10 of the Most Common Skin Conditions
The skin is the body’s largest organ; it consists of three layers: the epidermis (the top layer of skin, which provides a waterproof barrier), the dermis (the middle layer, which is made up of connective tissue, nerves, sweat glands, and hair follicles), and the hypodermis (the bottom layer, which consists of connective tissue and fat). The skin is a complex organ and, therefore, can be affected by a variety of health conditions.
Skin conditions range from extremely rare to very common. Ten of the most common skin conditions include the following:
- Acne is an umbrella term used for pimples, blackheads or cysts on the skin. It is caused by blocked hair follicles or oil glands. Acne is the most common skin condition, affecting over 85% of people at some point in their lifetime.
- Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes a rapid buildup of skin cells. This creates scaly, well-defined, silvery plaques on the skin, typically on the scalp, knees, lower back, or elbows. Areas affected by psoriasis may be itchy, sore, or asymptomatic.
- Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes inflammation of the skin on the face. It is most common in females over the age of 30, but can occur in males as well. Symptoms include facial redness, dryness, raised bumps, pronounced blood vessels, and skin sensitivity. Rosacea typically cycles between flare-ups of symptoms and calming of symptoms.
- Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema; actually, the two terms are often used interchangeably. Symptoms include dry, red, scaly, itchy skin, typically located on the face, hands, feet, or in skin folds. Atopic dermatitis typically develops before the age of 5. Although it can carry over into adulthood, symptoms typically become milder or disappear completely. Individuals with a personal or family history of asthma or allergies are at increased risk of developing the condition.
- Contact dermatitis, a type of eczema, involves skin irritation that occurs after contact with certain plants, jewelry, latex gloves, soaps, or other substances or surfaces. Symptoms include red, burning, itchy, stinging skin; hives; or fluid-filled blisters.
- Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in the United States. Growths may look red, shiny, scaly, or like an open sore. Basal cell carcinoma most often develops from repeated, excessive exposure to the sun or repeated use of tanning beds. If it is caught early, it is curable, so early detection is important.
- Impetigo occurs when bacteria infect the epidermis. It most commonly occurs around the mouth, nose and chin. Symptoms include a rash that develops into fluid-filled blisters that easily burst and form a yellowish crust. Impetigo can occur at any age but is most common in babies and children.
- Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. The lesion it causes often looks like a worm in the shape of a ring. The center of the circle usually looks normal; however, the border of the rash is raised, scaly, and itchy.
- Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a virus and most commonly affects children under the age of 5. Symptoms include red spots on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet along with painful blisters in the mouth (hence the name), tongue, and gums. Red splotches may also develop on the buttocks or the genitals.
- Shingles is a condition that develops from the same virus that causes chicken pox (the varicella-zoster virus). If a person has had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant — generally for many years — in nerve tissue. If the virus reactivates, it travels along nerve fibers to the skin and is referred to as shingles. It causes a red, blistered, itchy, painful rash that typically wraps around half of the torso (although it can occur in other areas of the body). Seniors and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk of developing shingles.