Understanding Skin Conditions


Skin Conditions are not completely understood, but there are specific categories that are beginning to be understood how they form and how to treat them. We are going to discuss the basics about some of the most common conditions:

· Acne

· Atopic dermatitis

· Canker Sores (Aphthous Ulcers)

· Dry Skin (Xerosis)

· Psoriasis

· Rosacea

· Skin Cancer

Acne Basics

Acne begins when the pores in the skin become clogged and can no longer drain oil made by glands of Hair follicles. If the oils stay beneath the skin, white bumps are formed called whiteheads. If the oils reach the surface of the skin, darkened bumps appear called blackheads. This black discoloration is due to the oils darkening when exposed to air. It is not due to dirt. If you experience redness or swelling it is due to bacteria that has entered the clogged pores and infect the areas where there is oil build up. Infected glands can burst, releasing into the surrounding skin, creating additional inflammation. With severe cases, cysts may form in sub dermal layers of the skin.

Acne can be categorized into three levels: Mild acne is a few whiteheads or blackheads and minor inflammation. Moderate acne is larger amounts of whiteheads or blackheads clumped together with mild inflammation and mild pus filled lesions. Severe acne or Cystic acne is large amounts of painful and inflamed deep lesions that can lead to scarring.

Atopic dermatitis

Dermatitis is a chronic skin disorder that causes dry, red, itching, and inflamed skin that comes and goes. Atopic Dermatitis is commonly referred to as Eczema and is quite common affecting 10-15% of people. This skin condition responds well to and can be managed by proper treatment.

Canker Sores

Canker sores are very common; most cases include painful sores in the mouth, typically in on inner lips, gums or cheeks. A canker sore is not a cold sore or fever blister which is caused by the herpes virus. Canker sores are thought to be the result of the immune system fighting a viral infection. Sometimes canker sores appear after injuries, over brushing or biting the tongue or cheek. Canker sores have been found to be a symptom of; stress, lack of nutrition, menstrual cycle, and can hereditary.

Dry Skin (Xerosis)

Dry skin, also referred to as xerosis, is the result of minimal to none of the natural oils that condition our skin. Causes of dry skin include; excessive bathing, low humidity, or can be related to soaps and cleaners used. Several skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis may lead to dry skin. Dry skin is also hereditary and can be recurring at different times of the year depending on climate and time of year. Moisturizers applied daily after baths or showers will keep the skin moist and elevate the itchiness and dry skin.


Psoriasis appears as red, scaly patches typically on the arms, legs, torso and scalp. Psoriasis comes and goes, can be uncomfortable and leave the person disfigured. People with chronic psoriasis typically are embarrassed, have low self-esteem and can develop severe depression, due to the disfiguration. Psoriasis can interfere with everyday life making it hard to sleep or complete daily schedules.

Five types of psoriasis are:

· Plaque Psoriasis (Thick red scaly lesions)

· Guttate Psoriasis (Drop shaped spots, caused by bacterial infections)

· Inverse Psoriasis (Smooth red patches in folds of skin)

· Erythrodermic Psoriasis (Scaly red peeling rash covering body- not very common)

· Pustular Psoriasis (Pus filled blisters -also not very common)

Severity of psoriasis can be measured by how much body coverage there is. Treatment can be tricky especially on the scalp, face, hands, feet, and nails.


Rosacea most commonly occurs in adults 30-50 years of age and typically women are more commonly affected then men. The men that are affected by rosacea tend to develop more severe varieties. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes redness and swelling of the face. Other areas of the body such as the scalp, ears, chest and neck can also be affected. Another form of Rosacea is ocular rosacea which is commonly found in about ½ of the cases. People who blush easily begin to recognize that they have Rosacea which progresses to constant redness, pimples and tiny blood vessels on the face. This skin condition can spread across the face and head. It is thought that Rosacea is caused by genetics and the environment in which the person lives. Over 16 million people in the US have symptoms of Rosacea even though they not realize they have it.

Symptoms of Rosacea:

· Face blushing or flushing easily

· Ongoing facial redness

· Small blood vessels appearing on face

· Burning or stinging in face

· Dry facial skin

· Facial skin may itch or feel tight

· Swelling in center of face

· Bumps and/or pus-filled pimples on face

· Burning, itching or watering of eyes and swollen eyelids

· Nose, forehead or cheek skin thickening

Rosacea can be effectively controlled with treatment and lifestyle changes. With early diagnosis or treatment Rosacea can minimize the symptoms and stop the spreading. Without treatment Rosacea can cause disfiguration.

Skin Cancer Basics

Skin cancer is caused by skin cells regenerating abnormally causing unnatural growths. Most skin cancer appears on the outer layer of skin specifically on areas of the skin damaged by the sun. Most common areas are; face, hands, arms, legs, and head. By doing a skin self-exam catching Skin Cancer early and beginning treatment increases survival rates.

Different types of Skin Cancer fall into one of the following categories:

· Basal cell carcinoma found in lower parts of the epidermis.

· Squamous cell carcinoma is found in the top layers of the skin.

· Melanoma is found in pigment cells called melanin, not as common as Basal or Squamous. Melanoma is a very dangerous type of skin cancer and is the leading cause of death from skin disease.

Varieties of less common types of skin cancers include; cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.

Skin cancer is low risk when damaged or abnormal cells remain clustered in a small group. Skin cancer becomes higher risk when abnormal skin patches spread to surrounding skin, this form of cancer requires a more aggressive treatment. When skin cancer is detected before spreading chances are very high of a complete cure.

Skin cancer often follows lesions or pre-cancers, visually seen as a new or changing mole and should be monitored closely and tracked by your doctor.

Treatment of Skin Cancer begins with diagnosing it usually with a biopsy to determine whether the lesion is cancerous.

Recommended treatments are determined by:

· Skin Cancer type

· Size or shape of the cancer

· Extent of the cancer

· Location

· Number of lesions

· Past History of Skin cancer