Skin diseases include all conditions that irritate, clog or damage your skin, as well as skin cancer.
Many skin disease symptoms can be controlled with medication, proper skin care and lifestyle changes. Treatment can reduce symptoms and keep them at bay for months at a time.
Some of the most common skin disease symptoms include itchiness, dry skin and rashes. Healthcare providers consider a person’s medical history and physical symptoms to diagnose skin conditions.
Skin is the body’s largest organ, providing protection from germs and helping you feel hot and cold. Its layers contain nerve endings that help you control your body’s temperature and a protective layer of oils to keep your skin moist and soft.
When you cut or scrape your skin, germs can enter the wound and cause an infection. Some infections are mild and heal on their own in a few days or weeks, while others are more serious and require treatment.
Bacterial infections are the most common type of skin infection, caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and group A b-hemolytic streptococci. These bacteria can infect the underlying tissue and cause cellulitis, erysipelas, impetigo, folliculitis, and furuncles or carbuncles.
These infections can cause severe itching and swelling. They may also lead to redness, rash, and blisters. Your doctor can treat some bacterial skin infections with over-the-counter antibiotics or with oral antibiotics.
Fungal infections can also be treated with over-the-counter antifungal sprays or creams or with prescription oral or topical antibiotics. Your doctor can diagnose a fungal skin infection with a medical exam and sometimes with a sample of your skin cells.
Tiny insects or organisms burrowing underneath your skin and laying eggs can also cause parasitic skin infections. These types of infections aren’t contagious, but they can be painful and uncomfortable.
Other types of infections are caused by viruses or fungi. These can spread to other parts of your body and can be life-threatening if they involve the heart, kidneys, or other organs.
You can prevent bacterial and viral skin infections by washing your hands often and keeping cuts and wounds clean. You can also avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
Those with diabetes or chronic inflammatory bowel disease are more at risk for infections of the skin because these conditions can make it harder to heal minor cuts and wounds. Some medications used to treat these diseases can also increase your risk for developing a skin infection.
Diagnosis of a skin infection is usually made with a physical exam and blood tests. Your doctor can use a dermatoscope or other equipment to examine the area of your skin that is infected. Your doctor can also use a microscope to look at the cells in your skin lesions.
When your skin comes into contact with a substance that you’re allergic to, your immune system triggers a response. This can result in red, itchy, swollen or blistered skin. This reaction is called an allergic skin rash, and it can appear anywhere on your body.
Doctors can diagnose skin allergies by doing a test that involves pricking the skin with small amounts of allergens and then examining it. If an allergy is identified, it’s usually treated with antihistamines to reduce symptoms.
Allergy symptoms can include sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat, skin rashes and swelling of the eyes or face. Symptoms can also affect the respiratory system, such as wheezing and trouble breathing.
Your doctor may also suggest a skin test or a blood test to look for allergens in your blood. If the test results are inconclusive, your doctor may suggest an intradermal test, which he or she will carefully inject small amounts of various allergens into the deep layers of the skin.
There are many types of skin allergies, each causing different symptoms. The most common are atopic dermatitis, hives and angioedema.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of skin allergy, and it’s a chronic condition that usually begins in early childhood. It’s characterized by a red, itchy rash that usually occurs in the face, eyelids, neck and hands.
This condition is triggered by a variety of environmental allergens, such as pollen and dust mites. It can also be caused by medications and cosmetics.
Some people are sensitive to the chemicals found in latex, which is found in rubber products, clothing, and shoes. The allergy can occur in the area where the latex is used, or in areas that have been exposed to the material in the past (local dermatitis).
In severe cases of contact dermatitis, your doctor can prescribe an oral corticosteroid to help reduce the itching and redness. Topical antihistamine creams can also be prescribed.
In rare cases, skin allergies can lead to life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis. A person with anaphylaxis needs immediate medical care to treat the symptoms. If someone you know is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, call 911 and ask your doctor to administer an injection of epinephrine.
Blisters are tiny bubbles of fluid that form on the skin. They may be bloody or clear and can be caused by many different kinds of skin disease.
Some blisters are harmless, and they fade away on their own. However, if your skin is very red or itchy and the blisters look painful, see your Mercy Health doctor. The doctor will examine your blisters and take a blood or skin sample to help identify the cause of your symptoms.
Friction is one of the most common causes of blisters, especially on the soles of your feet and palms of your hands. It can also happen on your face, arms, or legs when you use sporting equipment or clothing that rubs against your skin.
Most friction blisters heal on their own if you avoid triggering them and don’t try to pop or drain them. If you can, use padding around the blister to reduce pressure and prevent it from spreading or getting infected.
If you have a medical condition that causes your skin to blister, such as eczema or impetigo, your doctor will prescribe medications to relieve the itching and pain. For example, antibiotic cream or pills are given for eczema and herpes simplex infections and shingles (herpes zoster).
Blisters that are caused by allergies are often self-treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These medicines are usually effective for reducing itching and swelling.
The doctor will probably give you a steroid cream to help control the itching and discomfort, depending on the type of allergy that is causing your blisters. For some people, the itching is so bad that they need to use steroid medications in combination with other treatments.
Some medical conditions, such as pemphigus and dermatitis herpetiformis, make your skin more prone to blistering. These conditions are usually inherited and require special care.
The doctor can also take a piece of your skin and test it under the microscope to check for signs of an infection. This can be done at the office or at a laboratory.
Skin changes are a common symptom of many diseases. Some of them are temporary and go away without treatment. Others are permanent and may cause pain or discomfort.
Aging is the most obvious cause of skin changes, but they can also be caused by a variety of factors including genetics, nutrition, and exposure to the sun. Blue-eyed, fair-skinned people are at greater risk for aging skin changes than people with dark, heavily pigmented skin.
Age spots and lentigos (pigmented spots) appear on the skin when the number of pigment-containing cells in the epidermis decreases. The skin’s thickness and strength (elasticity) decrease, as well.
These changes can make the skin look rough, dry, and leathery. They can be more noticeable in people who spend a lot of time outdoors.
In addition to sun exposure, other environmental factors that can trigger skin changes include diet and exercise. Dehydration and lowered immunity are other potential causes of skin changes.
Some conditions may be hereditary, such as psoriasis and atopic eczema. They usually appear on the skin’s surface or inside the body, and are characterized by itchy, red patches of skin.
Rosacea is a condition that causes red, irritated, itchy skin on the face and sometimes the neck or chest. It is more common in women than men.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain. It can affect the skin and other parts of your body, such as the eyes, kidneys, heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
The skin is the largest organ in your body, so it is important to keep it healthy. If you are experiencing any unusual skin changes, visit your doctor for an evaluation.
Some skin changes are caused by an underlying health condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. These may lead to infections or other problems. They can also prevent the skin from healing properly.