10 Most Common Chronic Skin Conditions and Facts to Know About Them
No one has ever claimed, “My skin is flawless.” Real talk: Your skin has had its own growth spurt by the time you reach adulthood. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, between the ages of 12 and 24, 85% of Americans experience at least mild acne, and another 10.7% will have eczema. Having dry skin? Recent studies show that one in three individuals live with it every day, including you.
In other words, we all have skin-related problems. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment strategy because, just as no two persons are similar, neither are the skin problems we deal with. Every chronic skin ailment has a different combination of signs, underlying problems, and treatment options. See what the experts have to say about these 10 common skin conditions and learn how to maintain healthy skin going forward.
Most Common Chronic Skin Conditions
Leave it to the worldwide pandemic to create a new term for the dermatology field: “We seen a lot of’maskne’ in the last two years, especially at the height of COVID, due to all the mask-wearing and how it affects the skin,” says Dr. George Han, MD, PhD, an associate professor and director of research in the department of dermatology at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Dr. Han asserts that adult acne is on the increase, pandemic or not. He adds that the cause of this growth is unclear and that at the age of 30, we are seeing ladies who never had acne as children as new patients.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the disease develops when hair follicles get blocked with oil and dead skin cells, resulting in pimples and, to a lesser degree, blackheads and whiteheads. Among other areas, acne may develop on your face, chest, or back; in the case of cystic acne, pimple-like lesions develop under the skin’s surface.
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, an associate professor of dermatology and the head of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, says, “We don’t understand precisely why acne arises, but we know that it is driven by hormones, nutrition, and stress.”
The first line of defense against acne is over-the-counter topical medicines, which may help clean up your skin. According to Dr. Zeichner, benzoyl peroxide may be the chemical that works the best to cure “angry” pimples. A 2.5% benzoyl peroxide concentration has been shown in trials to be as effective as greater concentrations while causing less skin irritation.
Topical retinoids, on the other hand, “work like pipe cleaners to keep the pores free,” claims Dr. Zeichner. Because they also have advantages for promoting collagen to cure aged skin, I utilize them while treating my adult acne patients. Salicylic acid is a kind of beta hydroxy acid that eliminates more oil and dead skin cells from the skin’s surface to help dry up pimples, according to the expert. Salicylic acid-containing products may also be helpful.
When you’ve tried these treatments and your acne still won’t go away, it’s time to get help. In the event that they remain ineffective after one to two months, Dr. Zeichner advises seeing a dermatologist for advice and thinking about using an oral medicine. “To treat the hormonal influence on oil glands in adult women, we employ hormonal medications such birth control tablets or spironolactone.”
Related: Everything you need to know about the monkeypox
We agree with you if you’re thinking, “I had no idea that dry skin was a real problem.” The clinical kind of dry skin differs from the type that dish soap dried out on my hands. Clinically dry skin, often referred to as xerosis cutis, may result in cracking, bleeding, itching, and irritation. Elderly persons are usually affected by the ailment, which is exacerbated worse by dry heat in the winter.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, underlying conditions like eczema or renal illness may also contribute to dry skin (AAD). Additionally, several drugs might exacerbate dry skin.
Lifestyle adjustments are the first step in treating dry skin. Consider these AAD recommendations:
- In the shower and bath, use warm water rather than hot.
- Showers should only last 5–10 minutes.
- Instead of rubbing your skin violently to dry it off, gently blot it with a towel.
- After a shower, moisturize quickly.
- Pick creams and lotions that include mineral oil, shea butter, or jojoba oil.
- Utilize a humidifier throughout the winter.
- In the winter, cover your hands with gloves.
- Give up smoking.
In more extreme circumstances, your dermatologist may additionally recommend a steroid for short-term usage to reduce any inflammation that is exacerbating itching or skin fissures.
You probably already know all about alopecia as it relates to Jada Pinkett Smith, the Oscars, and the iconic Chris Rock slap unless you’ve been living under a rock (pun intended). Alopecia is just the medical term for hair loss. There are many different forms of alopecia; the most prevalent is alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system assaults hair follicles on the head, face, and sometimes other parts of the body, resulting in hair loss.
According to the National Institutes of Health, alopecia may affect both sexes, individuals of any color and age, however it commonly manifests itself for the first time in people’s 20s, 30s, and 40s. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation estimates that 6.8 million Americans have alopecia areata, with a lifetime prevalence of 2%.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your doctor may discuss the following alternatives with you to assist encourage hair growth depending on your age, the location of your hair loss, and the depth of your baldness:
- Skin-based immunotherapy
Jak (Janus) kinase inhibitors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Olumiant, a novel medication, in June to treat severe alopecia areata. CTP-543 and other JAK inhibitors have shown potential in clinical studies and could be licensed shortly.
Other choices include shaving your head and going the other way, using wigs, transplants, or scalp prosthetics.
Even the phrase sounds scratchy, which is how your skin feels when you have eczema. Eczema is referred to as the “itch that rashes” because individuals experience itching before a rash begins to develop, according to Dr. Han. The rash often resembles a collection of little red pimples.
Despite the fact that there is no one specific reason for the disorder, it is often accompanied with a family history of allergies and asthma. (According to study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, the disease is inherited; if one of your parents has eczema, your chance of getting it increases by a factor of two to three.) Smoking, stress, dry skin, and hormonal changes are among other factors for the illness.
According to Dr. Zeichner, eczema is a disorder in which the skin barrier is not operating as it should. The microbiome, or group of microorganisms that reside on the surface of the skin, is altered in eczema. The skin becomes inflamed and loses moisture as a result.
Most people refer to eczema as a kind of atopic dermatitis since the names are interchangeable. However, the Cleveland Clinic notes that there are a number of additional variations of the condition, including contact dermatitis (caused by close contact with an irritant), dyshidrotic eczema (characterized by blisters on hands and feet), hand eczema (where symptoms are restricted to your hands), neurodermatitis (where patches of skin are thicker), nummular eczema (where welts are larger), and stasis dermatitis (caused by faulty veins that leak fluid).
Dr. Zeichner states that the purpose of therapy is to use moisturizers to rebuild the skin barrier. With over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, prescription topical or systemic medications, we also wish to minimize skin inflammation. Eczema treatments vary from home remedies (warm baths, baking soda, and heavy moisturizers) to professional care. Your doctor may discuss biologics, calcineurin, Janus kinase, and PDE4 inhibitors with you. All of these medications function by obstructing certain body proteins that “switch on” skin inflammation.
That was eczema, then. Psoriasis is the skin ailment it is most often mistaken with. According to previous medical texts, we used to differentiate between the two by claiming that psoriasis doesn’t itch and eczema causes itchy skin, according to Dr. Han. But that has been flipped on its head in recent years, and we now know that psoriasis also itches.
Actually, he claims that between 80% and 90% of psoriasis sufferers list itching as a main symptom. What distinguishes psoriasis from eczema then? Specifically, how and where the sickness manifests itself on the body. According to Dr. Han, a psoriasis lesion is often described as having thick, scaly skin over a plaque. “It often appears as a red spot that is distinct from the surrounding skin. In contrast, eczema causes little red pimples in skin regions that are red.
Although plaque psoriasis predominates, additional psoriasis forms exist, such as nail, scalp, guttate, inverted, pustular, and erythrodermic psoriasis. Every time, excessive skin cell turnover is what leads to psoriasis. Cell turnover occurs in three days in psoriasis patients as opposed to the typical 30 days, according to Dr. Han. Plaques characteristic of the illness are caused by the accumulation of dead skin cells.
The kind of psoriasis treatment you employ will primarily rely on how severe your illness is. Options include systemic drugs and topical treatments like retinoids. You may even attempt home treatments for psoriasis if your symptoms are quite minor, such as salicylic acid-containing moisturizers to help exfoliate the plaques, essential oils (the benefits of which are debatable), relaxation methods, and specific diets to lessen skin irritation. (Avoid processed foods, which, according to studies published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, exacerbate inflammation.)
Your doctor may probably discuss biologic medications with you if your psoriasis is moderate to severe. These medications target the proteins in your body that are responsible for the skin inflammation. Typically, biologics are administered intravenously.
Rosacea may resemble acne, but often affects adults rather than teenagers, according to dermatologist Alok Vij of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Broken blood vessels on the skin’s surface, pustules that resemble acne but are not blackheads, and thickening of the sebaceous skin are a few possible symptoms of rosacea. He says, “Imagine W.C. Fields with thick skin on his nose.”
How then is rosacea handled? According to Dr. Vij, we first categorize the disease’s severity. “If it’s minor, we’ll use antibiotics for pustular rosacea or topical anti-inflammatory treatments. Blood vessel redness may be reduced with laser treatment, and oral vitamin A therapy may also be beneficial.
According to him, a whole skin cycle lasts four weeks, thus rosacea therapy may take that long to produce results. Numerous over-the-counter medicines and cosmetics may minimize the redness in the interim.
The disease vitiligo is defined by what’s missing, as opposed to the majority of frequent and chronic skin illnesses that are distinguished by enlarged plaques, lumps, or redness. Specifically, skin tone According to Nada Elbuluk, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at the Keck School of Medicine and director of the USC Skin of Color Center and Pigmentary Disorders Clinic at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, “vitiligo is an autoimmune condition in which your own antibodies attack cells called melanocytes in your body.” When these cells are harmed, the skin develops white patches because these cells produce melanin, which gives skin its color.
Though research into the origins of vitiligo is ongoing, it is currently believed that certain individuals are genetically prone to the disorder. According to Dr. Elbuluk, vitiligo must arise in two circumstances. “First, you have the genetic predisposition, and second, some event—like a sunburn, a skin scratch, or even stress—causes vitiligo to manifest itself.”
There may be serious psychological effects from vitiligo: According to a paper in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology that reviewed hundreds of studies, 62% of persons with vitiligo also experience despair, and 68% experience anxiety. According to Dr. Elbuluk, “those with vitiligo start to self-isolate or feel uneasy in social circumstances.” “The disease’s emotional manifestations are highly worrying,”
Depending on which areas and how much of the body are affected, there are many treatments for vitiligo, such as phototherapy, laser therapy, topical steroids, oral medicine, and surgery. However, some individuals could decide not to use any medication for vitiligo. Celebrities like model Winnie Harlow have made a profession out of embracing their distinctive skin tones.
If you’ve ever cut yourself shaving and the next day found an irritated red lump there, that’s folliculitis. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a disease known as fungal acne is characterized by inflamed or infected lumps on the skin that first resemble pimples. Folliculitis may be categorized according to the kind of bacteria that caused the illness or the intensity and location of the skin symptoms. (You may get folliculitis everywhere, including on your chin, chest, and butt.)
According to Dr. Vij, “folliculitis is a fairly common and benign ailment that refers to little pimples that develop anywhere on your body where there are hair follicles.” You can acquire it almost everywhere, including your face, thighs, and arms. According to Dr. Vij, since the signs and symptoms (inflamed pimples) are often minor, “we prefer to employ less severe therapies.” Warm compresses, topical antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide washes, and anti-itch lotions are some examples of these.
Much sweat? If so, you may be one of the one in 20 Americans who suffer from hyperhidrosis, a skin disorder marked by excessive sweating. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the precise prevalence of hyperhidrosis is unclear, although estimates vary from one in 50 to closer to one in 10.
We all sometimes perspire; after all, perspiration is how our bodies regulate their internal temperatures. However, excessive sweating is not the only symptom of hyperhidrosis; it may also occur at odd periods, seemingly for no cause, even when you are not under stress. At best, it causes disruption; at worst, it undermines self-confidence.
How can you identify a heavy sweater from someone who has a clinical disorder? The following are hyperhidrosis symptoms listed by the Cleveland Clinic:
- sweat that collects behind or behind your arms
- When not working out, your shirt becomes so soaked that you have to change into other clothing.
- Sweating beads on the forehead and cheeks while having a typical conversation
- sweating so much that your hands or socks get wet
- There are two forms of hyperhidrosis: focal (also known as primary) and generalized (commonly known as secondary). The former is caused by a genetic mutation, while the latter is brought on by another illness or medicine you may be taking.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your doctor may choose to treat your hyperhidrosis with anything from clinical-grade antiperspirants to iontophoresis, an at-home device that uses a mild current to zap your skin to temporarily shut down your sweat glands. This will depend on how severe your sweating is. Injections of Botox, oral medications, and even surgery to remove the sweat glands are other therapies.
Dr. Zeichner explains that hidradenitis is a disorder where cysts, nodules, and scars often appear in places like the groin, beneath the breasts, and under the underarms. Although we are unsure of the precise reason, we do know that sweat gland obstructions are to blame.
Family history, smoking, and obesity are risk factors for acquiring the illness, which may manifest as pimples and blackheads on the skin’s surface.
According to Dr. Zeichner, the follicular occlusion tetrad is a group of severe acne-like diseases that are related to hidradenitis suppurativa. He continues, “Hidradenitis suppurativa has flare-ups and remissions, but the majority of lesions never fully resolve. There is presently no cure, however drugs may help keep symptoms under control.
But lifestyle changes may be beneficial. These include giving the under-skin pimples frequent cleanings using surgical-grade, antimicrobial cleaners, maintaining a healthy weight with exercise and nutrition, and stopping smoking.
Topical medicines might be helpful in mild instances, according to Dr. Zeichner. “Cortisone injections are effective in reducing inflammation. Larger abscesses may need to be emptied. Plastic surgeons may completely remove the glands in the afflicted regions in extreme instances and replace the skin with a graft instead.
Systemic drugs may also be required when the illness worsens, such as the FDA-approved biologic drug Humira, which targets the underlying inflammatory response that exacerbates symptoms.
The biggest chronic skin disorders that might interfere with your everyday mood are listed above. When you sum them all together, they’re more frequent than most people think. So, if your skin is itching and you haven’t recently been near a patch of poison ivy, discuss the situation with your dermatologist. If you do have one of these chronic skin conditions, getting treatment for it quickly will allow you to resume your normal routine.
- Mayo Clinic: “Acne Symptoms and Causes.”
- Journal of Investigative Dermatology: “Short-Term Western Diet Intake Promotes IL-23‒Mediated Skin and Joint Inflammation Accompanied by Changes to the Gut Microbiota in Mice.”
- Current Allergy and Asthma Reports: “Stress and Atopic Dermatitis.”
- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: “Association of Atopic Dermatitis with Smoking: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Dermatitis.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Folliculitis.”
- American Journal of Clinical Dermatology: “Psychosocial Effects of Vitiligo: A Systematic Literature Review.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Hyperhidrosis.”
- American Academy of Dermatology: “Hyperhidrosis Treatment.”