing new skin cells on the outer layer of the skin, which causes the wart. We cannot avoid coming into contact with HPV, as it can be transferred through a handshake, by a doorknob or from a public keyboard – this is why warts are more often found on the hands.
Although we know the cause of warts, we don’t know why some people get them and others don’t. Our best explanation is that some people’s immune systems are just better than others’ and these people are better able to fight off HPV before it causes a wart.
Treatment: wart removal
Warts are easily removed. A stroll through the drug store will give you many options for at-home wart removal. These all involve methods of suffocating the virus so that it dies.
At-home removals can take weeks or months, but a quick visit to the HealthFit providers can result in immediate wart removal via cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen) or excision. Removing a wart soon is important so that the virus does not spread to other parts of the skin or to other people.
Skin tag treatment and removal
Skin tag symptoms
A skin tag is a soft, benign skin growth often found on the eyelids, neck, arm pits and groin. They are commonly found in areas where the skin rubs on itself or clothing. More than 50 percent of people will experience a skin tag at some point in their life.
Skin tags are most commonly found on children who rub their eyes, athletes who have repetitive irritation from sports, and overweight people. While generally harmless, many people choose to remove skin tags because they are unsightly or irritating.
In rare instances, a skin tag can be precancerous. Patients should quickly make an appointment with their provider if a skin tag bleeds, grows or displays multiple colors (pink, brown, red or black).
Treatment: skin tag removal
Contrary to popular belief, removing a skin tag will not cause more to grow. Skin tags are easily removed by cutting off the tag or tying off the blood supply with dental floss and waiting for it to fall off. At-home removals can take a few days or weeks, but skin tag removal at HealthFit is a relatively inexpensive and quick procedure via cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen) or excision with immediate results.