What Are Skin Problems?
The biggest organ in your body is your skin. It protects and covers your body. When the sun shines on your skin it produces vitamin D, keeps bodily fluids in, prevents dehydration, keeps dangerous germs out, prevents infections, helps you feel things like heat, cold, and pain, and keeps your body temperature consistent. Anything that irritates, clogs, or inflames your skin can contribute to skin problems including redness, swelling, burning, and itching. Rashes, hives, and other skin issues can be caused by allergies, irritants, genetic makeup, and certain illnesses and immune system disorders. These also affect your looks.
Most Common Skin Problems
Some of the most common skin problems are:
A skin problem where the air follicles under the skin become clogged leads to acne formation. Our skin contains sebum oil which helps the skin not get dry. But some dead skin cells often clog the pores through which this oil is secreted and leads to outbreaks of pimples or zits. These outbreaks mostly occur on the skin but can also appear on the back, shoulders, and chest.
Causes of Acne
Acne causes inflammation of the skin. In normal healthy skin, the sebaceous glands release the oil directly onto the skin surface through a pore. The pose is also an opening for the hair follicle and is lined by the skin cell called keratinocytes.
When the body sheds skin cells these keratinocytes rise onto the surface of the skin releasing sebum oil. When you have acne, then this hair, sebum, and keratinocytes stick together inside the pore which prevents the skin cells from shedding and releasing sebum oil.
This causes the growth of the bacteria which grow in the presence of clogged pores causing swelling, redness, heat, and pain. The wall of plugged follicle breaks down and causes a spill of bacteria, skin cells, and sebum in the nearby skin spreading the infection. This leads to the formation of pimples.
Age Group Affected
Acne can occur to any person at any age but it is most commonly found in young adults and teenagers. Acne usually disappears as the person ages but for some, it may reappear or remain for a long period of time.
Types of Acne
There are different types of acne which include whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pimples, nodules, and nodular acne. Whiteheads are the clogged hair follicles that remain beneath the skin and produce a white bump. The blackheads are the clogged hair follicles that reach the surface of the skin and due to contact with air, they become black in colour.
Papules are small pink bumps that are tender to touch. Pimples are white pus-filled papules. Nodules are large, painful solid lesions that are rooted deep within the skin and when they get filled with pus they cause severe nodular acne.
Treatment of Acne
The treatment of acne can be done through medicines that can reduce inflammation, lower the sebum oil level and reduce the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics that have benzoyl peroxide kill the bacteria and decrease the production of sebum. Resorcinol, sulfur, and salicylic acid are helpful in the removal of blackheads and whiteheads. Vitamin A reduces inflammation and prevents the formation of acne.
These medicines generally come in the form of gels, lotion, soaps, or creams. Medicines should be taken under a proper prescription as some of the medicines cause extreme side effects. In case of severe acne, laser treatments may be required by the person. There are also surgical options available that can treat and repair scarring caused due to severe acne.
Psoriasis is considered a chronic skin problem that causes the immune system to become overactive. This leads to the rapid formation of skin cells as they multiply quickly. The most affected parts of the body by the disease are the scalp, elbows, and knees.
Causes of Psoriasis
In psoriasis, the immune cells become overactive and produce molecules that cause rapid production of the skin cells which leads to inflamed and scaly skin. Causes of psoriasis are unknown but it can be related to the genetic makeup of the person or may be due to the environmental factor. Infections like HIV affect the immune system and can cause psoriasis. Certain medicines, smoking, and obesity might also cause psoriasis.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
The symptoms of psoriasis are patches of thick red skin, itching and burning sensation, dry or cracked skin, and thick pitted nails. Some people get psoriatic arthritis which causes swollen painful joints and is considered the most destructive form of arthritis. Psoriasis may get worse and form flares. The symptoms of the disease vary from person to person and it generally gets cured after some period of time.
Treatment of Psoriasis
There is no permanent solution available for the skin problem but you can reduce the symptoms by taking medicines that your doctor prescribes. Topical medicines are available in the form of creams, ointments, and lotions containing corticosteroids, vitamin D, retinoids, and anthralin. Injected and oral medicines are also available for this skin problem.
Medicines that suppress the immune system like methotrexate are used for treatment. In severe cases, immunosuppressants are used for the patients. Phototherapy is another type of treatment in which UV light is used on the affected skin by the doctor.
This is a chronic skin problem that causes skin reddening and pimples. In advanced stages, it also affects the vision of the person and causes the skin to become thicker. A cure for rosacea is not yet available but with proper treatment, the effects of the disease can be reduced to a certain level. This skin problem affects middle-aged people and older adults. It is more common among women who are going through their menopause.
Causes of Rosacea
Rosacea causes the skin to turn red in colour especially around the centre of your face which includes the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. The reddening of the skin can also cause a swollen and burning sensation on your face. The other parts of the body are rarely affected by skin problems.
In the advanced stage of rosacea, your skin becomes thicker and you can have both vascular and inflammatory rosacea. Rosacea is also known to cause eye problems like dry eyes, burning sensation in the eyes, gritty texture, and watery eyes which leads to blurred vision or increased sensitivity to the light.
The causes of rosacea are still unknown but it is believed that the skin problem is caused due to dilation of the blood vessels leading to redness of the skin.
Treatment of Rosacea
Treatment to cure rosacea is not available but to reduce the symptoms your doctor might suggest you take medicines that you can apply directly onto your skin for several months till your skin starts to look less red. If any eye problems arise due to the skin problem then you can take steroid eye drops prescribed by the doctor.
Also, proper cleaning of skin and eyes would reduce the symptoms of the skin problem. Rosacea gets affected by factors like sunlight, wind, cold temperatures, spicy food, menopause, emotional stress, and bacteria.
Scleroderma is a skin problem that is caused due to improper functioning of the autoimmune system. In this, the immune system sends a false response to the tissues of being injured which causes inflammation on the skin and excess secretion of collagen takes place. The presence of excess amounts of collagen in your skin leads to the formation of tight and hard skin.
Scleroderma can be divided into two types namely localized scleroderma and systemic scleroderma. Localized scleroderma affects the skin and the structures present under the skin but systemic scleroderma affects organs as well as blood vessels. There is no permanent cure available for the disease but treatments to relieve the symptoms and slow down the progression of this skin problem are available.
Symptoms of Scleroderma
Symptoms of scleroderma depend upon the type of condition you have. If you have localized scleroderma then it can cause patches of thick and hard skin which may appear in oval shape or thick lines of a different colour other than your skin appears on arms and legs. The patches may stay in one area or may spread to other body parts (areas of skin). Systemic scleroderma spreads quickly in the body and thickening of the tissues present on the skin and organs takes place. It affects the lungs, kidneys, digestive organs, and heart.
Causes of Scleroderma
There is no particular cause as to why the autoimmune system responds in a false manner but there are factors that are associated with this skin problem. The genetic makeup of the person puts them at a higher risk of developing skin problems.
This skin problem is not genetically inherited but if you have parents suffering from scleroderma or have first relatives suffering from the disease then there are higher chances of you suffering from scleroderma when compared to the general population.
Environmental factors like viruses or chemicals may trigger the autoimmune system to send false signals. Hormonal and immune system changes can also lead to scleroderma.
Treatment of Scleroderma
Treatment of scleroderma depends upon the type and organs or tissues affected. The medicines prescribed by the doctors would give temporary relief and would limit the damage as no permanent cure for the skin problem is available. Medicines include anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, immuno-suppressants, and vasodilators. Corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory are used to reduce inflammation and tightness in the skin.
Immuno-suppressants are used to reduce the response of the overactive autoimmune system and vasodilators are used in dilating the blood vessels to prevent damage to internal organs. Scleroderma makes the mouth dry and damages the connective tissues present in the mouth which makes it necessary to brush and floss your teeth regularly and maintain proper dental hygiene.
Vitiligo is a chronic skin problem that causes the skin to lose its pigment. Melanocytes are responsible for imparting and giving us a distinguished skin colour. Higher levels of melanocytes are present in the dark-coloured skin and low levels of melanocytes are present in the light-coloured skin. When these melanocytes are attacked and destroyed by the body then they turn skin into white colour which appears in the form of patches.
Types of Vitiligo
There are two types of vitiligo namely non-segmental and segmental. The non-segmental or generalized vitiligo is the most common type and occurs in symmetry which means that both your hands or knees get affected at the same spot. This is the most progressive form of vitiligo and loss of pigment occurs in large areas.
The segmental vitiligo is less common and the white patches appear in an asymmetrical form which means the patches will appear in one of the hands, knees, or legs. It occurs in the early childhood stage and stops after some years.
Causes of Scleroderma
Vitiligo is known to be caused due to improper functioning of the autoimmune system which attacks and destroys melanocytes. People suffering from autoimmune diseases like Addison’s disease, psoriasis, thyroid, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis are at risk of developing vitiligo.
The main symptom of this skin problem is the appearance of white patches on the skin due to depigmentation. Depigmentation occurs when there is a loss of pigment or colour causing the skin to turn white. Your hair may also turn white if white patches are present on your head. Uveitis is an eye condition that occurs due to vitiligo. People suffering from vitiligo may have low self-esteem as they may develop concerns about their appearance.
Treatment of Scleroderma
Treatment of this skin problem focuses on improving the immune system and encouraging the growth of more melanocytes which may help in the restoration of the skin colour. The treatment response varies from person to person and takes time.
The doctor might prescribe you medicines that may contain corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors. The use of phototherapy can be done to help with the recovery of the colour of the skin.
Depigmentation of the darker areas of the body will make skin colour look more even. This is prescribed to people who have more than half of their bodies covered in white patches. Other surgical options like skin grafting can also be done under the prescription of a doctor.
Living With The Skin Problems
The skin problems are treated by dermatologists who have specialization in the disorders of skin, hair and nails. Other specialists like ophthalmologists may help you in preventing any vision problems due to the disease and may prescribe some eye drops regarding the same.
Living with skin problems is hard for people. It may affect the mental well-being of the person as they may be conscious of different types of skin. Some people feel shy and have lower self-esteem due to their looks and disease. Such people tend to suffer from anxiety and depression.
Reaching out to friends, receiving therapy and making people aware of the skin problems would make them considerate towards the disease. You should also develop self-love as it will boost your confidence and will help you fight skin problems.
A Word From Mantra Care
Your mental health — your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges.
At Mantra Care, we have a team of therapists who provide affordable online therapy to assist you with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, relationship, OCD, LGBTQ, and PTSD. You can take our mental health test. You can also book a free therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.