Skin Conditions & Treatment Options

Many times, issues with the skin, hair and nails can be resolved without a trip to the doctor. But if over-the-counter cleansers, lotions and creams don’t do the trick, it’s time to see a dermatologist, a physician that specializes in conditions and disease of the skin.

Acne

Acne starts in the deepest layer of the skin, near the oil glands. When the glands become plugged with dead skin and oil or the skin’s bacteria overgrows, acne develops. Stress, hormones and genetics can also play a part. Other things that can make acne worse include:

  • Frequent or hard scrubbing, and using harsh scrubs and astringents
  • Heavy sweating
  • Oil-based cosmetics
  • Skin rubbing against clothing
  • Some birth control pills

Treatment Options

When looking for an over-the-counter solution, your best bet is a gentle cleaner. Benzoyl peroxide can be helpful for certain types of acne, but can irritate others. With makeup and sunscreen, look for “non-comedogenic” products.

Once acne is present, it will disappear only after the skin has shed and a new layer of skin has developed. This means it can take about 8 weeks to notice the effects of a new treatment.

If store-bought options aren’t working, a dermatologist can offer other solutions such as antibiotics, topical medications and laser treatments.

Birthmarks

Birthmarks are caused by an overgrowth of cells. There are two common types of birthmarks: vascular and pigmented. Vascular birthmarks are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels and pigmented birthmarks are caused by an overgrowth of the cells that determine skin pigmentation. Birthmarks come in a variety of forms ranging from small or large, flat or raised and can be many colors including black, brown, blue, purple, red or pink.

Treatment Options

Many birthmarks will fade over time. In these cases, observation is the best option. For birthmarks that are permanent or potentially damaging, several factors need to be weighed when determining the best treatment.

When the decision is made to treat or remove a birthmark, medications, lasers and surgical removal are options. In some cases, the decision to treat can be postponed until a child is older and can participate in the decision. In other cases, treatment is most effective during infancy.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin rash caused by something that touches the skin and causes irritation or inflammation. Your skin may be red, swollen, dry, cracked and itch. The rash should go away in a few days but can last a few weeks.

If you get a rash, it’s important to figure out what caused it so the irritant can be avoided in the future.

Treatment Options

There are many home remedies that can help reduce your discomfort while your rash heals.

  • Take cool showers and avoid direct sunlight
  • Apply a cool compress or wet dressings
  • Take a bath with colloidal (finely ground) oatmeal
  • Use a hydrocortisone cream
  • Take an antihistamine

See a doctor if your rash:

  • Spreads or swells
  • Begins to smell
  • Blisters and opens, and develops a yellow-brown crust
  • Causes you to develop a fever

Eczema

Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a hereditary and chronic skin disorder that mostly affects young children but can continue into adulthood. Eczema causes the skin to itch, turn red and flake. Eczema can flare up due to stress, extreme temperatures, fabrics and detergents.

Treatment Options

Eczema does not currently have a cure. Treatment aims to reduce itching and inflammation, moisturize the skin and prevent infection. Options include antihistamines, steroid creams, antibiotics, light therapy and topical medications.

Moles

Moles are small pigmented marks on the skin. For the most part, moles are noncancerous and nothing to worry about, but if you have a mole you don’t like, it can usually be removed.

Moles that appear after you are 30 or that change in certain ways may become a problem. These moles may turn into melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Since some moles can become cancerous, it’s important to regularly check your moles to make sure there are no changes.

When to See a Doctor

If you notice any of the following changes with your moles, you should schedule an appointment to meet with a doctor or dermatologist:

  • Size, shape, color, or elevation changes
  • Asymmetric sides
  • Ragged, notched, or blurred borders
  • Varying colors within the same mole
  • The mole is larger than 5 mm or 6 mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser)

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease where the skin grows too fast. Dead skin cells build up on the skin’s surface to form inflamed, thick, silvery scales called plaques. You can also form small lesions that hurt or have pus in them. Stress, infections and certain medications may cause a flare up, but you can’t spread it to another person.

Treatment Options

You can treat your psoriasis with medications, including oral, injected and topical. But it’s also important that you manage your symptoms. Suggestions to keep your psoriasis under control include:

  • Take a 15-minute warm bath
  • After a shower or bath, apply lotion to your damp skin
  • Use relaxation techniques to manage stress
  • See a doctor right away if you have a skin injury
  • Expose the part of your skin with psoriasis to the sun for 5 minutes a day, using sunscreen on the other parts of your skin
  • Use hydrocortisone cream
  • Avoid harsh cleansers and detergent and household cleaners

Rosacea

Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that causes facial redness and is made worse with sun exposure, heat, or by eating spicy foods, drinking alcohol, or getting embarrassed.

Symptoms of rosacea include:

  • Flushing of the face
  • Dilated blood vessels that can cause a web-like pattern on the face
  • Acne-like lesions
  • An enlargement of the nose caused by thickening of the skin.

Treatment Options

There is no cure for rosacea but most cases can be controlled. Your doctor may prescribe daily topical treatments or oral medications. You’ll also want to avoid things that can easily cause your rosacea to flare up. In more severe cases, surgery can help with scarring of the nose.

Additional things you can do to help are:

  • Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser
  • Don’t scrub your skin or use harsh scrubs or astringents
  • Use an electric razor if you shave your face
  • Use sunscreen
  • Use oil-free and fragrance-free skin care products and makeup

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