The skin is the largest organ of the body, totaling about 20 square feet of body surface. There are three main functions of the skin:
- It offers protection from germs and other toxins.
- Skin helps to control body temperature.
- It controls of the sensations of hot and cold as well as touch.
What Are Skin Disorders?
The skin is comprised of three layers, each of which can develop its own set of medical issues:
- Epidermis or outer layer, which is the outside barrier and holds the melanin that determines skin color.
- Dermis, which is under the epidermis, where the components of connective tissue, hair follicles and sweat glands are found.
- Hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue, which contains more connective tissue and fat cells.
The layers of this complex organ called skin can develop a myriad of medical problems ranging from a simple pimple to life-threatening melanoma.
Who Is Affected?
There are many factors that affect the development of skin disorders. Some of which are included on the list are genetic predisposition, sun exposure, fair-skinned and increasing age.
Here are some startling statistics about skin disorders in general:
- 80 percent of Americans will have acne during their lifetime; 60 percent will have it through their adult life.
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.
- One million people a year are diagnosed with some type of skin cancer.
- 75 percent of skin cancer related deaths are from melanoma.
- People of color, typically, do not get skin cancer as often as Caucasians. When diagnosed, Caucasians are diagnosed with more basal call carcinoma while African Americans have more squamous cell carcinoma.
- 5 percent of the population suffers from seborrheic dermatitis.
- 3 percent of adults and up to 20 percent of children have some type of eczema.
- Women under the age of 45 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than men.
The many skin disorders that are commonly diagnosed can have a far-reaching effect on the patient. There are cosmetic concerns, psychological impact and physical demands when the problem becomes systemic in nature. Attention to detail, especially changes in the appearance of the skin and its specific markings, is critical to developing a treatment plan with the best chances of long-term recovery.