Skin issues on face

Common skin diseases and conditions

A number of skin conditions last a long time. Some may start in childhood and continue into adulthood. In some cases, the condition will not always be present but will flare up at certain times.

Seborrheic dermatitis

In babies, this is commonly known as cradle cap. Greasy and scaly patches of skin form on the baby’s skin, most commonly on the scalp. It is harmless and usually goes away on its own.

In adults, seborrheic dermatitis may appear anywhere, and is prone to flare up and disappear for the rest of a person’s life. The affected skin may be reddish, swollen, and appear greasy. A white-to-yellow crust may appear on the surface of the skin as well. Many treatments help to bring relief from symptoms.


Common growths on the skin that appear when the skin cells bunch up with tissue surrounding them.

Most people have moles and may develop new ones from time to time.

Moles have no symptoms, but should be regularly checked if they grow larger, appear abnormal, or change in color.


Abnormal moles may lead to melanoma, a serious and life-threatening skin cancer.

If moles have asymmetrical shapes, ragged edges, uneven colors, or change in size, they should be checked.

Patients with melanoma may have surgery, or undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments.


The skin condition rosacea is most commonly associated with redness. However, there are four subtypes that cause other symptoms as well:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea causes the typical redness, visible blood vessels, and flushing.
  • Ocular rosacea can cause red and irritated eyes, swollen eyelids, and symptoms that look like a stye.
  • Papulopustular rosacea causes redness, swelling, and is accompanied by breakouts that look like acne.
  • Phymatous rosacea causes the skin to thicken and have a bumpy texture.

There is no known cure for rosacea, but symptoms can and should be treated to keep the condition in check.


Lupus is a complex disorder that varies from person to person. The disease attacks the immune system, causing inflammation and pain.

While lupus can affect any part of the body, symptoms on the skin include red patches or ring shapes on the skin, sunburn-like rashes on the nose and cheeks, or circular rashes that don’t itch or hurt. These may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as headaches, fever, fatigue, and swollen, stiff, or painful joints.

Treatment includes various strength medications designed to help minimize the damage caused by lupus.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms typically include patches of abnormal skin. The affected skin is typically red, scaly, and very itchy. The affected areas vary in size and severity. There are five main types of psoriasis:

  • Plaque psoriasis causes thick red patches of skin.
  • Pustular psoriasis causes pustules surrounded by red skin.
  • Erythodermic psoriasis causes patches of skin that look like severe burns covering large portions of the body.
  • Inverse psoriasis causes a shiny red rash in the folds of the skin.
  • Guttate psoriasis causes small red spots on the scalp, face, torso, and limbs.


The condition is commonly found in infants and young children, though it continues into adulthood as well. Symptoms include rashes on the face, scalp, behind the elbows, or on the neck, wrists, ankles, or legs.

The rashes are very itchy and may become bumpy, change color, or thicken. In adults, the rashes may cover more of the body, causing very dry skin that is permanently itchy.

There are a few different types of eczema, each causing their own symptoms. There is no known cure for eczema. It either clears up on its own or the symptoms are treated with medications and creams.


Vitiligo is the loss of pigmentation in the skin. White patches of skin are the main symptom of vitiligo, and more commonly appear in areas where the skin is exposed to sunlight. People with vitiligo often lose their hair color early as well.

For some people, the symptoms are in one area, while others find that it spreads slowly over many years. There is no known cure for vitiligo. There are some medical and surgical treatment options, though they are not right for everyone.

Skin Conditions

What are the some of the most common skin care concerns?

Conditions of the skin are as varied as the human beings who have them. Age, ethnicity, environmental factors (including sun exposure), personal habits, and genetics all influence our skin. The information here is intended to serve as an overview of general skin care concerns, and should not replace the advice of a skin care professional, or dermatologist.

Acne – This is the most common skin condition in the United States. While it often affects teenagers who are undergoing hormonal changes, many adults suffer with acne, as well.

Acne lesions start with clogged pores. Buildup of dead skin cells around pores can make the natural oil in our skin (sebum) accumulate, resulting in a comedone (blackhead or whitehead). These comedones can become inflamed by the bacteria that naturally live on our skin, causing red bumps, pustules, or large cysts under the skin.

Acne ranges from mild disease that responds to treatment with topical creams or gels to severe disease that can cause scarring and requires oral medicine for treatment. Early treatment can help to prevent dark spots from inflammation (swelling) in the skin and scarring.

Mild acne can be treated with over-the-counter washes that contain alpha hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide. More severe acne can be treated with stronger medicines prescribed by a dermatologist. Your personal treatment will depend upon the cause of your acne, which can include bacteria, genetics, hormones, clogged pores, or a combination of those factors.

Common treatments include prescription vitamin A creams (retinoids), oral or topical (applied to the skin) antibiotics, and isotretinoin. Women may benefit from birth control pills and other medicines that work on hormones. Acne usually requires several months of treatment before improvement is seen.

Age spots or freckles – Age spots (lentigines) and freckles (ephelides) are commonly caused by sun exposure. They are flat, brown spots on the skin, otherwise known as “pigmented spots.” Age spots can occur in all skin types and usually arise later in life. Freckles usually occur in people with fair skin. There are several ways to lighten the appearance, including hydroquinone and Retin A. Hydroquinone is not a suitable treatment for persons with darker skin; if you have darker skin, a treatment that contains kojic acid can be used.

Aging skin — No matter who you are or what your ethnicity may be, your skin will require different care as the years go by. As we age, we experience changes as part of the natural aging process. These changes include increased dryness, changes in facial contour (shape) and in hair growth, and decreased sweating.

Smoking and sun exposure make our skin age more quickly. The most important change you can make to slow the appearance of expression lines is to avoid indoor tanning and protect yourself by avoiding mid-day sun, covering up, and applying a sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater. Products containing alpha hydroxy acids or retinol also help to reduce fine lines.

Dry skin is a common cause of itching, especially as we age. Dry skin can be prevented by avoiding excessively hot water in the shower or bath, using gentle soaps or cleansers, and moisturizing your skin at least twice daily.

Dark skin – If you are African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Southern European, certain lightening and anti-aging treatments should be used with caution, especially if you have sensitive skin. Products with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), hydroquinone, and tretinoin can cause hyperpigmentation (dark spots) through irritation of the skin, and chemical reactions that deposit pigment. Products containing mandelic acid and copper peptide, which can firm the skin, can be used safely.

Eczema – This itchy, red rash comes in many forms and can appear anywhere on the body. It can affect all ages, but is most common in children with a history of allergies, asthma, or a family history. Gentle skin care and lifestyle changes are as important as medicine to prevent flares. Medicines, including steroid creams, topical immunomodulators (TIMs), antihistamines, and antibiotics, may be used to decrease inflammation, treat infection, and help with itch. Severe eczema may require systemic (affecting the whole body) medicines. As with other skin conditions, it is important to receive a proper diagnosis from a dermatologist for appropriate treatment.

Melasma – Melasma causes brown or tan patches, most often on the face, neck, or upper lip. The condition is triggered by sun exposure or hormonal changes, including pregnancy or taking birth control pills. Melasma is more common in women, but can also affect men. If you think you have melasma, but you haven’t visited a physician or dermatologist, it is important to receive an official diagnosis before beginning any treatment. This condition is commonly treated with hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid, L-ascorbic acids (Vitamin C), or mandelic acid. To ensure effective treatment, you should use a sunscreen at all times.

Rosacea – This skin disease starts with a tendency to flush or blush, often with triggers like spicy food or alcohol. It can cause redness of the cheeks and nose, visible blood vessels, red bumps, pimples, and even grittiness in the eyes. It’s important to realize that rosacea is a chronic (long-term) condition that can get worse if treatment is delayed. A dermatologist can examine your skin to determine if you have rosacea, and recommend treatment. Depending on the type of rosacea you have, your dermatologist may recommend topical antibiotics, retinoids, or vasoconstrictors. Oral antibiotics may be effective in more severe cases, and laser treatments can improve redness and visible blood vessels.

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12 summer skin problems you can prevent

An itchy rash or sunburned skin can quickly sideline summer fun. You can help keep your days carefree and easygoing by learning how to prevent these summer skin problems.

  1. Acne breakouts. When sweat mixes with bacteria and oils on your skin, it can clog your pores. If you have acne-prone skin, this often means breakouts. Dermatologists recommend the following to help prevent acne:

      Blot sweat from your skin with a clean towel or cloth. Wiping sweat off can irritate your skin, which can lead to a breakout.
  2. Wash sweaty clothes, headbands, towels, and hats before wearing them again.
  3. Use non-comedogenic products on your face, neck, back, and chest. The label may also say “oil free” or “won’t clog pores.”

    You’ll find more ways to prevent breakouts at, Acne: Tips for managing

    Prevent acne breakouts

    Blot sweat from your skin with a clean towel or cloth. Wiping sweat off can irritate your skin, which can lead to a breakout.

  4. Dry, irritated skin. When outdoor air is hot and humid, you can still have dry irritated skin. The biggest culprits are spending time in the sun, pool, and air-conditioning. If your skin starts to feel dry and irritated despite the humidity, try these tips:

      Shower and shampoo immediately after getting out of the pool, using fresh, clean water and a mild cleanser or body wash made for swimmers.
  5. Apply sunscreen before going outdoors, using one that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30+, and water resistance.
  6. Use a mild cleanser to wash your skin. Soaps and body washes labeled “antibacterial” or “deodorant” can dry your skin.
  7. Take showers and baths in warm rather than hot water.
  8. Slather on a fragrance-free moisturizer after every shower and bath. Moisturizer works by trapping water in your skin, so you’ll need to apply it within 5 minutes of taking a shower or bath.
  9. Carry moisturizer with you, so you can apply it after washing your hands and when your skin feels dry.
  10. Turn up the thermostat if the air conditioning makes your home too dry.

    Prevent dry, irritated skin

    Shower and shampoo immediately after getting out of the pool, using fresh, clean water and a mild cleanser or body wash made for swimmers.

  11. Folliculitis. Every hair on your body grows out of an opening called a follicle. When follicles get infected, you develop folliculitis. Infected hair follicles look like pimples, but they tend to be itchy and tender. To reduce your risk of getting folliculitis this summer:

      Immediately after your workout, change out of tight workout clothes like biking shorts and shower.
  12. Stay out of hot tubs and whirlpools if you’re unsure whether the acid and chlorine levels are properly controlled.So many people get folliculitis from a hot tub that there is actually a condition called “hot tub folliculitis.”
  13. Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes when it’s hot and humid.
  14. Infection from a manicure or pedicure. Manicures and pedicures can leave your nails looking great, but they can also expose you to germs that can cause an infection.
    You don’t have to give up manicures and pedicures. Taking some precautions can help you avoid an infection.
    You’ll find out what dermatologists recommend at, Manicure and pedicure safety.

    Infection from a manicure or pedicure

    Manicures and pedicures can leave your nails looking great, but they can also expose you to germs that can cause an infection. Find out what dermatologists recommend.

  15. Melasma. Being out in the sun can make those brown to gray-brown patches on your face more noticeable.
    There are things you can do to make it less noticeable even during the summer, Melasma: Tips for managing.

  16. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac (rash). Many people develop an intensely itchy rash when a substance found in these plants, urushiol, gets on their skin.
    The best way to avoid this itchy rash is to learn what these plants look like and avoid them. You’ll find out how to identify these plants and protect your skin when you cannot avoid them at, Poison ivy, oak, and sumac.

    Poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash

    Many people develop an intensely itchy rash when a substance found in these plants, urushiol, gets on their skin. The best way to avoid it is to learn what these plants look like.

  17. Prickly heat (or heat rash). Blocked sweat glands cause this. Because the sweat cannot get out, it builds up under your skin, causing a rash and tiny, itchy bumps. When the bumps burst and release sweat, many people feel a prickly sensation on their skin.
    Anything you can do to stop sweating profusely will help reduce your risk. Tips that dermatologists offer to their patients to help them sweat less and thereby lessen their risk of getting prickly heat include:

      Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes made of cotton.
  18. Exercise outdoors during the coolest parts of the day or move your workout indoors where you can be in air-conditioning.
  19. Try to keep your skin cool by using fans, cool showers, and air-conditioning when possible.
  20. Seabather’s eruption. Also called pica-pica, this itchy rash develops in people who go in the Caribbean Sea and the waters off the coasts of Florida and Long Island, New York. You get it when newly hatched jellyfish or sea anemones get trapped between your skin and your swimsuit, fins, or other gear.
    The larvae are as small as a speck of pepper, so you won’t see them in the water. You can, however, prevent this rash if you:

      Stay out of infested water. When the water is infested, you may see a sign that tells you to stay out of the water, or you may hear about someone who recently developed an itchy rash after being in the water.
  21. Seabather’s eruption

    This itchy rash develops in people who go in the Caribbean Sea and the waters off the coasts of Florida and Long Island, New York.


    If your skin stings with brisk rubbing, stop. You (or your child) may have seabather’s eruption.

  22. Sun allergy. You can develop hives (an allergic skin reaction) when you’re in the sun if you:

      Take certain medications
  23. Have a sun sensitivity (usually runs in the family) If you have an allergic reaction to the sun, you’ll see red, scaly, and extremely itchy bumps on some (or all) bare skin. Some people also get blisters.
    To prevent an allergic skin reaction:
      Check your medication container (or ask your pharmacist) to find out if it can cause an allergic reaction when you go out in the sun. Medications that can cause an allergic sun reaction include ketoprofen (found in some pain meds) and these antibiotics — tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline. If the medicine can cause a reaction, stay out of the sun.
  24. Protect your skin from the sun. You can do this by seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothes, and applying sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and an SPF of 30 or more.
  25. Sunburn. Getting sunburn can spoil summer fun and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Here’s what you can do to prevent sunburned skin:

      Seek shade
  26. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants when possible
  27. Apply sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30+, and water resistance
  28. You’ll find more tips to protect your skin from the sun at, Prevent skin cancer.

    Prevent sunburn

    Seek shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants when possible.

  29. Swimmer’s ear. When water gets trapped in your ear canal, you can develop an infection called swimmer’s ear.
    You can prevent this infection by keeping your ears dry. Here’s what dermatologists recommend:

      Wear ear plugs while swimming
  30. Never clean your ears with cotton swabs because these can push earwax and dirt deeper into your ear canal and irritate your ear

    Prevent swimmer’s ear

    You can prevent this infection by keeping your ears dry: Wear earplugs while swimming.

  31. Swimmer’s itch. Also called clam digger’s itch, this itchy rash appears after wading or swimming in lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water. You get it when parasites in the water burrow into your skin, causing tiny red spots on areas that your swimsuit didn’t cover. Sometimes, intensely itch welts (hives) and blisters appear.
    Children are especially susceptible because they tend to stay in shallow, warmer water.
    You can prevent swimmer’s itch by taking the following precautions:

      Stay out of infested water. When the water is infested, you may see a sign that tells you to stay out of the water, or you may hear about someone who recently developed an itchy rash after being in the water.
  32. Briskly rub your skin (and your child’s skin) with a towel after getting out of the water. The parasites start to burrow when the water on your skin begins evaporating not while you’re in the water.
  33. Stay out of infested waters to prevent swimmer’s itch

    When the water is infested, you may see a sign that tells you to stay out of the water, or you may hear about someone who recently developed an itchy rash after being in the water.

When to call a dermatologist

While these summer skin problems can dampen your fun, they’re usually not serious. Most go away in a few days to a few weeks. If a rash or other skin problem lingers or worsens, you should call your dermatologist’s office.

If you don’t have a dermatologist, you can find one at Find a dermatologist.

Getty Images

Khachemoune A, Yalamanchili R, et al. “What is your diagnosis? Seabather’s eruption.” Cutis. 2006;77:148, 151-2.

Wolff K et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (seventh edition). McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008:

  • Daly JS. Scharf MJ. “Bites and stings of terrestrial and aquatic life.” 2048-9.

  • Elston DM. “Sports dermatology.” 877.

  • Lim HW. “Abnormal responses to ultraviolet radiation: Photosensitivity induced by exogenous agents.” 828-32.

  • Mauro TM and Goldsmith LA. “Biology of eccrine, apocrine, and apoeccrine sweat glands.” 730.

Top 10 Skin Disorders a Dermatologist Encounters

Final Thoughts

As we mentioned at the beginning, our skin is the largest organ we have. Plus, its role is an important one – it protects all of our other organs. With that being said, it’s obvious that skin care is vital. Numerous skin conditions can be avoided with prevention. If we still experience skin disorders, medical dermatology can be of great help.

We might think that our condition isn’t worthy of a dermatologist’s attention, but we are wrong. Dermatologists can help us choose the most effective treatment for our symptoms and speed up the healing process.

Furthermore, they can help us feel good about ourselves. Various skin conditions can leave us feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable. There’s no need to feel that way, though. A simple visit to the doctor’s office could help us combat our skin disorders much more effectively.

If you’re looking to visit a Dermatologist NYC – Best Modern Care | Dermatology and Laser Group, then feel free to book an appointment with us here. We’re located in Midtown, Manhattan.

All About Common Skin Disorders

There are many different types of skin disorders. Here is a list of 25 with pictures.

Warning: graphic images ahead.


  • Commonly located on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, and upper back
  • Breakouts on the skin composed of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or deep, painful cysts and nodules
  • May leave scars or darken the skin if untreated

Read full article on acne.

Cold sore

  • Red, painful, fluid-filled blister that appears near the mouth and lips
  • Affected area will often tingle or burn before the sore is visible
  • Outbreaks may also be accompanied by mild, flu-like symptoms such as low fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes

Read full article on cold sores.


  • Characterized by watery, clear, fluid-filled area on the skin
  • May be smaller than 1 cm (vesicle) or larger than 1 cm (bulla) and occur alone or in groups
  • Can be found anywhere on the body

Read full article on blisters.


  • Itchy, raised welts that occur after exposure to an allergen
  • Red, warm, and mildly painful to the touch
  • Can be small, round, and ring-shaped or large and randomly shaped

Read full article on hives.

Actinic keratosis

  • Typically less than 2 cm, or about the size of a pencil eraser
  • Thick, scaly, or crusty skin patch
  • Appears on parts of the body that receive a lot of sun exposure (hands, arms, face, scalp, and neck)
  • Usually pink in color but can have a brown, tan, or gray base

Read full article on actinic keratosis.


Share on PinterestBy M. Sand, D. Sand, C. Thrandorf, V. Paech, P. Altmeyer, F. G. Bechara , via Wikimedia Commons

  • Chronic skin disease that goes through cycles of fading and relapse
  • Relapses may be triggered by spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, sunlight, stress, and the intestinal bacteria Helicobacter pylori
  • There are four subtypes of rosacea encompassing a wide variety of symptoms
  • Common symptoms include facial flushing, raised, red bumps, facial redness, skin dryness, and skin sensitivity

Read full article on rosacea.


  • Red, painful, and irritated lump under your skin
  • May be accompanied by fever, body aches, and fatigue
  • Can cause skin crustiness or oozing

Read full article on carbuncles.

Latex allergy

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

  • Rash may occur within minutes to hours after exposure to a latex product
  • Warm, itchy, red wheals at the site of contact that may take on a dry, crusted appearance with repeated exposure to latex
  • Airborne latex particles may cause cough, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes
  • A severe allergy to latex can cause swelling and difficulty breathing

Read full article on latex allergies.


  • Yellow or white scaly patches that flake off
  • Affected areas may be red, itchy, greasy, or oily
  • Hair loss may occur in the area with the rash

Read full article on eczema.


Share on PinterestMediaJet/Wikimedia Commons

  • Scaly, silvery, sharply defined skin patches
  • Commonly located on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back
  • May be itchy or asymptomatic

Read full article on psoriasis.


This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

  • Caused by bacteria or fungi entering through a crack or cut in the skin
  • Red, painful, swollen skin with or without oozing that spreads quickly
  • Hot and tender to the touch
  • Fever, chills, and red streaking from the rash might be a sign of serious infection requiring medical attention

Read full article on cellulitis.


Share on PinterestContent Providers(s): CDC/Dr. Heinz F. Eichenwald , via Wikimedia Commons

  • Symptoms include fever, sore throat, red, watery eyes, loss of appetite, cough, and runny nose
  • Red rash spreads from the face down the body three to five days after first symptoms appear
  • Tiny red spots with blue-white centers appear inside the mouth

Read full article on measles.

Basal cell carcinoma

  • Raised, firm, and pale areas that may resemble a scar
  • Dome-like, pink or red, shiny, and pearly areas that may have a sunk-in center, like a crater
  • Visible blood vessels on the growth
  • Easy bleeding or oozing wound that doesn’t seem to heal, or heals and then reappears

Read full article on basal cell carcinoma.

Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Often occurs in areas exposed to UV radiation, such as the face, ears, and back of the hands
  • Scaly, reddish patch of skin progresses to a raised bump that continues to grow
  • Growth that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal, or heals and then reappears

Read full article on squamous cell carcinoma.


  • The most serious form of skin cancer, more common in fair-skinned people
  • Mole anywhere on the body that has irregularly shaped edges, asymmetrical shape, and multiple colors
  • Mole that has changed color or gotten bigger over time
  • Usually larger than a pencil eraser

Read full article on melanoma.


Share on PinterestBy Doktorinternet (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

  • Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, fever, and swollen or painful joints
  • Scaly, disc-shaped rash that doesn’t itch or hurt
  • Scaly red patches or ring shapes most commonly located on the shoulders, forearms, neck, and upper torso that worsen with exposure to sunlight
  • Warm, red rash that spreads across the cheeks and bridge of the nose like butterfly wings and worsens in the sun

Read full article on lupus.

Contact dermatitis

  • Appears hours to days after contact with an allergen
  • Rash has visible borders and appears where your skin touched the irritating substance
  • Skin is itchy, red, scaly, or raw
  • Blisters that weep, ooze, or become crusty

Read full article on contact dermatitis.


  • Loss of pigment in the skin due to autoimmune destruction of the cells that give skin its color
  • Focal pattern: loss of skin color in only a few small areas that may merge together
  • Segmental pattern: depigmentation on one side of the body
  • Premature graying of scalp and/or facial hair

Read full article on vitiligo.


Share on PinterestDermnet

  • Caused by many different types of a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • May be found on the skin or mucous membranes
  • May occur singly or in groups
  • Contagious and may be passed to others

Read full article on warts.


  • Clusters of itchy, red, fluid-filled blisters in various stages of healing all over the body
  • Rash is accompanied by fever, body aches, sore throat, and loss of appetite
  • Remains contagious until all blisters have crusted over

Read full article on chickenpox.

Seborrheic eczema

  • Yellow or white scaly patches that flake off
  • Affected areas may be red, itchy, greasy, or oily
  • Hair loss may occur in the area with the rash

Read full article on seborrheic eczema.

Keratosis pilaris

  • Common skin condition most often seen on the arms and legs, but might also occur on the face, buttocks, and trunk
  • Often clears up on its own by age 30
  • Patches of skin that appear bumpy, slightly red, and feel rough
  • May get worse in dry weather

Read full article on keratosis pilaris.


Share on PinterestJames Heilman/Wikimedia Commons

  • Circular-shaped scaly rashes with raised border
  • Skin in the middle of the ring appears clear and healthy, and the edges of the ring may spread outward
  • Itchy

Read full article on ringworm.


  • Common skin condition that causes dark patches to appear on the face and, rarely, the neck, chest, or arms
  • More common in pregnant women (chloasma) and individuals with darker skin color and heavy sun exposure
  • No other symptoms beyond skin discoloration
  • May go away on its own within a year or may become permanent

Read full article on melasma.


  • Common in babies and children
  • Rash is often located in the area around the mouth, chin, and nose
  • Irritating rash and fluid-filled blisters that pop easily and form a honey-colored crust

Read full article on impetigo.

Skin Conditions, Explained

Image zoom Andreas Kuehn/Getty Images

Jump to: Symptoms | Treatment | Acne | Cold Sore | Eczema | Hives | Lupus | Ringworm | Shingles | Skin Cancer | Vitiligo | Warts

Your body’s biggest organ, your skin shields you from the elements—but while it’s tough, it’s not impenetrable. Allergens, environmental irritants, infection, hereditary factors, and stress are just a few of the forces that can trigger or exacerbate skin troubles.

The terms “skin condition” and “skin disorder” are used interchangeably to describe various skin problems, from small red bumps on the skin to widespread rashes. Some skin conditions can be unsightly but harmless, while others may be contagious. Many skin conditions are also itchy or painful.

Allergic skin conditions occur when allergens (certain foods, animal dander, wool, or soaps, for example) trigger an immune system response, such as redness and itching. Viruses, fungi, bacteria, or parasites can also cause skin issues to develop. Some skin problems have a genetic component. For example, eczema, which causes weeping, blister-like rashes, is more common in allergy-prone families.

To diagnose skin conditions, doctors typically consider a person’s medical history and physical symptoms. Assessing the size, shape, location, and color of bumps, blisters, and rashes can help doctors pinpoint the exact cause. Other non-skin symptoms may offer clues as well. Sometimes doctors must remove a growth or take a skin sample for examination under a microscope.

RELATED: 7 Things Every Woman Should Know About Her Skin

Symptoms of skin conditions

Your skin can be a reflection of your overall health, and as such, changes in color, texture, or appearance may signal trouble.

Inflammation of the skin is a common symptom of skin disorders, such as psoriasis and eczema.

Red splotches on the skin may be a sign of contact dermatitis (an itchy rash triggered by an allergen, such as nickel, the metal found in some jewelry). Red blotches on the face may rosacea, a common skin problem that can be mistaken for acne.

Tiny red dots on the skin, called petechiae, occur when the smallest blood vessels in the body, called capillaries, bleed into the skin. Petechiae can be a sign of certain infections, medical conditions, or physical trauma.

Small red spots on the face that turn into skin sores that ooze and crust are a symptom of impetigo, a skin infection that usually affects children.

Common signs of skin conditions:

  • Itch
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Rash
  • Flaky, scaly skin
  • Blisters
  • Oozing
  • Bumps or growths

RELATED: The Best Moisturizers for Rosacea, According to Dermatologists

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Treatment for skin disorders

Many options are available for treating skin disorders. The choice depends on the type of skin condition you have, its symptoms, and the severity of these symptoms.

Ointments, creams, sprays, gels, and other treatments applied directly to the skin are commonly recommended. In some cases, doctors may prescribe oral or injectable medicines.

Some more stubborn skin conditions may require a multi-pronged approach. For example, someone with psoriasis or severe eczema may be prescribed steroid ointments or creams to reduce inflammation, topical coal tar products for itch relief, and light therapy to clear up rashes.

Skin cancer or warts may require surgery.

Common skin condition treatments:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Antivirals
  • Antifungals
  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Light therapy
  • Surgery

RELATED: How to Care for Your Sensitive Skin

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Most common skin disorders

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Acne occurs when oil and dead skin cells clog the pores. Pimples under the skin’s surface that erupt with a white center are called whiteheads, while pimples exposed to air (called blackheads) look black. Other skin blemishes, including pink bumps; red, pus-filled pimples; nodules; or cysts, may form. Acne usually appears on the face, back, neck, chest, and shoulders. Teens are more prone to getting acne. Bacteria (P. acnes) and inflammation can play a role in determining when pimples crop up, as can changes in hormones (they trigger excess oil production, resulting in clogged pores). Topical treatments and other medicines can help unclog pores and prevent new breakouts.

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Cold sores are tiny, painful, fluid-filled blisters that often appear in clusters on or around the lips. They are a viral infection and contagious. People may experience a tingling sensation in the affected area before a breakout. Cold sores (which are also called fever blisters) are caused by type 1 of the herpes simplex virus. (Type 2 of this virus affects the genital area.) There’s no cure for cold sores, but antiviral medications can speed recovery.

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Eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition. The most common type (atopic dermatitis) usually occurs in childhood. Commonly, kids with atopic dermatitis develop a red rash on their face, scalp, hands, or feet. Elbows and knees may be affected. Other types of eczema affect adults and may cause blistering. Eczema may be chronic, but it’s not contagious. It tends to be more common in families with asthma and allergy. Treatment includes medicines to relieve itch and inflammation and prevent flare-ups.

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Hives are itchy, raised welts that can be red or skin-colored. Many cases occur due to an allergic reaction. Possible triggers include foods, insect bites, medications, and latex exposure. Hives are usually temporary, but some people can develop chronic hives. Antihistamines are often recommended to block or reduce the body’s allergic response and ease itch. In severe or chronic cases, patients may be prescribed corticosteroids or stronger drugs.


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Some people with lupus have a variety of symptoms, ranging from fatigue to joint pain, while others have only skin symptoms. A butterfly-shaped rash across the face is a classic symptom of lupus. Some people can also have raised, disc-shaped red patches on sun-exposed areas. Lupus is an autoimmune condition, meaning the body attacks its own tissues and organs. It is more common in women than men. There’s no cure for lupus, but treatment can alleviate symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

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Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus that can be itchy. On many areas of the skin, it appears as a round patch with a clear center. When it affects the scalp (tinea capitis), ringworm can cause scaly, red bald spots. Ringworm of the feet (called athlete’s foot) causes peeling, cracking, and possibly blisters. When ringworm affects the groin, it’s called jock itch. Ringworm is contagious but treatable with antifungal medicines.

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Shingles is a painful, blistering rash caused by the varicella zoster virus that wraps like a band across one side of the face or body. It only affects people who have previously had chickenpox. The first signs of shingles include skin sensitivity, itching, tingling, or pain. Days later, a rash of tiny fluid-filled blisters develops. Shingles isn’t passed from person to person, but people with shingles can give other people (usually children) chickenpox. Shingles is treated with antiviral medicines.

RELATED: I Got Shingles as a Healthy 34-Year-Old, and It Was the Worst Pain I Ever Felt

Skin cancer

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Nonmelanoma skin cancer frequently affects sun-exposed areas, including the head, face, neck, hands, and arms. There are two types of nonmelanoma skin cancer, including basal cell carcinomas (they may be dome-shaped with visible blood vessels and can look like open sores that won’t heal) and squamous cell carcinomas (they may form a crusty lump on the skin or rough, scaly patches that sometimes bleed). Melanoma (above), the most dangerous type of skin cancer, may cause dark spots, changes in moles, or a bruise that doesn’t heal. Depending on what type of skin cancer you have and how severe it is, treatment can include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

RELATED: Is It a Mole or Skin Cancer?

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People with this rare skin disorder develop white or lighter patches of skin, usually on both sides of the body. There are different types of vitiligo. Some people have localized vitiligo, in which only a few white spots appear, while others can have it on larger swaths of skin. The cause is unknown, but some experts believe it may be an autoimmune disease, and the body’s immune system is attacking pigment-producing cells. Light therapy and topical creams may be used to ease symptoms.

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Common warts are bumpy skin growths that usually appear on the hands. Foot warts (plantar warts) on the soles of the feet tend to be hard, and can be painful when you walk on them. Tiny black dots that look like seeds (actually dried blood from tiny blood vessels) may appear on the surface of warts. They are caused by the human papillomavirus and can be contagious. Warts often go away on their own, particularly in kids. A doctor can remove painful or bothersome warts using peeling medicines, acids, or freezing.

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What Causes Hypopigmentation, and How Is It Treated?

Problems with melanin production are linked to a variety of causes. Some are genetic conditions that may result in lighter skin throughout the body. Others are related to previous injuries, such as burns.

It’s also possible for hypopigmentation from an injury to develop into an associated condition.

Some of the most common conditions include:


Albinism is best known for extremely pale skin that may have little to no color. This genetic condition can also make your hair white and your eyes light blue in color. People with albinism are born with this condition because of a genetic mutation.

Like albinism, vitiligo is characterized by lighter skin. However, this occurs in patches that cover your skin, rather than a widespread lack of color. The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown. People who have this condition can develop lighter patches of skin anywhere on the body.

Pityriasis alba

Pityriasis alba refers to leftover white spots from previous cases of red, scaly skin patches. This condition tends to heal on its own over time. There’s no definitive cause for pityriasis alba, though it’s thought to be related to eczema. Children with this condition may outgrow it in adulthood.

Tinea versicolor

Tinea (pityriasis) versicolor stems from a fungal infection that occurs from overactive yeast on the skin. Though it doesn’t lead to complications, the resulting scaly spots can become a nuisance.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), this is one of the most prevalent skin diseases among people living in tropical or subtropical regions because these environments help fungus thrive. You may also be more prone to tinea versicolor if you sweat a lot or have oily skin.

Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus causes white patches that may eventually enlarge, bleed, and scar. These patches occur in the anal and genital areas. They can also develop on the breasts, arms, and upper body. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), lichen sclerosis is most common in women experiencing menopause.

Other causes

Widespread hypopigmentation is often genetic. That said, it’s possible for acquired conditions to result in temporary and even long-term discoloration.

This includes:

  • Atopic dermatitis. Also known as eczema, this skin condition causes red patches that are extremely itchy. As the skin heals, the patches may turn white.
  • Contact dermatitis. Touching chemicals may lead to this type of eczema and may cause lightened skin.
  • Healed blisters. As blisters heal, the affected skin flattens and may turn darker or lighter in color.
  • Infections of the skin. As your skin heals, lighter pigments may appear in areas affected by the infection.
  • Psoriasis. This autoimmune disorder causes your skin to produce new cells at an accelerated rate. Resulting silver and red patches may eventually heal and look lighter than the rest of your skin.
  • Scars and burns. These can lead to scar tissue that’s lighter than the surrounding skin.

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