The term, skin disorder, encompasses a wide range of diseases and medical issues involving the skin. The skin is mainly a protective organ but is complex enough to potentially suffer from infection, cancer and many other chronic conditions like psoriasis, acne and eczema.
Signs and Symptoms
Each specific skin disorder has its own set of symptoms. The common symptom among the disorders is a visible change in the skin and its integrity, whether it is a change in the appearance of a mole, bleeding, flaking, inflammation, a rash or itching. There are some skin disorders that can be identified by a certain set of symptoms:
- Acne: This can consist of blackheads, whiteheads, nodules or cysts typically on the face, back and chest.
- Eczema: The classic itchy rash is most often seen in the bend of the elbows and behind the knees.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: Oily, waxy patches of skin are seen on the scalp with this skin disorder.
- Skin cancer: Forms of squamous cell, basal cell and melanoma present in different ways but all include a change in the appearance of a mole or skin lesion.
- Psoriasis: Thick red patches of skin with silvery scales, especially on the elbows and knees, are classic signs of this skin disorder.
While these conditions represent the most common disorders, there are many variations and other diseases that affect the skin.
Risk Factors to Develop a Skin Disorder
There are many risk factors that can predispose a person to developing a skin disorder.
- Hormones, especially during the teenage years when levels are higher, increase the prevalence of acne.
- Heredity affects acne development.
- Family history of skin cancer, especially basal cell skin cancer and melanoma, raises the risk of developing the same concerns.
- Excessive sun exposure damages the skin and predisposes a person to developing skin cancer. A history of frequent sunburns further increases the risk because of past skin damage.
- Advancing age is another risk because skin cancer slowly evolves, making time a detriment.
- Fair-skinned people develop skin cancer more readily then those with darker skin tones.
- Environmental factors influence skin disorders: new skin products (cleansers, cosmetics) can irritate the skin, pollutants (poison ivy, cleaning solutions and sprays) can inflame the skin and stress can cause a variety of symptoms that present through the skin.
Negative Effects of a Skin Disorder
Skin disorders can be a simple pimple, a case of poison ivy or a serious, life-threatening melanoma. While some are transient, others are chronic and can have a long-term physical scarring and psychological impact. The treatment and support rendered by an appropriate healthcare professional can help to deal with such disorders.