Acne is a disease of the oil-producing glands and hair follicles of the skin. The most common areas in which acne occurs are the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. It can cause significant emotional distress and embarrassment and persists, even while under treatment. Scarring can occur, especially with the most severe forms of acne, and the tendency for people with the disease to traumatize the lesions with picking and squeezing. Individual lesions heal slowly and new lesions appear before the older are resolved.
Age Spots – Solar lentigines is the medical term for age spots, sometimes called liver spots. They occur most often on skin which has had the greatest exposure to sun: the face, neck, hands, arms, shoulders and upper back. Age spots are usually flat, and colored brown, black, or gray. They are common after age 40, but can occur in younger people. Some may have an appearance similar to a more serious medical condition.
Dry skin (the medical term is xerosis) can be unattractive, uncomfortable, and embarrassing, but is rarely serious. There is a group of inherited diseases called icthyosis, which are characterized by dry skin, and can be disfiguring. Most dry skin conditions, however, can be alleviated by managing environmental factors such as cold weather, low humidity, and hot baths. It can be temporary, but often problematic only in winter. It can also be a life-long condition. The arms and lower legs are where dry skin tends to be the most severe.
Eczema – Atopic dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. It’s also called eczema. It’s often associated with allergies, hay fever, and asthma. Eczema can occur on any part of the body. Typically, it occurs in the crook of the elbows, wrists, and behind the knees. It’s a chronic condition which tends to cycle between flare-ups and relatively clear periods. There is no cure but it can be treated.
Hives, for which the medical term is urticaria, affect about 20 percent of the population at some time during their lives. The skin lesions start with itching, often extremely intense, followed by swollen, red welts. The welts range in size from small spots to large blotches, roughly oval in shape, and up to several inches in diameter. They sometimes sting or hurt. Hives are often caused by allergies, triggered by exposure to some foods, medications, or other substances.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease appearing on skin. The immune system sends out signals against the body’s own tissues, speeding up growth of skin cells. Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States, afflicting 7.5 million people. It can affect any part of the body. It’s often linked to other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.
Rosacea is a common, chronic, disorder of facial skin that causes redness in the face, often with small, red, puss-filled papules, characterized by flares and remissions. It begins after age 30, as redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead, which waxes and wanes. In some cases, rosacea may also occur on the neck, chest, scalp, or ears. Over time, the redness becomes more persistent, and ruddier. Visible blood vessels may appear. Left untreated, bumps and pimples often develop. In some severe cases, the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. This condition is called rhinophyma. In many patients, the eyes are also affected, feeling irritated and appearing watery or bloodshot.
Stretch marks are known medically as striae distensae. They can affect anyone who has had a growth spurt during the teenage years, in pregnancy, with a rapid weight gain or loss, and in weight lifters. When they occur with pregnancy, they are also called striae gravidarum.
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red, or flesh-colored. They often look like cords and appear twisted and bulging. They may be swollen and raised above the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are often found on the thighs, backs of the legs, or inside the leg. Spider veins are like varicose veins but smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. Often they are red or blue. They can look like tree branches or spider webs, with their short jagged lines. They can be found on the legs and face and can cover either a very small or very large area of skin.