Skin Disorders

Skin is the outer covering of the human body. It plays a significant role in protecting the body against pathogens and excessive loss of water. It also performs other functions such as insulation, sensation, temperature regulation, protection of vitamin B foliates and synthesis of vitamin D.

The skin has three layers:

  • Epidermis: It is the outermost layer of skin, which provides a waterproof barrier and forms the skin tone.
  • Dermis: It is beneath the epidermis. It contains tough connective tissue, sweat glands, and hair follicles.
  • Hypodermis: It is deeper subcutaneous tissue, which is made of fat and connective tissue.

The color of skin is created by special cells known as melanocytes that are located in the epidermis. Melanocytes produce the pigment melanin.

What Are Skin Disorders?

Skin diseases are conditions, which affect the surface of the body including skin, nails, hair and associated glands. They can involve all skin layers and have several causes such as infections, inflammation or tumors. They vary largely in symptoms and severity. They may be painless or painful and can be temporary or permanent. Some of them are minor and other can be lethal.

Symptoms that appear on your skin are not always due to a skin disorder. Such symptoms include the blisters that arise due to new shoes. However, symptoms that arise without any obvious cause may be a sign of an actual skin disorder. Skin disorders have a broad range of symptoms. Following are the common signs of skin disorders:

  • Redness
  • Itch
  • Swelling
  • scaly skin
  • Oozing
  • Rash
  • Blisters
  • Bumps or growths
  • peeling skin
  • ulcers
  • open sores or lesions
  • discolored patches of skin
  • a loss of skin pigment

Common causes of skin disorders are:

  • bacteria trapped in hair follicles and skin pores
  • fungus, parasites, or other microbes living on the skin
  • viruses
  • a weakened immune system
  • contact with the infected skin of another person, allergens or irritants
  • genetic factors
  • illnesses affecting the immune system, thyroid, kidneys, and other systems of the body

Several skin disorders do not have known cause. However, many medical conditions and lifestyle factors as follows can result in skin disorders.

Inflammatory bowel disease: Bowel-related diseases usually cause skin disorders. The drugs used in the treatment of these disorders can cause some skin problems such as:

  • skin tags
  • anal fissures
  • vitiligo
  • allergic eczema

Diabetes: Many diabetic patients suffer skin problem due to their condition at a certain point because the disease elevates the risk of infection and blood circulation issues. The skin conditions that can arise due to diabetes include:

  • bacterial infections
  • fungal infections
  • diabetic blisters
  • digital sclerosis

Lupus: It is a chronic inflammatory disorder, which can damage the joints, skin or organs of the body. Following are the common skin conditions that develop from lupus include:

  • round lesions on the face and head
  • thick, red, scaly lesions
  • sores inside the mouth and nose
  • tiny red spots on the legs

Pregnancy: Pregnancy arises significant changes in the levels of hormones which may result in skin disorders. Most of the skin conditions that occur during pregnancy go away after the birth of a baby. Common skin conditions that develop during pregnancy include:

  • stretch marks
  • melasma
  • eczema

Stress: It can cause hormonal imbalances that trigger skin conditions. Stress-related skin conditions include:

  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • acne
  • vitiligo
  • hives

Sun: The sun can cause the occurrence of many skin diseases. Some are minor, while others life-threatening. Sunlight exposure may aggravate the following conditions:

  • moles
  • wrinkles
  • sunburn
  • skin cancer
  • photosensitivity

Doctors can detect most skin diseases through physical examination. A full skin test includes an examination of the scalp, mucous membranes, and nails. In case, a physical examination is not enough doctors may recommend certain tests to identify the skin disorder.

  • Biopsy: In this test small piece of skin is removed for examination under a microscope by numbing small area with local anesthesia.
  • Scrapings: This test is usually done if a fungal infection or scabies is suspected. In this test, the doctor scrapes off some material from the skin and examines it under a microscope.
  • Culture: If an infection is suspected, a sample of skin such as a skin scraping is sent to a laboratory, where the specimen is placed in a culture medium to identify the microbe.
  • Wood light: This test is used when certain skin infections are suspected. In this test, the skin is illuminated with an ultraviolet light in a dark room to identify the infection.
  • Tzanck testing: This test is done to diagnose certain diseases caused by viruses. In this test, the doctor removes the top of a blister with a sharp blade and scrapes the blister with a scalpel to obtain fluid to identify the infection.
  • Diascopy: In this test, a doctor presses a microscope slide against a lesion to observe if it whitens or changes color.
  • Skin tests: Skin tests include a patch test, a prick test, and an intradermal test. They are done if a doctor suspects an allergic reaction.

There are many treatments available for skin disorders depending on the symptoms, and the severity of their symptoms. Usually, ointments, creams, gels, and other treatments are applied directly to the skin. Sometimes, the doctor may also prescribe oral or injectable medications. Skin cancer may need surgery.

Common treatments for skin diseases are:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Anti-virals
  • Anti-fungals
  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Light therapy
  • Surgery

Some skin conditions are not preventable such as genetic conditions and some skin conditions due to other illnesses. However, you can prevent some skin conditions by following the below mentions ways to prevent infectious skin disorders:

  • Wash your hands with soap frequently
  • Avoid sharing utensils with other people
  • Avoid direct skin contact with people who have an infection
  • Clean things in public spaces before using them
  • Do not share personal items, such as blankets or hairbrushes
  • Sleep for at least seven hours every night
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get vaccinated for infectious skin diseases

Noninfectious skin disorders, such as eczema and acne, are preventable in some cases. Following measures can help to prevent some noninfectious skin diseases:

  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser every day
  • Use moisturizer.
  • Avoid environmental allergens and contact with harsh chemicals
  • Sleep for at least seven hours each night.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Protect your skin from excessive wind, cold and heat
  • Avoid excessive physical and emotional stress