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The skin is the largest organ of the body, with a total area of about 2 square meters. The skin protects us from microbes and the elements, helps regulate body temperature and permits the sensations of touch, heat and cold.
Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms, legs, and skin areas around the body. The disease has been around since ancient times, often surrounded by terrifying, negative stigmas and tales of leprosy patients being shunned as outcasts. Outbreaks of leprosy have affected, and panicked, people on every continent. The oldest civilizations of China, Egypt, and India feared leprosy was an incurable, mutilating, and contagious disease.
A carbuncle is a red, swollen, and painful cluster of boils that are connected to each other under the skin. A boil (or furuncle) is an infection of a hair follicle that has a small collection of pus (called an abscess) under the skin. Usually single, a carbuncle is most likely to occur on a hairy area of the body such as the back or nape of the neck. But a carbuncle also can develop in other areas of the body such as the buttocks, thighs, groin, and armpits.
A staph infection is caused by a Staphylococcus (or "staph") bacteria. Actually, about 25% of people normally carry staph in the nose, mouth, genitals, or anal area, and don’t have symptoms of an infection. The foot is also very prone to picking up bacteria from the floor. The infection often begins with a little cut, which gets infected with bacteria. This can look like honey-yellow crusting on the skin.
Cellulitis is a common infection of the skin and the soft tissues underneath. It happens when bacteria enter a break in the skin and spread.
Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection. It can appear anywhere on the body but usually attacks exposed areas.
A boil is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. At first, the skin turns red in the area of the infection, and a tender lump develops. After four to seven days, the lump starts turning white as pus collects under the skin.
A pilonidal cyst occurs at the bottom of the tailbone (coccyx) and can become infected and filled with pus. Once infected, the technical term is pilonidal abscess.
Fungal infections of the skin are very common and include athlete's foot, jock itch, ringworm, and yeast infections.
Worms don't cause ringworm. Rather, this superficial skin infection, also known as tinea, is caused by fungi called dermatophytes.
Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection and you don't have to be an athlete to get it. This annoying ailment occurs in boys, girls, men, and women of all ages.
Candidiasis is an infection caused by a group of yeast. There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans. These fungi live on all surfaces of our bodies.
This fungus is related more closely to the mold on stale bread or the yeast used to brew beer than to bacteria that usually cause infections. The mold is found on rose thorns, hay, sphagnum moss, twigs, and soil. Therefore, the infection is more common among gardeners who work with roses, moss, hay, and soil.
A fungal nail infection occurs when a fungus attacks a fingernail, a toenail, or the skin under the nail, called the nail bed.
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that causes either single or multiple raised, pearl-like bumps (papules) on the skin.
Shingles (herpes zoster) results from a reactivation of the virus that also causes chickenpox.
Chickenpox (varicella), a viral illness characterized by a very itchy red rash, is one of the most common infectious diseases of childhood.
Acne results from plugged hair follicles. Oil, dirt, and dead skin cells on the surface of your skin clog your pores and create pimples or small, localized infections. Treatments work to clear away bacteria and dry up the excess oils that lead to acne. Different acne treatments include lifestyle remedies, topical medication, oral medication, and medical procedures.
The treatment that’s right for you depends on your individual condition. If you have mild to moderate acne, such as whiteheads or blackheads, your treatment should be relatively easy. However, if you have cystic or inflammatory acne, your treatment may be more challenging. Cystic acne is one or more large, painful, red cysts under the surface of your skin. Your doctor or dermatologist can help you figure out what type of acne you have.
Many people with mild acne or pimples can manage their condition with lifestyle changes. Oil is a major cause of acne, so keeping your face clean and your hair away from it is important, especially if your hair tends to be greasy. Oils from your hair and face also build up on your bedding. Changing your pillowcase daily or weekly can help prevent this buildup.
Wash your face two to three times per day with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser that’s not abrasive. Don’t scrub your skin too hard. This can aggravate your skin even more. Also, try not to use skin care products that can be irritating, such as scented lotions or oil-based makeup. Choose moisturizers and sunscreens that are labeled “noncomedogenic.” This means that the product won’t clog your pores.
Though not prescribed as commonly as medication, a few medical procedures may be used to treat severe acne. These procedures can all typically be performed in your doctor’s office. They may be painful and in some cases cause scarring. Health insurance plans don’t always cover them, either. You should confirm that your health insurance will cover these procedures before you schedule them.
During drainage and extraction, your doctor manually drains large cysts that form under your skin. They remove fluids, dirt, pus, and dead skin inside the cyst to reduce infection and pain. Your doctor may inject antibiotics or a steroid into the cyst to speed healing and reduce the risk of scarring.
Laser therapy may also help improve acne infection. Laser light helps reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin that causes acne.
Chemical peels and microdermabrasion remove the top layer of your skin. In the process, whiteheads and blackheads are also removed.
Rather than a specific health condition, eczema is a reaction pattern that the skin produces in a number of diseases. It begins as red, raised tiny blisters containing a clear fluid atop red, elevated plaques. When the blisters break, the affected skin will weep and ooze. In older eczema, chronic eczema, the blisters are less prominent and the skin is thickened, elevated, and scaling. Eczema almost always is very itchy.
The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it's thought to be linked to an overactive response by the body's immune system to an irritant. It is this response that causes the symptoms of eczema. In addition, eczema is commonly found in families with a history of other allergies or asthma.
You might notice itchy patches on the hands, elbows, and in the "bending" areas of the body, such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. But eczema can appear anywhere, including the neck, chest, and eyelids. People who had atopic dermatitis as a child may see drier, scaly rashes as adults.
Eczema does not spread from person to person. However, it can spread to various parts of the body (for example, the face, cheeks, and chin [of infants] and the neck, wrist, knees, and elbows [of adults]).
Eczema is a nonspecific term for many types of skin inflammation (dermatitis). There are different categories of eczema, which include allergic, contact, irritant, and nummular eczema, which can be difficult to distinguish from atopic dermatitis. These types of eczema are listed and briefly described below. Atopy is a medical syndrome that includes three associated conditions that tend to occur in the same individual: atopic dermatitis, inhalant allergies, and asthma. All three components need not be present in the same individual simultaneously.
• Eczema is not a single health condition but a recognizable reaction pattern seen in a number of skin diseases.
• Atopic dermatitis, a common causes of eczema, is more prevalent in those with asthma and hay fever.
• Eczema signs and symptoms include tiny blisters (vesicles) that can weep and ooze, eventually producing crusted, thickened plaques of skin. It is almost always quite itchy.
• It is important to distinguish the different causes of eczema because effective treatments often differ.
• If eczema is produced by skin exposure to a specific substance, it can be helpful to avoid it.
• Keeping the skin healthy and moisturized can prevent certain kinds of eczema.
There are at least 11 different types of skin conditions that produce eczema. In order to develop a rational treatment plan, it is important to distinguish them. This is often not easy.
1. Atopic dermatitis: This health condition has a genetic basis and produces a common type of eczema. Atopic dermatitis tends to begin early in life in those with a predisposition to inhalant allergies, but it probably does not have an allergic basis. Characteristically, rashes occur on the cheeks, neck, elbow and knee creases, and ankles.
2. Irritant dermatitis: This occurs when the skin is repeatedly exposed to excessive washing or toxic substances.
3. Allergic contact dermatitis: After repeated exposures to the same substance, an allergen, the body's immune recognition system becomes activated at the site of the next exposure and produces eczema. An example of this would be poison ivy allergy.
4. Stasis dermatitis: It commonly occurs on the swollen lower legs of people who have poor circulation in the veins of the legs.
5. Fungal infections: This can produce a pattern identical to many other types of eczema, but the fungus can be visualized with a scraping under the microscope or grown in culture.
6. Scabies: It's caused by an infestation by the human itch mite and may produce a rash very similar to other forms of eczema.
7. Pompholyx (dyshidrotic eczema): This is a common but poorly understood health condition which classically affects the hands and occasionally the feet by producing an itchy rash composed of tiny blisters (vesicles) on the sides of the fingers or toes and palms or soles.
8. Lichen simplex chronicus: It produces thickened plaques of skin commonly found on the shins and neck.
9. Nummular eczema: This is a nonspecific term for coin-shaped plaques of scaling skin most often on the lower legs of older individuals.
10. Xerotic (dry skin) eczema: The skin will crack and ooze if dryness becomes excessive.
11. Seborrheic dermatitis: It produces a rash on the scalp, face, ears, and occasionally the mid-chest in adults. In infants, in can produce a weepy, oozy rash behind the ears and can be quite extensive, involving the entire body.
No. Psoriasis is not contagious. Psoriasis is not transmitted sexually or by physical contact. Psoriasis is not caused by lifestyle, diet, or bad hygiene.
While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, researchers consider environmental, genetic, and immune system factors as playing roles in the establishment of the disease.
• Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease.
• Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis.
• Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are more common in people with psoriasis.
• Psoriasis can be initiated by certain environmental triggers.
• A predisposition for psoriasis is inherited in genes.
• Although symptoms and signs vary, they include red, scaling plaques of itchy, elevated skin affecting the elbows, knees and scalp.
• Psoriasis is not contagious.
• Psoriasis gets better and worse spontaneously and can have periodic remissions (clear skin).
• Psoriasis is controllable with medication.
• Psoriasis is currently not curable.
• There are many promising new therapies, including newer biologic drugs
Plaque psoriasis signs and symptoms appear as red or pink small scaly bumps that merge into plaques of raised skin. Plaque psoriasis classically affects skin over the elbows, knees, and scalp and is often itchy. Although any area may be involved, plaque psoriasis tends to be more common at sites of friction, scratching, or abrasion. Sometimes pulling off one of these small dry white flakes of skin causes a tiny blood spot on the skin. This is a special diagnostic sign in psoriasis called the Auspitz sign.
Fingernails and toenails often exhibit small pits (pinpoint depressions) and/or larger yellowish-brown separations of the nail from the nail bed at the fingertip called distal onycholysis. Nail psoriasis may be confused with and incorrectly diagnosed as a fungal nail infection.
Symptoms and signs of guttate psoriasis include bumps or small plaques (½ inch or less) of red itchy, scaling skin that may appear explosively, affecting large parts of the skin surface simultaneously, after a sore throat.
In inverse psoriasis, genital lesions, especially in the groin and on the head of the penis, are common. Psoriasis in moist areas like the navel or the area between the buttocks (intergluteal folds) may look like flat red plaques without much scaling. This may be confused with other skin conditions like fungal infections, yeast infections, allergic rashes, or bacterial infections.
Symptoms and signs of pustular psoriasis include at rapid onset of groups of small bumps filled with pus on the torso. Patients are often systemically ill and may have a fever.
Erythrodermic psoriasis appears as extensive areas of red skin often involving the entire skin surface. Patients may often feel chilled.
Scalp psoriasis may look like severe dandruff with dry flakes and red areas of skin. It can be difficult to differentiate between scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis when only the scalp is involved. However, the treatment is often very similar for both conditions.
The exact cause remains unknown. A combination of elements, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors, are involved. It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family. Defects in immune regulation (white blood cells called T cells mistakenly target healthy cells instead of attacking foreign substances) and the control of inflammation are thought to play major roles. Despite research over the past 30 years, the "master switch" that turns on psoriasis is still a mystery.
There are several different forms of psoriasis, including plaque psoriasis or psoriasis vulgaris (common plaque type), guttate psoriasis (small, drop-like spots), inverse psoriasis (in the folds like of the underarms, navel, groin, and buttocks), and pustular psoriasis (small pus-filled yellowish blisters). When the palms and the soles are involved, this is known as palmoplantar psoriasis. In erythrodermic psoriasis, the entire skin surface is involved with the disease. Patients with this form of psoriasis often feel cold and may develop congestive heart failure if they have a preexisting heart problem. Nail psoriasis produces yellow pitted nails that can be confused with nail fungus. Scalp psoriasis can be severe enough to produce localized hair loss, plenty of dandruff, and severe itching.
Debidarsan Building, 2nd Floor,
83, S. P. Mukherjee Road,
Next to Ganesh Market,
Kolkata – 700026, West Bengal, India.
Mr. S. Bhattacharya
Dr. S. Chakraborty