Most Common Skin Diseases and Their Diagnosis
Skin is an essential part of the human body. It protects the body from various environmental hazards. Skin diseases are common as this is the largest organ among the integumentary system’s organs in the human body. Dermatology deals with the skin and skin related appendages (hair, nails, etc.) and skin diseases. A doctor who deals with skin diseases is known as a dermatologist. The field of dermatology can be broadly classified into:
- Dermatopathology: This specialization deals with finding the causes and effects of skin disease. Dermatopathologists require significant knowledge of pathology and dermatology.
- Immunodermatology: This specialization is related to the treatment of immunological skin diseases.
- Cosmetic Dermatology: This specialization is related to beauty enhancement surgeries and procedures.
- Pediatric Dermatology: This specialization is related to the treatment or management of the pediatric population for various skin diseases.
- Dermatoepidemiology: This specialization deals with establishing the global burden of various skin diseases.
Common Skin Diseases and Their Treatment
Dermatologists deal with the treatment and management of over 3000 different skin diseases. The most common among these are:
Vitiligo is the loss of melanin from the skin which causes light colored patches. Till now there is no particular treatment for the disease but using sunscreens, phototherapy with ultraviolet B or A may be useful. Other options include hiding white patches with cosmetic creams or makeup, depigmentation in the case when more than 50% area has been affected.
Acne is clogging of hair follicles causing pimples, blackheads, etc. Commonly, acne does not require any treatment and go with time without any treatment. In case of mild acne, over-the-counter medicines including resorcinol, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, etc. may be useful. In case for moderate or severe acne, one should consult a dermatologist.
Dermatitis is most common among allergic skin diseases and causes inflamed and itchy skin. The most important thing is to know about the causative agent and to avoid it. Treatment may include the use of hydrocortisone for skin inflammations and oral antihistamine for itching. In the case of severity, a dermatologist should be consulted.
Psoriasis is scale-like formation on the surface of the skin. Topical treatment with corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, retinoid, and salicylic acid are helpful. Light therapy, oral retinoid, and oral methotrexate are also used to treat psoriasis.
Common Skin Warts
Common warts are benign skin growths caused by human papillomavirus infection. These can be treated with salicylic acid or propane freezing solution.
Chickenpox is among the most contagious skin diseases and causes clusters of red, itchy, fluid-filled blisters on the entire body caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Chickenpox commonly resolves without any treatment within one or two weeks. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infections and other medication from relieving pain and fever. Vaccination for children which is given in two doses: one dose at the age of 12 – 15 months and another dose at 4-6 years.
Diagnosis of Skin Diseases
Dermatologists utilize various procedures to diagnose different skin diseases. Commonly used methods to diagnose skin diseases are:
- Biopsy: Biopsy is the removal of small parts of the skin to check for skin diseases like skin cancer.
- Patch test: a Patch test is done to diagnose skin allergies including dermatitis. In this test, particular allergy-causing agents with adhesive patches are applied to the skin (back).
- Culturing: This test is used for the identification of pathogen causing some infections. The sample is taken from the skin which may include blisters content, skin scarping, etc.
Some skin diseases like chickenpox do not require any particular testing; a dermatologist can diagnose these by examining the symptoms.