Skin disorders vary greatly in symptoms and severity. They can be temporary or permanent and may be painless or painful. Some have situational causes, while others may be genetic. Some skin conditions are minor, and others can be life-threatening.
While most skin disorders are minor, others can indicate a more serious issue. Contact your doctor if you think you might have one of these common skin problems.
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It often causes whiteheads, blackheads or pimples, and usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back, and shoulders. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages.
- Cold sores
Cold sores — also called fever blisters — are a common viral infection. They are tiny, fluid-filled blisters on and around your lips. These blisters are often grouped together in patches. After the blisters break, a crust forms over the resulting sore. Cold sores usually heal in two to four weeks without leaving a scar.
If a blister isn’t too painful, try to keep it intact. Unbroken skin over a blister may provide a natural barrier to bacteria and decreases the risk of infection. Cover it with an adhesive bandage or moleskin. Cut a piece of moleskin into a doughnut shape and place the pad so that it encircles and protects the blister. Then cover the blister and moleskin with gauze.
Hives — also known as urticarial — is a skin reaction that causes itchy welts, which can range in size from small spots to large blotches several inches in diameter. Hives can be triggered by exposure to certain foods, medications, or other substances.
- Actinic keratosis
Actinic keratosis is a rough, scaly patch on your skin that develops from years of exposure to the sun. It’s most commonly found on your face, lips, ears, back of your hands, forearms, scalp, or neck.
Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels in your face. It may also produce small, red, pus-filled bumps. These signs and symptoms may flare up for a period of weeks to months and then diminish for a while. Rosacea can be mistaken for acne, an allergic reaction, or other skin problems.
A carbuncle is a cluster of boils that form a connected area of infection. Carbuncles often occur on the back of the neck, shoulders, or thighs. Compared with single boils, carbuncles cause a deeper and more severe infection and are more likely to leave a scar. People who have a carbuncle often feel unwell in general and may experience a fever and chills.
- Latex allergy
Latex allergy is a reaction to certain proteins found in natural rubber latex, a product made from the rubber tree. If you have a latex allergy, your body mistakes latex for a harmful substance.
Latex allergy may cause itchy skin and hives or even anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition that can cause throat swelling and severe difficulty breathing.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy. It’s common in children but can occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis is long-lasting (chronic) and tends to flare periodically. It may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful.
Cellulitis a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. The affected skin appears swollen and red and is typically painful and warm to the touch. May spread very quickly to other parts of the skin. Usually, it is not infectious
Cellulitis usually affects the skin on the lower legs, but it can occur in the face, arms, and other areas.
Measles is a childhood infection caused by a virus. Once quite common, measles can now almost always be prevented with a vaccine.
Also called rubeola, measles can be serious and even fatal for small children. While death rates have been falling worldwide as more children receive the measles vaccine, the disease still kills more than 100,000 people a year, most under the age of 5.
- Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cells — a type of cell within the skin that produces new skin cells as old ones die off.
Basal cell carcinoma often appears as a slightly transparent bump on the skin, though it can take other forms. Basal cell carcinoma occurs most often on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as your head and neck
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is a common form of skin cancer that develops in the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is usually not life-threatening, though it can be aggressive in some cases. Untreated, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin can grow large or spread to other parts of your body, causing serious complications.
Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma can also form in your eyes and, rarely, in internal organs, such as your intestines.
Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.
- Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. The rash isn’t contagious or life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable.
Many substances can cause such reactions, including soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, and plants
Vitiligo is a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. The extent and rate of color loss from vitiligo are unpredictable. It can affect the skin on any part of your body. It may also affect hair and the inside of the mouth.
Plantar warts are small growths that usually appear on the heels or other weight-bearing areas of your feet. This pressure may also cause plantar warts to grow inward beneath a hard, thick layer of skin (callus).
Chickenpox (varicella) is a viral infection that causes an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters. Chickenpox is highly contagious to people who haven’t had the disease or been vaccinated against it. Before routine chickenpox vaccination, virtually all people had been infected by the time they reached adulthood, sometimes with serious complications. Today, the number of cases and hospitalizations is down dramatically.
- Seborrheic dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that mainly affects your scalp. It causes scaly patches, red skin, and stubborn dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis can also affect oily areas of the body, such as the face, sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, and chest.
- Keratosis pilaris
Keratosis pilaris is a common, harmless skin condition that causes dry, rough patches and tiny bumps, usually on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks, or buttocks. The bumps generally don’t hurt or itch.
Ringworm of the body is a fungal infection that develops on the top layer of your skin. It’s characterized by a red circular rash with clearer skin in the middle. It may itch. Ringworm gets its name because of its appearance.
Melasma is a common skin problem. It causes brown to gray-brown patches, usually on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of suns, such as the forearms and neck.
Impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that mainly affects infants and children. Impetigo usually appears as red sores on the face, especially around a child’s nose and mouth, and on hands and feet. The sores burst and develop honey-colored crusts.