HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Skin Disorders

By Angela Young

The skin is the largest organ of the body although most people don't think of skin as an organ. The purpose of the skin is to protect the body and the internal organs from damage and infection. Protecting the skin is one of the most important and most overlooked aspects of a person's health.

Skin renews itself at least once a month by shedding dead skin cells. Skin also changes over a person's lifetime. The epidermis, which is the top layer of skin, is responsible for skin's overall appearance. The epidermis holds the majority of the water found in the skin. The other layers of the skin are the dermis, which is the middle layer and the hypodermis.

A main factor of skin composition is water. Younger bodies have water in the skin. As skin ages it loses the ability to maintain as much water as the younger skin. This means that as people age their skin dries out and wrinkles become more prominent.

Problem of the skin are more than just drying out. There are chronic skin issues such as acne and psoriasis and there are skin issues that a person can avoid such as sunburn and other environmental factors. There are also issues such as skin cancer and birthmarks.

Skin Disorders Symptoms

Most skin problem symptoms are easy to notice because they are usually visible on the top layer of the skin. Problems include rashes, burns, scars, skin cancer and various forms of infections. Symptoms of skin problems are dependant on the type of skin problem in question.

Symptoms of skin rashes usually include hives, redness, itching skin and sometimes lesions develop. Some skin rashes such as eczema are chronic conditions, but most others are very treatable.

Symptoms of skin cancer include moles that change shape or color, sores that will not heal, flat scaly areas of the skin that are red or brown and new or unusual growths. Skin cancer symptoms can be easy to ignore and may be difficult to detect depending on where the cancer develops.

Skin Disorders Causes

Causes of most skin problems are environmental. Most rashes develop because of contact with an irritant. Skin cancer typically develops because of over exposure to UV rays from the sun. Acne, however tends to run in families suggesting a genetic predisposition to develop acne, although the true cause of acne is not completely understood.

Diet, genetics, exposure to environmental aggressors, hygiene and exposure to viruses can cause various skin problems.

Skin Disorders Diagnosis

There are several ways a doctor may diagnose skin problems. Doctors are usually able to diagnose most skin problems through simple observation. However, if a person has a skin issue that the doctor cannot diagnose there are a few tests that doctors may run.

There is the patch test. In a patch test, doctors place allergens on the skin with adhesive patches and then observe any reactions on the skin after a period of time.

Doctors may also do skin biopsies or skin cultures. Biopsies of the skin require doctors to remove some of the skin and then the laboratory examines the skin for cancer cells. Patients receive a local anesthetic for this procedure and depending on the size of the biopsy stitches may be necessary. Skin cultures are the common test when a doctor is trying to diagnose skin infections and other skin problems where bacteria are the suspected cause.

Skin Disorders Treatment

Treatment of skin problems depends on the type of skin problems a person has. Most rashes require moisturizers and anti-itch medications. There are also a host of medications available to treat various skin problems. Skin cancer treatment usually requires removal of the cancer through surgery and if the cancer has spread, treatment can include chemotherapy and radiation. It is best to speak with a dermatologist to receive a proper diagnosis and to receive proper treatment for skin problems.


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