The skin is the body’s largest organ and is affected by many conditions. Some of the most common skin conditions include rashes, inflammation, itching and changes in color or tone.
Healthcare providers usually diagnose skin diseases by examining a person’s medical history and physical symptoms. In some cases, a biopsy of a skin sample may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
Melasma, or “the mask of pregnancy,” is a condition that typically affects women and can be triggered by a variety of factors, including genetics, hormone levels, sun exposure and medication use. It is characterized by patches of darker pigmentation on the face that can range from a mild to severe degree.
There are three types of melasma: Epidermal, Dermal and Mixed. The first, epidermal melasma, has dark brown or bluish patches with a well-defined border and appears no differently under black light.
The second type, dermal melasma, has light brown or bluish patches that have no defined border and respond poorly to treatment. The third type, mixed melasma, is the most common and includes both brown and bluish patches that show some response to treatment.
Seborrheic keratoses are common noncancerous (benign) skin growths that develop in middle-aged and older adults. They typically appear in clusters on the chest, neck, face or back.
They range in color from light tan to brown or black and may be dry, rough, or bumpy. Some may be dome-shaped with tiny white or black “horns” growing out of them.
These warty growths are made of keratin, the same protein found in fingernails and hooves. They usually look like scabs and can be difficult to distinguish from skin cancer.
People who have a high number of these growths may want to see a dermatologist. They can tell if you have a seborrheic keratosis and also do a biopsy to make sure it isn’t cancerous.
Acne is the most common skin disease, and it can be a frustrating experience. But it is treatable with medications and lifestyle changes.
Acne occurs when the hair follicles underneath the surface of the skin become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, and bacteria multiply. This causes whiteheads, blackheads and pimples to develop.
Depending on the severity of acne, it may also include papules (small pink bumps), pustules (tender, red bumps) and nodules or cysts (hard, painful lumps).
Acne can occur on any part of the body, but it most often appears on the face, chest and back. Treatment usually consists of topical products and oral medications.
Vitiligo is a skin disease that causes areas of your body to lose their natural pigment. It affects people of all races, genders, and locations, and can appear during childhood or in adulthood.
Vitiligo can affect your self-esteem, and the changes it makes to your skin may make you feel uncomfortable or insecure. It can also lead to mental health problems and feelings of sadness or loneliness.
Your doctor can talk to you about ways to deal with these symptoms and improve your mental health. You can also get treatment to help slow the loss of your skin’s pigment.
There are two types of vitiligo. Generalized vitiligo affects all areas of your skin, while segmental vitiligo affects one area only.
Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy, red, flaky, or scaly patches of skin covered with silvery scales. These patches are typically found on your elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, and face but can also appear on your fingers and toenails.
People with psoriasis have an over-reactive immune system that mistakenly thinks healthy cells are foreign invaders, causing inflammation in the skin. The most common type of psoriasis is called plaque psoriasis.
Other types of psoriasis include guttate psoriasis (raindrop psoriasis) and inverse psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis is most often linked to strep throat infections, while inverse psoriasis can appear in the armpits or groin.
Sarcoidosis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation (swelling) in your lungs, skin or lymph nodes. It may also affect your heart, eyes or other organs.
Symptoms of sarcoidosis can vary from person to person and can include cough, shortness of breath or weight loss. For many people, sarcoidosis goes away on its own or with treatment.
Doctors diagnose sarcoidosis by reviewing your medical history and conducting tests that show the presence of granulomas. These are grain-like lumps that form as part of the immune system’s response to an infection or environmental factors.
The symptoms of sarcoidosis depend on where in your body the granulomas develop. Some patients have lung symptoms, while others have skin and eye symptoms or have no symptoms at all.
Lichen sclerosus is a long-term skin disease that occurs in about 1 in 1000 women. It also happens less often in men and children.
Symptoms of this condition include white patches of itchy skin that can look crinkled or shiny. Doctors usually diagnose lichen sclerosus with a physical examination of the affected area.
Doctors may need to do a biopsy (examination of a tissue sample under a microscope) to confirm the diagnosis. This helps rule out a condition called squamous cell carcinoma, which is skin cancer that can look similar to lichen sclerosus.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs when your skin cells change (mutate) and start to grow uncontrollably. It is caused by damage to DNA from sunburns or tanning.
Most melanomas develop on areas that receive direct sunlight, such as your face, neck, arms and hands. But they can also occur in areas that don’t receive much exposure, such as the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet and under your fingernails or toenails.
Often, your doctor will be able to tell the difference between a normal mole and one that may be cancerous by looking at it under a microscope. They will look for asymmetry, ragged borders, uneven color and a change in diameter.
Microneedling is a skin treatment that creates micro-punctures in your skin using miniature, sterilized needles. It stimulates collagen production and can treat a wide range of skin concerns, including acne scars and wrinkles.
You’ll feel a tiny prickly sensation during the procedure, but most people experience little to no pain. The treatment is usually performed on the face, but it can also be applied to other areas, such as the neck and decolletage.
Your skin will look red and irritated after the procedure, but it’ll begin to heal itself within a few days. Results will become noticeable three to six weeks after the first session, but most people require a series of treatments for optimal results.
Mohs surgery is a highly successful way to treat skin cancer. It involves removing all of the visible cancer while checking for cancer cells in the surrounding tissue with a microscope.
During the procedure, your skin is numbed with injections of local anesthetic. The surgeon removes a thin layer of the surrounding skin.
Then the doctor takes the tissue to a lab for analysis. If any cancer is found, more skin is removed until all of the tissue is clear.
Reconstructive surgery may be needed if the wound left by Mohs surgery is large and/or deep. Two common methods of reconstruction are skin flaps, which move neighboring tissue into the wound, and skin grafts, which take a section of healthy skin from another area of your body to replace the damaged tissue.