What Acne, Eczema and Other Skin Conditions Say About Your Health

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What Acne, Eczema and Other Skin Conditions Say About Your Health

What Acne, Eczema and Other Skin Conditions Say About Your Health

From common conditions to concerning ones
What Acne, Eczema and Other Skin Conditions Say About Your Health

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Born with just one birthday suit to last a lifetime, taking good care of your skin is important. As the body’s largest organ, it acts as a protective layer against germs and, along with your eyes and hair, can reveal a lot about your overall health.

Most everyone suffers from skin problems occasionally, ranging from ordinary conditions to more serious ones. Here are some of the most common and what they might mean.

Actinic keratosis

Actinic keratosis

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If you spend a lot of time sunning yourself on some of the best beaches in the world, it’s possible you may develop actinic keratosis, or patches of rough, scaly skin damaged by exposure to the sun. Something men and women over 40 should know about their health, these patches can be flat or slightly raised and are usually on the face, neck, scalp and hands. Because a small percentage can eventually become skin cancer, see a doctor if you notice a new spot or lesion.

Skin tag

Skin tag

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Typically found around the neck, underarms and eyelids, skin tags are estimated to affect nearly half of all adults. Harmless growths, they’re usually not painful but can get irritated if caught on jewelry or clothing. While the cause is unknown, they’re often hereditary and some research suggests they may be associated with diabetes and obesity. Unless they are uncomfortable, skin tags don’t need to be removed.

Acne

Acne

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With more than 40 million sufferers, acne is the most common skin problem in America. Coming in various forms including black and whiteheads, blemishes can lead to low self-esteem and depression. Caused by clogged pores, a variety of treatments are available to help restore healthy, glowing skin. Seeing a dermatologist is the best bet for determining which ones are most beneficial.

Rash

Rash

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There are a lot of scary ways stress affects your body, and breaking out in a rash could be one of them. Nearly everyone has had an unexplained rash at one time or another and most are probably not life-threatening. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, in some cases, they can be a sign of something more serious, and AAD suggests seeing a dermatologist or going to the emergency room if the rash is accompanied by a fever, covers your body, is sudden and spreads, begins to blister or is infected.

Dry skin

Dry skin

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Dry skin can be caused by a lot of things, including climate, so depending on where you live, it’s good to know how to protect your skin during harsh weather. But there are other causes of dry skin too. Aging causes the skin to thin out and become drier. Dry skin may also be one of the signs that you don’t drink enough water. The best way to treat it is to frequently use moisturizer, wear gloves if your hands are in water a lot or in extreme cases, a prescribed medicine.

Warts

Warts

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Caused by the human papillomavirus, warts come in a few different varieties. Most often found on the hands, feet and face, they aren’t dangerous, but they are contagious and can be spread just through touching them. Warts occasionally go away on their own, otherwise, they can be treated by freezing them off with liquid nitrogen or using a topical treatment like salicylic acid or cantharidin.

Melasma

Melasma

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More common in women than men, melasma is the appearance of brown patches on the face. Typically found on the forehead and cheeks, melasma occurs when the cells that produce color in the skin produce too much of it. Found more often in people with darker skin, melasma can be caused by the sun, hormonal changes or skincare products. Depending on the cause, melasma can go away on its own or be treated by a dermatologist.

Splinter hemorrhage

Splinter hemorrhage

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Looking like splinters or small red or brown lines under your fingernails, splinter hemorrhages are usually a result of injuring your nail. However, in some cases, they can be a symptom of heart disease or endocarditis (infection of the heart valves). Talk to your doctor if you notice them but don’t remember suffering an injury.

Butterfly rash on face

Butterfly rash on face

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Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that affects your joints, organs and skin. Though it can affect anyone, it’s most commonly found in women ages 15 to 44. Lupus can make you feel like you aren’t getting enough sleep, cause hair loss, a butterfly-like rash across the cheeks and nose, and mouth ulcers. Because its symptoms mimic many other illnesses, it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.

Changing or unusual moles

Changing or unusual moles

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Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers and while melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancers, it causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths. Melanomas can develop anywhere, but they’re most likely to begin on the chest and back of men and on the legs of women. Symptoms to watch for are changing or new moles, moles or freckles that appear unusual or spots with jagged borders. Too much sun is one habit doctors say can lead to cancer, so avoid getting burns or sun poisoning, use sunscreen and cover up.

Red scaly lesions

Psoriasis

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While science isn’t exactly sure what causes psoriasis, it’s a condition that affects roughly 125 million people worldwide. Appearing as red, scaly lesions, it can show up anywhere on the body but is most typical on the elbows and knees. Often itchy and painful, it isn’t contagious but it can be associated with more serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Flushing of the face

Rosacea

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Symptoms of rosacea are flushing of the face and visibly broken blood vessels. It’s a common skin condition that most often affects people with light skin, hair and eyes. Causing mild to severe symptoms, it can affect the sufferer’s self-esteem and cause symptoms of anxiety. To reduce flare-ups, use sun protection and avoid triggers like spicy foods and alcohol.

Blistering rash

Shingles

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Often a painful condition, shingles cause a blistering rash that can last up to four weeks. Found anywhere on the body, but most often on the torso, shingles are caused by the chickenpox virus and typically occur in men and women over 50. People with weakened immune systems can also get the virus.

Brittle hair and dry skin

Brittle hair and dry skin

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The first signs of thyroid disease often appear on the skin, nails and hair. Caused by an underactive thyroid gland, it’s more common in women than men. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include dry or itchy skin, brittle hair or hair loss and puffy hands and feet. Eating foods for a healthy thyroid is important and if you think you have symptoms of a thyroid disorder, talk to your doctor.

Itchy and peely skin on your feet

Athlete’s foot

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Walking barefoot through the locker room is a gym etiquette mistake you don’t want to make for a lot of reasons. One of them is to avoid getting athlete’s foot. A fungal infection, athlete’s foot can happen to anyone and results in itchy, peeling skin on the soles of the feet and between toes. Mild cases can be treated with over-the-counter remedies, while more severe ones may require a prescription.

Extreme itchiness

Eczema

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Referring to a group of conditions that cause red, inflamed skin, eczema affects more than 30 million Americans. From mild to severe cases, eczema’s hallmark symptom is extreme itching. Likely caused by genes or allergies, prevention is key in treating it, so it’s best to avoid common triggers like dry skin, certain detergents and other household items, and stress.

Hives

Hives

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A surprising number of things can cause hives, including sun exposure and exercise. Most of the time, however, hives are caused by an allergic reaction. Bee stings, latex and certain foods are common triggers, along with cats and other animals. Fortunately, for the afflicted, there are hypoallergenic dog breeds and many allergy-friendly restaurants. Hives can be treated using antihistamines, unless they induce trouble breathing or swallowing, which requires immediate emergency care.

Red moles or cherry angioma

Red moles or cherry angioma

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Those weird-looking red moles, or angiomas, that crop up on your arms and upper body are extremely common and chances of getting them increase with age. In fact, a study published on the National Institutes of Health website suggests that 75% of people over 75 have them. Benign growths consisting of small blood vessels, they typically don’t require treatment. In large numbers, though, they may be a sign of liver damage.

Dark circles

Dark circles

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One of the things that can happen when you get enough sleep is a reduced chance of developing dark circles. But it’s not just sleep loss that causes them — allergies, fluid retention, cigarette smoking and family history are also contributors. Aging can also cause the tissue beneath the eyes to weaken and sag. To help combat under-eye bags and circles, try getting enough sleep and engage in these other healthy habits that help keep you young.

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