Your Doctor

10 Skin Conditions Explained

According to the British Skin Foundation, six out of 10 people in the UK have suffered from a skin condition, ranging from mild acne to more serious conditions but conflicting advice means many don’t know how to handle their condition. Here are some tips from Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa of Your Doctor for different skin conditions and how to avoid or treat them: 

1. Eczema: Eczema is a skin condition which causes inflamed and intensely itchy skin. When showering, using an emollient can help reduce the symptoms. It helps to keep the skin moist and stops cracking which helps with the symptoms. Soaps tend to have agents that dry out the natural moisturising factors in the skin.

2. Acne: Acne most commonly appears on the face. It causes spots which can be painful to touch. It is caused by oily skin which could be a result of hormonal changes. A useful tip for acne sufferers is to make sure to change pillowcases at least once a week, as dirt and sweat can build up on the pillow which exposes your pores to increased amounts of skin debris on the pillow case.

3. Warts: Warts are viral based growths on the skin which infect the top layer of the skin. They most commonly occur on the hands or feet and are easily passed around from person to person. Warts will usually disappear on their own, but this can take time- up to two years. To avoid coming into contact with warts, try and avoid sharing towels, flannels and socks with others- especially if they already have the virus. 

4. Ringworm: Fungal infections such as ringworm can cause nasty red and irritable rashes on the skin. This is usually best treated through an anti-fungal cream, which you can get over the counter. If you regularly suffer from it, try wearing loose, cotton clothing to avoid irritating the skin rashes any further. 

5. Impetigo: Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection which causes sores on the face. These quickly blister into crusty, itchy sores. Impetigo usually clears up on its own after a few weeks, however antibiotics will allow recovery to be reduced to 7-10 days and prevent the infection from spreading. Always consult your GP if you are concerned.

6. Psoriasis: Psoriasis causes flaky and crusty skin which can affect large patches of the body. It is caused by an increased skin cell production. Most people have a ‘trigger’ which causes their skin condition to come back or worsen. This could be an excessive alcohol, stress, a medicine (ibuprofen) or certain kinds of infection (throat). By finding your trigger, you may be able to avoid it, therefore limiting your psoriasis. 

7. Vitiligo: Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition which causes white patches to appear on the body. If you suffer from this, it is vital that you stay protected from the sun. Vitiligo is caused by a lack of melanin (brown pigment in the skin), so it is more important to use a high factor sun cream for extra protection. 

8. Skin Tags: Skin tags are small, fleshy growths which appear to hang off the skin. These are usually completely harmless and are extremely common. If they are causing problems for you, make sure to see your GP, as they can usually remove the tag easily by freezing or burning them. Never try and remove them yourself without medical advice from a professional doctor. 

9. Chilblains: Chilblains are small itchy patches which are a reaction to the cold temperatures. They can blister and cause discomfort, but it is rare for them to cause any more damage than this. It often affects extremities like toes, fingers and ears. If you suffer from Chilblains, avoid going out into the cold without suitable clothing if you can help it, as this could worsen them.

10. Moles: One of the most common skin conditions are moles. These are small coloured skin lesions which are usually brown in colour. Most moles are completely harmless, but you should always check your moles for uneven shape, growth or a change in colour. If you notice any of these changes, check with your GP immediately.