8 skin conditions demanding your attention

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None of us get through life without some kind of skin issues.  Be it major or minor skin eruptions, ignoring the condition and wishing it will go away is not the solution.  Your skin is the largest organ of the body and when it goes haywire it’s like setting off an alarm warning you to take notice and take action.

 

Here are 8 skin spoilers and why neglecting them is unwise:

1. Acne

Acne be it controlled or out of control is never a welcomed part of your skin.  Acne is inflamed or infected sebaceous glands of the skin characterized by red pimples on the face, chest or back primarily affecting teenagers.  Adults can also develop acne often related to stress such as meeting a job deadline, not enough sleep, or before a menstrual cycle.  The driving factor in adult acne is hormonal.  Acne flare-ups before a woman’s cycle can often be helped with medications prescribed by a dermatologist to prevent or reduce the severity.  Another factor for acne in women is it could indicate polycystic ovarian syndrome which can be diagnosed by an endocrinologist. 

2. Rosacea

If your skin looks like you are permanently blushing, you may have rosacea.  This common skin condition affecting more than 3 million Americans can last for years.  It is where certain facial blood vessels enlarge, giving the cheeks and nose a flushed appearance.  It often begins after the age of 30 and can come and go over time.  Triggers can be cold weather, alcohol, spicy foods, stress, and excessive sun exposure.  Seek out the professional help of a dermatologist to recommend the best treatment. 

3. Dry patches of skin

Typically dry areas of skin occur during winter months when the weather is cold and dry causing your skin to lose hydration.  But if you notice other symptoms occurring along with the dry scaly skin such as constipation, fatigue, and weight gain, you might have an underactive thyroid aka hypothyroidism. This can be easily diagnosed with a blood test and from there a physician can determine the best course of action.  Another possible reason for dryness of skin is your diet.  Including rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids – walnuts, salmon, edamame, flaxseed, grass-fed beef – can supply you with the necessary fats your skin thrives on.

4. Freckles and moles

Freckles often appear early in life during childhood but if you are an adult and suddenly are dotted with spots more so than usual, it’s most likely from excessive sun exposure.  Freckles are flat small tan or light-brown spots on sun-exposed skin.  Some people have just a few while others are covered head to toe.  There are treatments to help lighten or eliminate freckles but generally they are considered harmless and hardly ever develop into skin cancer. 

Moles are a common pigmented skin lesion usually developing during adulthood.  They occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin.  They may be raised or completely flat and are more common in people prone to freckles who tend to have light complexions and blond or red hair and green or blue eyes.  The main concern with moles is if they change appearance.  If you notice a mole that changes in color, size, shape, texture, becomes scaly or dry, hard, itches or bleeds, see a dermatologist right away to rule out skin cancer. 

5. Psoriasis

This autoimmune disorder is when the immune system is telling the skin cells to grow too quickly forming scales and itchy, dry patches on the knees, elbows, scalp, torso, palms and soles of the feet.  The skin cells are not being shed fast enough which causes the cells to pile up on the skin’s surface, causing patches of red, thickened skin with silvery scales.  People with psoriasis should see a dermatologist and be aware they are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.  

6. Acanthosis nigricans

This skin condition affecting more than 3 million Americans causes the skin to develop dark, velvety patches in body folds and creases.  The areas where this condition can occur are the armpits, groin, neck, elbows, knees, knuckles, lips, palms, and soles of the feet.  The skin becomes darker, thicker, and feels like velvet to the touch.  Acanthosis nigricans can be a sign of an endocrine condition such as insulin-resistance which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Have your physician test your fasting blood glucose and insulin levels to see if they are abnormal.

7. Pale skin

Pale skin combined with a lack of energy can be a sign of iron deficiency.  The best way to treat this is to eat an iron-rich diet including foods like red meat, poultry, fish and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach.  Make sure to include a rich vitamin C source – citrus fruits – as vitamin C helps the absorption of iron.  An iron supplement can also be used in conjunction with an iron rich diet. 

8. Itchy skin

Your skin will itch for many, many reasons but if it seems to be in overdrive, then it could be an allergic reaction.  Pinpointing the culprit is not always easy as it could be related to something you ate, switching to a different soap, or a reaction to a medication.  Taking an oral anti-histamine is usually the first line of action to take but if the itchiness persists, go to a dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis.  Other factors to consider leading to itchy skin could be anemia, celiac disease or diabetes.