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January 11 2022

A Guide to the Kinds of Skin Diseases and How to Treat Them



 
FUN FACT: The skin is the largest organ of the body and one of the most important. It provides a protective layer against various types of injuries. It is also the sensory organ used for touching or tactile sense.

The skin is sensitive as it is tough. And just like any other part of the body, it is also prone to diseases.

Ensuring that the skin is cared for and given proper attention is vital, especially if signs and symptoms of a condition start to show. What are skin diseases, exactly? Here is a list of some of the most common kinds:


 

 

Acne

This is a common skin condition that affects teenagers and adults. It happens when the skin's pores become blocked by oil, dirt, dead skin, and bacteria.
 
Each pore is an opening to a follicle where hair grows. If this opening gets blocked, the skin may form either a layer of skin on top of it (whiteheads) or the pore stretches, exposing the oil and skin pigment, causing it to turn dark (blackheads) due to oxidation. Both are considered comedonal acne (a pattern of acne that usually affects the forehead and chin).
 
Risk factors can include:
  • Hormonal changes (puberty, menstrual, or pregnancy)
  • Particular medications
  • Birth control pills
  • Corticosteroids
  • Diet high in refined sugars and carbohydrates
  • Hereditary
 
Thankfully, acne is treatable. Some tips to follow are:
  • Proper skincare to remove excess oil and dirt
  • Keeping the hair clean and out of the face
  • Using "non-comedogenic" makeup
  • Never touching or squeezing pimples
  • Drinking plenty of water to hydrate
  • Consulting a doctor to manage hormonal imbalances

 

Eczema

In the Philippines, it is said that eczema affects two (2) to three (3) out of ten (10) children. It is characterized by an itchy and irritating sensation, with the skin becoming red, dry, and flaky. In more severe cases, it can crust over and bleed. While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, it is said that some factors can trigger it, including nuts, dairy products, smoke, and pollen.
 
A person with eczema will likely pass it on to their children. Currently, there is no cure for eczema. However, they can manage symptoms with proper care:
 
  • Avoid scratching
  • Avoid irritants, allergens, and other triggers
  • Stay moisturized and keep hydrated to reduce itchiness and dryness, building back the skin's natural barrier
  • Manage stress by resting, relaxing, and exercising
  • Warm showers

 


Psoriasis

This skin condition is a long-term chronic disorder commonly found on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp. Psoriasis, unfortunately, does not have a cure. It goes through cycles of days and even weeks. Some symptoms include red, scaly patches on the skin; dry and cracked skin that can bleed; soreness; burning sensation; ridged nails; and stiff joints.
 
There are various types of psoriasis, but the most common one is plaque psoriasis, where the rapid turnover of cells results in scales and red patches. Many factors can trigger the condition, including infections, the weather (especially cold), dry conditions, stress, heavy drinking, and smoking.
 
Treatment lies in managing its symptoms, including corticosteroids, light therapy (UV), moisturizers, topical retinoids, and more.
 

Cold Sores

These are also called fever blisters. Cold sores come from being infected by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), often causing tiny painful blisters around the mouth, nose, and cheek. Cold sores could show up twenty (20) days after being infected. Note that the sore could appear where the virus entered the body.
 
Cold sores are caused by two (2) types of viruses, namely HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both can cause sores on the genitals and can spread through oral sex. The type 1 virus usually causes cold sores, while the type 2 virus causes genital herpes, a sexually transmitted infection.
 
Anyone can contract HSV if they have come into contact with people or things that carry the virus. For example, kissing can get someone infected or when sharing utensils.
 
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for cold sores. The virus stays in the body even after infection, but the sores themselves heal after around one (1) to two (2) weeks. Antiviral medications can speed up its healing.
 

Hives

In many cases, these are temporary skin problems that can be treated with allergy medication. The condition is usually caused by an allergic reaction to something encountered such as pollen, insect bites, and animal dander. As a result, the body releases histamines into the blood to defend itself against infection and intruders.
 
The most noticeable symptom of hives is the welts that are usually red. They generally come in round, ring-shaped, or large random shapes. They can also appear in batches on the skin and can grow larger and spread.
 
Changing a person's lifestyle can significantly decrease the chances of hives appearing. One way to avoid it is by staying away from known allergens. For example, avoid triggers like humid areas and tight-fitting clothes. If allergens are unknown, see a dermatologist or allergologist to get started on an allergy test.
 

Contact Dermatitis

These are red, itchy rashes caused by allergens such as dust and pollen. Other things that can cause contact dermatitis are jewelry, soap, plants, and fragrances. The rashes usually stay from two (2) to four (4) weeks and go away on their own.
 
Some treatments can help alleviate the discomfort, such as soothing the skin with a cool and wet compress, applying anti-itch creams, and other remedies. But the best way to avoid contact dermatitis entirely is by avoiding the triggers that cause it.
 

Warts

Warts are rough bumps that form on the skin. These bumps are dome-shaped, sometimes flat, rough, with colors that appear skin-like, brown, gray, or black. These are non-cancerous bumps caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)—a highly contagious virus. Anyone can get warts from touching someone who has it.
 
Children are the most vulnerable to warts because they usually get minor cuts. These bumps can develop anywhere: on the hands, feet, face, genitals, etc. Warts often go away on their own once the immune system fights the virus off, but because warts can spread, a doctor may recommend getting treatment.
 
Treatment includes at-home wart removal kits from pharmacies, cryotherapy where warts are frozen and shed, laser treatments, and more. It is best to consult a dermatologist before trying any treatment.
 

Vitiligo

It is a skin condition that causes patches of skin to lose pigment. This condition occurs when the skin's melanocytes, or the cells responsible for giving skin its color, are destroyed. It is said to affect around 0.2-2% of the world's population.
 
Vitiligo can occur in any race, but it is more noticeable in darker-skinned people because of the contrast in colors. The color loss is usually symmetrical and affects both sides of the body.
 
Sadly, there is no cure for vitiligo. Some medicines can help restore color, but the effectiveness depends on the case. In some, light and laser therapies have been effective in returning their skin color. However, a more affordable and non-invasive approach is using cosmetics and self-tanning to get that even color back.
 

Keratosis Pilaris

It is also called chicken skin. These are non-contagious, tiny bumps that appear on the skin, making them feel rough. These are dead skin cells blocking hair follicles. The patches of chicken skin can appear on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks, and buttocks. 
 
People with this condition tend to suffer more during the colder months when the skin is more prone to drying out. It can also worsen during pregnancy. Keratosis Pilaris does not usually cause any itching or discomfort, but aesthetically, it does look a bit alarming seeing red or brown dots on the skin.
 
Other symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris include:
  • Slight pinkness or redness around bumps
  • Itchy, irritable, and dry skin
  • Rough bumps that feel like sandpaper
 
There is no cure for this condition. However, there are some ways to treat it or prevent it from getting worse, such as exfoliation and moisturization. But the best option would be to go to a dermatology clinic to have it seen by a doctor.

Ringworm

It is a skin infection caused by a fungus. It gets its name from the circular rash that appears on the skin shaped like a ring. It is usually red and itchy. The fungi that are the root cause of the infection can live on the skin, surfaces, and household items like clothing, beddings, towels, etc.
 
Symptoms typically appear between four (4) and fourteen (14) days after the contact with the fungi that cause ringworm. Some symptoms include:
  • Itchy skin
  • Ring-shaped rash
  • Red, scaly, cracked skin
  • Hair loss
 
Treatment varies depending on the location and how severe the infection is. dermatologists can treat some forms of ringworms with non-prescription medication, but some need treatment with prescribed antifungal medicines. It is best to schedule an appointment with a doctor to ensure proper treatment.
 

Addressing the Issue

Everyone has gone through skin diseases of different kinds, and nobody should be ashamed about it. Maintaining healthy skin is just as much hard work as maintaining a healthy body, but it is also just as rewarding.
 
Having healthy skin is a prize on its own, but it is not always easy to achieve. This is why having a skincare routine (e.g., use of moisturizer, sunscreen, and hydrating products) is essential. And if faced with a skin condition, getting the proper treatment from a board-certified dermatologist or allergologist is the best option.
 
Makati Medical Center houses world-class facilities with seasoned specialists in different fields, including dermatology. Contact us now for the proper treatment and management of any of these skin diseases.