10 Most Common Skin Diseases
The skin is the largest organ of the body covering the entire outside of the body and serving many vital functions. In addition to providing protection, skin regulates temperature, stores water, fat and vitamin D, and senses stimulation. All three layers of the skin---the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layer---are subject to a variety of common diseases.
Acne is the most common skin disease with 80 percent of the population having had acne at some point in time. Acne is characterized by small, red pustules that develop when the skin's oil glands and pores become clogged and inflamed. Acne is most common in adolescents, but can occur through adulthood.
Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is a long-term inflammatory skin condition characterized by dry, itchy skin and red, scaly rashes on the face, elbows, back of knees, and hands and feet. Symptoms generally develop in infants and occur in different locations and with varying severity over time.
Hives are red, itchy bumps on the skin that are common and usually go away on their own, but sometimes pose the risk of health problems. They arise most often from allergic reactions to many different types of allergens such as pets, foods, medications, infections or stress.
Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the skin caused by the bacterium staphylococcus or streptococcus. It occurs most often in children ages 2 to 6 when bacteria enter an open wound and take up residence in the skin. It produces small, red pus-filled sores on the skin that can break open and form a thick crust.
Melanoma is a life-threatening skin cancer and the eighth most common malignancy in the United States, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It develops in the cells of the skin that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanoma can develop anywhere, but most often in areas exposed to the sun. It is important to monitor moles and other skin spots for changes in asymmetry, border, color and diameter.
Small growths on the skin produced by the clustering of melanocytes, or pigments, in the skin are moles. Moles are basically harmless and are found on most people. They do have the potential, however, to be cancerous and develop into melanoma. The majority of moles are small, dark brown spots on the skin, though they can appear in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes.
Approximately 2 percent of the United States population has psoriasis, an inflammatory skin disease characterized by red, scaly and itchy patches of skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Psoriasis can occur at any age, but most commonly arises in the 30s. The patches are most often found on the elbows, knees, legs, scalp, face, palms, lower back and soles of the feet.
Rosacea, a chronic, inflammatory skin disease in adults, is characterized by frequent redness or flushing in the face. Along with facial flushing, rosacea can produce small bumps and pustules that often resemble other skin conditions such as acne. There is no cure for rosacea, but treatment options do exist for the symptoms, which most often occur in a cyclic pattern.
Warts are small growths on the skin caused by the human papilloma virus, or HPV. Most commonly found on the hands and fingers, warts are non-cancerous and usually harmless, but those afflicted often have them removed due to appearance. Treatment is aimed at preventing the spread of warts.
Along with melanoma, two other less severe forms of skin cancer exist, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. These two cancers are the most common cancers found in the United States, but are highly curable if treated early. As with all skin cancers, avoiding excessive UV light exposure is the best way to prevent skin cancer from developing.
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