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Common Skin Ailments and their Treatments

For millions of people, skin ailments are a fact of life. Most of these conditions are not a threat to an individual's overall health, but this does not mean that they should be taken lightly. Skin disorders are often impossible to hide from the rest of the world and can easily become a source of humiliation. They can also cause frequent physical discomfort. Acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and calluses are some of the most common skin ailments. Although these disorders can be embarrassing and even debilitating at times, they can become manageable with the proper treatment.


Acne is a skin disorder that causes pimples to break out on the skin. It usually appears on the face, but can also appear on the chest, back, or shoulders. Acne can affect anyone; however, it is most frequently a problem for teenagers, young adults, and pregnant women. Scientists are not completely certain about what causes acne, but most agree that hormonal changes play a part in its appearance. They have also determined that certain myths about acne, such as the idea that it is caused by eating too much chocolate, are not true. Acne breakouts vary greatly in severity. Some people may occasionally get a pimple or two, while others constantly have to deal with numerous, widespread pimples. Acne can be damaging to the self-esteem, especially when it leaves scars on the face. For some individuals, washing the skin regularly with soap and warm water is enough to improve acne or eliminate it completely. Others may benefit from using over-the-counter face washes that are geared toward alleviating breakouts. Those who suffer from severe or persistent breakouts should consult a dermatologist, who will likely prescribe a stronger face wash or a topical cream. If an acne sufferer is female, the dermatologist may prescribe birth control pills as an alternative treatment.


Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to swell and become red, itchy, and flaky. Eczema rashes can bleed or ooze fluid when they are scratched; they can also become brown and crusty. Eczema is quite common among young children, although it can also affect adults. People who suffer from eczema often suffer from allergies, asthma, or hay fever as well. Atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema, has also been linked to hereditary factors. Dust, cigarette smoke, laundry detergents, soaps, and even hot shower water can trigger the onset of an eczema rash. Although they can appear in other places, eczema rashes most often pop up on the backs of the hands, the tops of the feet, the insides of the elbows, and the backs of the knees. Sometimes, wearing cotton clothing, using a different type of soap or shampoo, reducing one's exposure to hot water, or reducing one's exposure to allergens can be enough to prevent new breakouts of eczema. If these lifestyle changes are ineffective, the eczema sufferer should visit a dermatologist. His or her doctor will probably prescribe a cortisone-based topical cream to reduce or eliminate flare-ups of eczema.


This genetic condition typically affects adults, although it not unheard of in children. It occurs when the body produces new skin cells more rapidly and frequently than it should. The new cells appear in patches of various sizes on the surface of the skin. Sometimes, these patches can become widespread. Psoriasis patches can be red or silvery in color and are often quite thick. They usually appear on the scalp, neck, elbows, or knees, but they are common on the back and legs as well. In severe cases of psoriasis, the patches are large and may become itchy or painful. Stress, illness, and excessive exposure to the sun can cause psoriasis flare-ups or make them worse. Consuming alcohol or smoking can also bring on or intensify the symptoms of psoriasis. Keeping the skin moisturized is a key part of treating this skin condition. People with milder cases of psoriasis can usually alleviate their symptoms by purchasing lotions and reducing their time in the sun. Those with more severe cases should consult a dermatologist, who can prescribe a stronger lotion or cream.


This condition is relatively common among adults over the age of 30. Rosacea causes the skin on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin to remain a constant shade of red. Small bumps and pimples can also appear on the affected areas of the face. People who blush easily and have fair skin are more prone to developing this disease than others. Rosacea tends to flare up for weeks or months at a time. Exercise, exposure to the sun, and the consumption of spicy foods and alcohol can all aggravate rosacea. People who suffer from rosacea usually see it as an embarrassing condition, but in severe cases it can cause the skin to become waxy or cause vision problems. Most of the time, pills and medicated creams are enough to minimize the effects of rosacea.


Calluses are thick, hardened pieces of skin that develop on the hands and feet. When they develop in a particular shape (usually on the toes), they are called corns. Calluses form when an area of the skin repeatedly rubs against an object. For example, someone who plays the guitar might get calluses on his or her fingers from constant contact with the strings. Calluses eventually disappear on their own; however, the simplest way to help a callus disappear is to keep the affected area of skin from rubbing against the object that caused the initial pressure. Using a softening cream or rubbing the callus with a pumice stone can also be helpful. If a callus is particularly painful, a dermatologist can trim it off. Surgery is sometimes necessary to remove a corn.


By Katie Phillips