Acne can be unattractive. It can also cause permanent scarring and emotional distress. Fortunately, several treatment options are available. Patients can often improve mild acne by washing with warm water and a mild soap twice a day and/or using a topical over-the-counter acne medication. For severe cases, laser treatment may be recommended.
Treatment for acne varies depending on the type and severity of lesions, skin type and the patient's age and lifestyle, but on average results are visible in six to eight weeks.
Eczema is a term used to describe a group of inflamed skin conditions that result in chronic itchy rashes. About 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of eczema, including 10-20 percent of all infants. Symptoms vary from person to person but often include dry, red, itchy patches on the skin which break out in rashes when scratched.
Psoriasis encompasses a group of chronic skin disorders that cause an itching and/or burning sensation, scaling and crusting of the skin. The most commonly affected areas are the scalp, elbows, knees, hands, feet and genitals. Psoriasis cannot be cured but it can be treated successfully, sometimes for months or years at a time 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.
Moles and other birthmarks are benign pigmented spots or patches of skin that range in color from tan, brown and black (moles) to red, pink or purple (vascular nevi, such as strawberry hemangiomas or port wine stains). Though most birthmarks are harmless, they may develop into skin cancer. Moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by a professional immediately:
- Larger than six millimeters.
- Itches or bleeds.
- Rapidly changes in color, size or shape.
- Has multiple colors.
- Is located where it can't be easily monitored, such as on the scalp.
Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that causes redness and swelling on the face. The scalp, neck, ears, chest, back and/or eyes may also be affected. Symptoms range from red pimples, lines and visible blood vessels to dry or burning skin and a tendency to flush easily. Although it can affect anyone, rosacea typically appears in light-skinned, light-haired adults aged 30-50.
A rash is a change in the skin's color or texture. Simple rashes are called dermatitis, which means the skin is inflamed or swollen. Other common rashes include eczema, psoriasis, impetigo, shingles, chicken pox, measles, scarlet fever, insect bites and those caused by medical conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. A dermatologist is usually able to identify the rash by looking at it and asking about accompanying symptoms.
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. The most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (the lowest layer of the epidermis) and squamous cell carcinoma (the middle layer of the epidermis). A rarer but more dangerous skin cancer is melanoma, the leading cause of death from skin disease.
Risk factors for developing skin cancer include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. 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.