A List of Common Skin Conditions: Causes and Remedies
Did you know the human body’s largest organ is the skin that covers it? The epidermis (the anatomical name for skin) is an essential organ that is often taken for granted. Even though it literally covers our exterior and protects us from the outside world, we often forget that it’s there. Ironically, when the skin becomes irritated, suddenly, we become painfully aware of its existence, seeking out the affliction’s causes and remedies alike.
There are many different skin conditions that can afflict the body, and finding a treatment for them is important not just for your health, but for your comfort as well. Let’s look at some of the most common skin conditions, some available treatments, and what you can do to maintain a healthy skin treatment regimen.
Common Skin Disorders and Conditions
There are a variety of different skin conditions that you may experience, and the causes can vary. In general, as MedlinePlus explains, the skin can become easily irritated, clogged, or inflamed due to exposure to bacteria, the sun, or wear and tear, which can then cause redness, itching, and swelling.
Understanding what condition you have may help you determine the best solution to treat your skin. Below are some of the most common skin conditions and disorders.
This skin condition is one of the most common, and is particularly common among teenagers, as the Mayo Clinic notes.
Acne is caused by the clogging of hair follicles in the skin by oil and dead skin cells. As the acne develops, it may create painful red lumps or pustules, and prolonged acne can cause scarring on the skin. It is most common on the face, but can develop anywhere on the body.
The Mayo Clinic (linked above) notes there are four primary causes for acne:
- Excess oil production;
- Hair follicles clogged by oil and dead skin cells;
- Excess activity of a type of hormone (androgens).
Other factors can also exacerbate acne, including stress, certain medications, diet, and hormone production. Although teenagers are the most likely to develop acne (due to puberty and the increase in hormone production), acne can affect anyone at any age.
Contact Dermatitis (Skin Allergens or Irritants)
This skin condition is the development of a rash due to contact with an irritant (such as detergents or bleach) or a certain substance that your body is allergic to. Contact dermatitis can happen anywhere on the skin, and is most commonly seen as a small red, itchy, inflamed area of the epidermis. Hives — small itchy bumps on the skin — can also appear due to an allergic reaction to something touched or eaten.
According to the Mayo Clinic, this rash can develop due to cosmetics, soaps, fragrances, jewelry, or plants. There are two types of contact dermatitis:
- Irritant Contact Dermatitis: This is caused by a single exposure or repeated exposure to an irritant, such as fertilizers, bleach, plants, wood dust, or other similar substances.
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis: This is caused by a single or repeated exposure to a substance that you are allergic to, which causes an immune reaction on the skin. Common allergies include: latex, nickel, certain medications, poison ivy, personal care products, or airborne substances.
This condition is also known as “atopic dermatitis,” and can cause the skin to become dry, itchy, and red. According to the Mayo Clinic, eczema is most common in children, but can occur at any age.
Eczema is typically chronic, meaning it lasts for longer than three months, and it can flare up periodically throughout a person’s lifetime. It is typically a condition that is inherited, so people with a family history of eczema may be more inclined to develop it throughout their lifetime.
Melanoma (Skin Cancer)
Like most cancers, skin cancer begins with the creation of a few cancer cells, which then multiply rapidly and can spread to other areas of the body. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma is cancer that starts in the basal cells, melanin, or squamous cells of the epidermis (skin).
“Melanocytes” is the name for the cells that become melanoma, and they can appear as dark spots or irregular moles on the surface of the skin. However, there are also some melanoma cells that can appear pink, or may lack any pigmentation at all.
Pronounced “suh-rye-uh-sis”, psoriasis is a common skin disorder where the skin cells replicate themselves in days, instead of in weeks. This can cause the skin cells to build up and create dry, itchy, and scaly patches of skin.
As the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) explains, psoriasis is a lifelong condition for many people. Because of this, it is incurable, though it is treatable. It’s always best to speak with a doctor or dermatologist about long-term skin care plans for the condition.
This condition is typically characterized by flushed skin, most commonly on the face, near the nose and cheeks. Rosacea can appear as red skin, but may also be accompanied by small bumps (similar to acne) and swelling of the affected area. Additionally, small blood vessels in the affected area may rise to the surface or break and become more apparent.
As WebMD explains, rosacea doesn’t have a distinct cause, but some research suggests that common causes may be:
- Blood vessel issues due to sun exposure or diet;
- Bacteria in the gut that causes redness of the face;
- Microscopic mites on the face that cause irritation.
Other Skin Conditions
Some other common skin conditions can be caused by different diseases or chronic conditions. For example, diabetes (type I and type II) can often cause serious dry, itchy, darkened, and scaly skin on the hands and feet due to poor control over blood sugar levels. Additionally, as WebMD notes, vitiligo, or the loss of pigmentation on the skin, is also common for diabetics.
If your skin appears irregular, you are uncomfortable, or you are unhappy with how your skin looks, it is always best to speak with a doctor or a licensed dermatologist to get an appropriate diagnosis. They can also aid in providing prescription medications that may help ease symptoms or treat the underlying condition.
Remedies and Treatments for Skin Conditions
There are a variety of ways to treat and manage some of the most common skin conditions. Treatment options ranging from over-the-counter ointments to doctor-prescribed medications can help in many cases. Additionally, herbal remedies can also help the skin heal, or may help in the management of common symptoms. Certain oils and topical creams can even be made in the comfort of your own home, including cannabis-derived, CBD-based products. It’s important to note that the application of CBD as a viable medical treatment option is still undergoing research (more on that below), and that, as a whole, the compound’s properties are still widely unknown. Do your research and consult a physician before taking any medical treatment matters into your own hands.
Over the Counter Topical Ointments and Creams
According to the Merck Manuals, over-the-counter topical ointments and creams typically consist of an active drug ingredient and an inactive ingredient (known as the vehicle). They can come in a variety of concentrates, and the vehicle often determines the consistency of the substance, as well as how the drug treats the skin (does it stay on the surface of the skin, or does it permeate the skin).
Depending on where you’re shopping, you may find a variety of different over-the-counter options to help with skin irritation or conditions. Some of the most common varieties include:
Unfortunately, even some of the strongest over-the-counter medications may not be enough to help in the management of symptoms for certain serious skin conditions. More minor skin irritations or acne may be reduced with some over the counter options, but it always best to consult a doctor.
Medications and Prescription Drugs
Doctors and dermatologists can help diagnose and prescribe treatments for many common skin conditions, which can then help in management or healing of the skin in affected areas. Prescriptions can be made for medicinal and topical soaps, creams, ointments, or lotions, or for oral medications.
As noted by AADA, treatments vary depending on the severity and type of skin condition that is present. Speaking with a physician or dermatologist is always the best option prior to seeking out treatments.
Natural and Herbal Remedies
Using plants to heal the skin is an age-old tradition for humankind. Even common plants that may be seen as “weeds” by some can have significant herbal applications. Plants such as aloe vera, green tea, and comfrey are still common ingredients in skincare products today.
As one study from 2014, published in Pharmacognosy Review, concluded on herbal and natural remedies: “Herbals are a rich source of active ingredients and can be safer and cost effective treatment for skin diseases ranging from rashes to dreadful skin cancer.”
Another common herbal remedy is the use of CBD oil, or topical CBD ointments and creams. Hemp oil, the oil from the plant that doesn’t contain CBD (cannabinoids) nor THC, also has a high-level of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be beneficial for skin health. There are many studies pointing to the connection skin has to the endocannabinoid system and the benefits of utilizing CBD or Hemp oil, including the following:
- One study found that mice with an increased number of cannabinoid receptors saw a serious reduction in the severity of contact dermatitis compared to those with fewer cannabinoid receptors. High concentrations of fatty acids (such as hemp oil) helped alleviate symptoms, and the study highlighted the importance of the endocannabinoid system in the body.
- Another study from 2014 found that the connection between the skin and ECS allowed topical CBD ointments to react positively for patients with severe acne. The study found that CBD “exerted complex antiinflammatory[sic] actions”, and, coupled with other ingredients and bodily systems, CBD could provide a beneficial therapeutic agent for the treatment of certain acne conditions.
- Finally, a 2007 study focused on CBD used on patients with psoriasis. The study found that, although cannabinoids do not inhibit the growth of skin and keratin growth in these cases, it could provide a potential support role in the treatment of psoriasis.
How to Keep Your Skin Healthy
Even if you don’t suffer from a serious skin condition or disorder, it can still be difficult to properly care for your skin. As mentioned earlier, exposure to the sun can cause premature aging and wrinkles, and overwashing can cause dry, itchy, scaly, skin, as well. What is the best way to keep your skin young and moisturized?
According to the Mayo Clinic, skin care can often be quite simple and only requires five precautions to look out for:
- Avoid the sun: Utilize sunblock or sunscreen (SPF 15 or above) any time you’re planning to be outside for more than a few minutes. You can also wear protective clothing, or seek shade if you plan to be outside for even longer.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking can narrow the blood vessels near the surface of the skin, which can then cause additional premature aging and wrinkles. It can also increase your risk of certain cancers, including skin cancer.
- Be gentle to your skin: Constant washing and shaving can have harsh effects on the skin, so the Mayo Clinic recommends using warm (rather than hot) water when bathing, avoiding strong soaps, lubricating the skin when shaving, patting yourself dry (instead of rubbing), and utilizing a daily moisturizer after washing.
- Eat a healthy diet: Your diet can also have a major effect on your skin health, so it’s important to keep your diet balanced and avoid processed foods and unhealthy fats (not omega-3 fats). Drinking plenty of water can also help your skin stay hydrated and moisturized.
- Manage stress: Finally, stress can also affect the overall health of the skin, as well as other function in the body such as the gut and brain. For minimizing stress, the Mayo Clinic suggests: “Get enough sleep, set reasonable limits, scale back your to-do list and make time to do the things you enjoy.”
Best Ways to Keep Facial Skin Healthy
One of the most sensitive areas of the skin if your facial skin. For many people, keeping their face young and healthy can be a challenge, and acne and other facial skin conditions can last well past adolescence and into adulthood. Although some people may suggest extensive 10-step routines to keep your facial skin healthy, it doesn’t have to be nearly that complicated.
Elizabeth Bennett, with Refinery 29, was able to interview multiple beauticians and facialists to ask them what their preferred routine looked like. As it turns out, extensive routines can actually be harmful to the face, especially for people with sensitive skin, as each step adds more and more harsh chemicals to the skin. Instead, simple routines can be much less harmful, and may help in the management of certain conditions such as acne or rosacea. Here are the three essentials:
- Gentle soaps that address your personal needs, such as oiliness, dryness, or a mix of both. Wash at least once a day, morning or night.
- Utilize a great moisturizer if your skin is very dry, which can help keep the skin elastic and soft. However, if you don’t suffer from dry skin, avoid the moisturizer and instead allow your skin to moisturize itself via natural oil production.
- Utilize facial sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. Many moisturizers also come with a small amount of SPF sunblock.
Again, another beneficial step might be to add CBD oil or CBD cosmetics to your facial care routine. CBD is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, which can all help in the healing and overall health of your skin. There are even beauty products, such as haircare, lip balm, and makeup, that combine CBD with other ingredients to promote a balanced wellness routine.
Taking care of your skin doesn’t have to be a chore. Whether you’re struggling with common skin conditions such as psoriasis or acne, or you’re simply looking to simplify your beauty routine, there are a variety of solutions that can help keep the largest organ on your body happy, young, and healthy.