Common skin conditions
Our skin is important as it provides protection from toxins and pollutants from the outside world. If skin is looked after well it does this job a lot better. Having nice skin also improves our confidence. There are a number of skin conditions which can damage this important barrier and it is important we know about them and their treatments. This page will give you an overview of the most common skin conditions our doctors treat on a day to day basis.
Acne is very common in adolescents as well as adults. It is caused by our sebaceous glands becoming blocked which can cause an overgrowth of bacteria. There are a lot of treatments for acne available and so there is no reason why people should be suffering from the physical and emotional effects of acne. We offer a lot of these treatments in our Private GP clinics in London and encourage you to see us to discuss this further. Do not suffer in silence!
Eczema is another common skin condition which can also be managed effectively with the correct treatment. This can cause inflammation of the skin which may need treatment with topical steroids. Some people may be wary about applying too much topical steroid in view of the potential side effects such as thinning of the skin. However, it can actually be more harmful to the skin if topical steroids are not used when needed. The most important treatment is making sure we lubricate the skin well with emollients. This provides a protective barrier against moisture loss and helps prevent dry skin. Emollients are also useful in other skin conditions such as psoriasis.
A skin condition which can be associated with eczema is urticaria, another name for hives. It presents with an itchy red rash and usually settles with antihistamines.
Psoriasis is a skin condition which causes red plaques on the body, most commonly the elbows and knees. It is a chronic skin condition which is thought to be an effect of the immune system, and a genetic link has also been implicated. It can be managed with various creams but sometimes, if very severe, may need referral to a Dermatologist for light therapy or to start medication to suppress your immune system.
What can cause a localised rash?
Some rashes can be similar in appearance to eczema and psoriasis and can be mistaken for this. One example is ringworm, which is a fungal infection. This needs treatment with an antifungal cream rather than steroid cream.
Impetigo is another rash which is more common in children but can also occur in adults. It is usually caused by overgrowth of a bacteria in the skin. Antibiotics may be needed to treat this.
Another localised type of skin infection if shingles (herpes zoster). This is caused by a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox (varicella zoster). You therefore can only have shingles if there is a previous history of chickenpox. Shingles is usually the only cause of a painful, tingling rash.
Can any skin conditions be dangerous?
There is definitely more awareness of skin cancer recently, especially with more people enjoying sunbeds and being out in the sun. The most well-known type of skin cancer is melanoma, as this is the skin cancer with the worst prognosis if not treated early. Melanomas can either present as a new mole, or a change in existing moles. So, it is important that if you do note any new moles or change in pigmentation, size or regularity of existing moles, to see a doctor. A skin lesion called seborrheic keratosis can sometimes look like a melanoma, but is in fact a benign type of skin wart.
Written by Dr Angeli Kanungo, General Practitioner
Published: October 2018
Review: October 2021