Your skin is your largest organ and can easily reflect the state of your overall wellness. If you’re healthy, your skin will glow and look clear. But if you have a health problem, your skin can show it in various ways, such as a rash or an acne outbreak.
While people may think they’re superficial, skin problems can actually be a serious source of anxiety, making people self-conscious and feel less attractive.
The good news is that most skin problems are quite common and are fairly easy to manage, and knowing the root cause can help you determine how to treat it effectively. It’s important to note that some skin problems are chronic and would need drastic measures to be contained. Others are acute and mild and can be treated with little care and hygienic practices.
Below, you’ll learn about common skin problems and the best ways to manage them.
1. Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is an infection caused by a fungus. Men are more at risk of getting infected than women. It’s also contagious and can spread via contaminated surfaces such as towels, linen, and shower floors. If left untreated, it can spread to your groin, hands, and nails.
Symptoms will typically start between your toes. You’ll notice inflamed, flaking skin and experience itching from blisters, which worsens when you take off your shoes and socks. A certain variety of athlete’s foot, the moccasin-type, may cause permanent dryness on your infected foot. It’s easy to mistake its effects with eczema as it’s also scaly. If you have this variety, it can spread to the side of the infected foot.
Most athlete’s foot infections can be treated. You can go to the pharmacy and ask for an anti-fungal cream. It’s best to explain your symptoms to the pharmacist as it will help them give you the most effective treatment. If possible, let the pharmacist or in-house pharmacy nurse inspect the infected area before giving you a solution.
How To Prevent Athlete’s Foot:
- If you have sweaty feet, use breathable socks and change them twice a day.
- Use anti-fungal powder on your feet.
- Don’t walk barefoot in public areas, especially at gym showers.
- Don’t wear tight-fitting shoes and buy shoes made from breathable materials.
Eczema, otherwise known as atopic dermatitis, is a very common skin problem that affects both the young and old. Even babies aren’t safe from this skin problem. Different types of eczemas include dermatitis, dyshidrotic dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis. These variations are slightly different from each other in the following ways: the body parts they affect, symptoms, and timing (when it’s most prevalent).
The exact causes of eczema are still unknown. However, it has been noted to be the body’s reaction to fighting off bad proteins such as those from bacteria and viruses. Some things that could trigger eczema include reactions to hot temperatures, sweat, dirt, stress, or chemicals from body sprays.
Common symptoms of eczema include appearances of thick, scaly, rough skin patches that easily flake off. Eczema is also itchy and inflames the skin. However, because there are different eczema variations, the symptoms may differ slightly.
Eczema is mostly a mild skin problem. However, it can become complicated if it becomes infected from scratching. In the case of an infection, the patient will need to use antibiotics to treat the infection.
Managing eczema could include the use of corticosteroids creams, light therapy or phototherapy, and injections.
How To Prevent Eczema:
- Practicing simple hygiene by keeping your environment clean.
- Staying away from allergy-causing body sprays or chemicals.
- Keeping your environment cool.
Some skin problems could be described as severe and dangerous, especially if left untreated. Also known as Rubeola, measles belongs to this category of skin problems. It is a viral infection that spreads through the air, especially when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Some of the symptoms of measles include colds, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever, and rashes. Measles can further degenerate into complications like pneumonia, ear infection, or brain inflammation if left untreated.
The first sign of measles infection is a high fever associated with colds and a runny nose followed closely by rashes that can spread from the head to the foot. Soon after, the infection spreads to the mouth as tiny sore spots, making eating and swallowing difficult. These tiny mouth spots are known as kolpik spots named after Henry Kolpik, the first man to describe measles symptoms in 1896.
If a measles infection is already established to be fully blown, there may be no particular treatment. However, symptoms can be managed, and you can be protected, especially if you’re in a vulnerable state. This can be done by vaccinating infected persons, especially children, within a 72-hour window period after exposure to the measles virus. This could make the infection last for a short period, and the symptoms tolerable.
If your immune system is low, especially if you’re pregnant, elderly, or a child, you may be boosted with the immune serum globulin. This is given within six days of exposure to the virus to boost immunity and make the symptoms tolerable.
You can also use some over-the-counter medicines to relieve fever symptoms. Some of these medicines include ibuprofen, acetaminophen. Other that could be used include vitamin A, anti-biotics, etc.
Aside from the use of medications, some home therapies might reduce the severity of measles. These include resting, drinking enough water, using a humidifier, and sometimes using sunglasses to reduce the pain in your eyes.
How To Prevent Measles
- Measles can be prevented through vaccines. This is highly important to prevent an outbreak and control the spread of measles. This also is why children get shots to prevent infection as they grow. The first dose should be taken at one year of age, and the second dose should be taken at age three.
Unlike measles and athlete’s foot, psoriasis isn’t contagious. However, it’s a common skin problem and could be hereditary. It’s usually characterized by thick red patches of scaly skin, which often affect the scalp, the lower back or the knee. However, it’s not limited to these body parts and can affect any part of the body.
Psoriasis can be triggered by stress, emotional imbalances, surgeries, or even infections.
The first signs of psoriasis appear as tiny colored bumps that get bigger in days and develop into scales. People with psoriasis should note that even though the skin looks thick, it can easily bleed out if scratched. You may also experience pains in your joints and nails. Other symptoms that accompany psoriasis include depression, itching, and plaque formation in the affected skin area.
The major focus of treating and managing psoriasis is removing the thick patches of scaly skin. To achieve this result, the use of topical creams, phototherapy, and drugs can help.
Over-the-counter drugs, like loratadine, can help with the itching and discomfort. The use of vitamin A and some immunosuppressants can also bring relief and encourage the growth of new skin cells.
How To Prevent Psoriasis
- To prevent psoriasis, it’s important to use some good moisturizing lotions, drinks lots of water, avoid stress, and enjoy some sun time. To prevent the skin from drying out, use a humidifier.
Even though acne is a common skin issue for most adolescents, it can also affect adults of any age, especially people with oily skin. This particular skin problem mostly occurs on the face, but it can also appear on the back skin, chest skin, shoulders, or thighs.
Acne is mostly caused by heredity and hormones. Hormonal fluctuations cause an increase in sebum production, thus leading to more oil on the skin, making the skin more susceptible to acne. Hormonal fluctuations may also heighten acne by causing skin inflammation, clogged pores, and the production of Propionibacterium acnes, an acne-causing bacterium.
Both males and females are susceptible to acne, and factors like stress, contraceptive pills, and injections can also increase acne in the body.
The general symptoms of acne include blackheads, pimples, skin redness, and big bumps. These usually appear on the face, though it can spread to the neck and back, too.
How To Prevent Acne:
- Some acne management items you can try include topical creams and ointments, antiseptic soap, face cleansers, and medicated wipes. In case of an infection, an antibiotic can also be used.
- Get adequate knowledge of your skin type. This helps you pick the right soap and cream for your skin.
- Ensure you properly wash your body, especially your face, as it’s often the most susceptible area of your body. Washing will prevent pores from clogging, removing dirt and sweat that can easily lead to acne.
- Use moisturizers to prevent the skin from drying out.
- Use sun protection when outside.
- Use clean sheets and pillowcases.
- Eat a balanced diet.
Another name for hives is urticaria. It’s a common skin rash problem caused by allergies to food, medications, or triggers like stress. The general symptoms for hives include itching, inflammation, and swelling also known as welts. Welts differ in shapes and sizes, and can appear anywhere in the body, from the face to the lips, or even ears.
There are different types of hives, which include:
- Acute Hives: An allergic reaction to certain foods or medications and can last for up to, but not more than, six weeks. Food that triggers acute hives are chocolates, tomatoes, nuts, etc.
- Chronic Hives: These take longer to treat than acute hives, lasting for longer than six weeks. Their causes or triggers aren’t yet known, though it has been discovered that people with underlying health conditions like cancer or hepatitis are more susceptible to hives.
- Physical Hives: These are more a result of contact with physical irritants to the skin. Such irritants include heat, sweat, exposure to the sun, or physical exercise.
- Dermatographia: Lastly, dermatographia is a unique skin condition that occurs when people with the condition scratch their skin. The scratches leave a form of reddened wheals on the skin similar to physical hives. Dermatographia is temporary and usually disappears within 30 minutes.
Common symptoms of hives include swollen skin, inflammation, itching, etc. To manage hives, you need to lower your stress levels. Without any medication, hives can disappear by themselves. Nonetheless, the use of anti-histamines, cold compress, and anti-inflammatory medicines could be of immense help.
How To Prevent Hives:
- Prevention is always better than cure. To prevent hives, you should identify what triggers your allergies and stay away from them.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. Rather, dress in loose clothing to encourage proper air and blood circulation.
Also known as a vesicle, this skin condition usually appears as slightly raised skin filled with liquid. Blisters could be painful and annoying as any attempt to burst the blister could result in a bigger surface wound.
Most times, people get blisters from wearing ill-fitted shoes or hot water burns. Nonetheless, a lot of other skin problems can also cause blisters, like cold sores, chickenpox, shingles, genital herpes, contact dermatitis, and allergic eczema. Even though blisters could be annoying, they’re not life-threatening and would usually disappear on their own or as soon as the underlying cause is treated.
Symptoms of blisters include clear liquid filled with painful, raised skin. These usually appear in the feet, but could also affect any area of the body.
Avoid bursting the blister and instead manage it by gently cleansing the affected area. You can also apply an antiseptic ointment and cover the area loosely with a bandage.
How To Prevent Blisters:
- To prevent blisters, especially those on the feet, you should wear the proper shoe size and avoid tight-fitting footwear.
- Wear loose socks as these won’t be too tight on your toes, giving your feet space to breathe.
- Always keep your feet dry and apply lotion on them.
8. Cold Sores
This is a common skin problem accompanied by painful blisters. They usually appear in the face region, especially in the mouth. On rare occasions, they can be found on the nose or the fingers.
Cold sores can be associated with the herpes simplex virus. They’re also highly contagious, especially if contact is made with the fluid from the blisters.
Symptoms of cold sores include skin burns or tingling sensations. Liquid-filled blisters could also appear in the affected region. Fever and muscle aches are also common with cold sores. Because of its highly contagious nature, it’s advised that you stay away from sharing cutleries or cosmetics with an infected person.
Cold sores are viral infections and could be treated with anti-viral drugs. These treatments could include topical creams to apply to the sores, or medicine to take orally. Asides from this, you could also apply a cold compress to soothe the cold sore and relieve the pain.
How To Prevent Cold Sores:
- Avoid allergy triggers such as cold or stress.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Stay away from using or sharing blades and any other object with others to avoid infection.
- Use sunscreen and lip balm, especially when you’re going into the cold.
Most people have experienced skin problems. For that reason, it’s important to educate yourself about different types of skin problems and how to manage them. That way, you’ll know what to do if ever you have to deal with it.
Common skin conditions include acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, and blisters. You can manage most with home-treatments and over-the-counter medicines. With contagious skin conditions, such as athlete’s foot, you should avoid moving barefoot in public places as some surfaces may be contaminated.
Lastly, lifestyle changes—such as learning to manage stress and a change in diet—can help prevent skin problems.