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All About Common Skin Disorders
We'll tell you about some common skin disorders, explain some treatment options, and offer tips for prevention.

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Skin disorders vary greatly in symptoms and severity. They can be temporary or permament, and may be painless or painful. Some have situational causes, while others may be genetic. Some skin conditions are minor, and others can be life-threatening.

Common skin conditions include:

While most skin disorders are minor, others can indicate a more serious issue. Contact your doctor if you think you might have one of these common skin problems.

Temporary skin disorders

Many temporary skin conditions exist, including contact dermatitis and keratosis pilaris.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is one of the most common occupational illnesses. The condition is often the result of contact with chemicals or other irritating materials. These substances can trigger a reaction that causes the skin to become itchy, red, and inflamed. Most cases of contact dermatitis aren’t severe, but they can be rather itchy. Topical creams and avoiding the irritant are typical treatments.

Keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a minor condition that causes small, rough bumps on the skin. These bumps usually form on the upper arms, thighs, or cheeks. They’re typically red or white and don’t hurt or itch. Treatment isn’t necessary, but medicated creams can improve skin appearance.

Permanent skin disorders

Some chronic skin conditions are present from birth, while others appear suddenly later in life.

The cause of these disorders isn’t always known. Many permanent skin disorders have effective treatments that enable extended periods of remission. However, they’re incurable and symptoms can reappear at any time. Examples of chronic skin conditions include:

  • rosacea, which is characterized by small, red, pus-filled bumps on the face
  • psoriasis, which causes scaly, itchy, and dry patches
  • vitiligo, which results in large, irregular patches of skin

Skin disorders in children

Skin disorders are common in children. Children can experience many of the same skin conditions as adults. Infants and toddlers are also at risk for diaper-related skin problems. Since children have more frequent exposure to other children and germs, they may also develop skin disorders that rarely occur in adults. Many childhood skin problems disappear with age, but children can also inherit permanent skin disorders. In most cases, doctors can treat childhood skin disorders with topical creams, medicated lotions, or condition-specific drugs.

Common childhood skin disorders include:

  • eczema
  • diaper rash
  • seborrheic dermatitis
  • chickenpox
  • measles
  • warts
  • acne
  • fifth disease
  • hives
  • ringworm
  • rashes from bacterial or fungal infections
  • rashes from allergic reactions

Symptoms of skin disorders

Skin conditions have a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms on your skin that appear due to common problems aren’t always the result of a skin disorder. Such symptoms can include blisters from new shoes or chafing from tight pants. However, skin problems that have no obvious cause may indicate the presence of an actual skin condition that requires treatment.

Skin irregularities that are typically symptoms of a skin disorder include:

  • raised bumps that are red or white
  • a rash, which might be painful or itchy
  • scaly or rough skin
  • peeling skin
  • ulcers
  • open sores or lesions
  • dry, cracked skin
  • discolored patches of skin
  • fleshy bumps, warts, or other skin growths
  • changes in mole color or size
  • a loss of skin pigment
  • excessive flushing

Causes of skin disorders

Common known causes of skin disorders include:

  • bacteria trapped in skin pores and hair follicles
  • fungus, parasites, or microorganisms living on the skin
  • viruses
  • a weakened immune system
  • contact with allergens, irritants, or another person’s infected skin
  • genetic factors
  • illnesses affecting the thyroid, immune system, kidneys, and other body systems

Numerous health conditions and lifestyle factors can also lead to the development of certain skin disorders. Some skin conditions have no known cause.

Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is a term for a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract. These bowel-related disorders often cause skin problems. The drugs used to treat these diseases can cause certain skin conditions, such as:


Many people with diabetes experience a skin problem as a result of their condition at some point. Some of these skin disorders only affect people with diabetes. Others occur more frequently in people with diabetes because the disease increases the risk for infection and blood circulation problems. Diabetes-related skin conditions include:


Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can damage the skin, joints, or organs inside the body. Common skin problems that occur from lupus include:

  • round lesions on the face and head
  • thick, red, scaly lesions
  • red, ring-shaped lesions on body parts exposed to sunlight
  • flat rash on the face and body that looks like a sunburn
  • red, purple, or black spots on fingers and toes
  • sores inside the mouth and nose
  • tiny red spots on the legs


Pregnancy causes significant changes in hormone levels that may lead to skin problems. Pre-existing skin problems may change or get worse during pregnancy. Most skin conditions that arise during pregnancy go away after the baby is born. Others require medical attention during pregnancy.

Common skin conditions caused by pregnancy include:


Stress can cause hormonal imbalances, which may trigger or aggravate skin disorders. Stress-related skin problems include:


The sun can cause many different skin disorders. Some are common and harmless, while others are rare or life-threatening. Knowing if the sun causes or worsens your skin disorder is important for treating it properly.

Sunlight exposure may cause or aggravate the following conditions:

Treating skin disorders

Many skin disorders are treatable. Common treatment methods for skin conditions include:

  • antihistamines
  • medicated creams and ointments
  • antibiotics
  • vitamin or steroid injections
  • laser therapy
  • targeted prescription medications

Not all skin disorders respond to treatment. Some conditions go away without treatment. People with permanent skin conditions often go through periods of severe symptoms. Sometimes, people are able to force incurable conditions into remission. However, most skin conditions reappear due to certain triggers, such as stress or illness.

You can often treat skin disorders that are temporary and cosmetic with:

  • medicated makeup
  • over-the-counter skin care products
  • good hygiene practices
  • small lifestyle adjustments, such as making certain dietary changes

Preventing skin disorders

Certain skin disorders aren’t preventable, including genetic conditions and some skin problems due to other illnesses. However, it’s possible to prevent some skin disorders.

Follow these tips to prevent infectious skin disorders:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently.
  • Avoid sharing eating utensils and drinking glasses with other people.
  • Avoid direct contact with the skin of other people who have an infection.
  • Clean things in public spaces, such as gym equipment, before using them.
  • Don’t share personal items, such as blankets, hairbrushes, or swimsuits.
  • Sleep for at least seven hours each night.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid excessive physical or emotional stress.
  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Get vaccinated for infectious skin conditions, such as chickenpox.

Noninfectious skin disorders, such as acne and atopic dermatitis, are sometimes preventable. Prevention techniques vary depending on the condition. Here are some tips for preventing some noninfectious skin disorders:

  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and water every day.
  • Use moisturizer.
  • Avoid environmental and dietary allergens.
  • Avoid contact with harsh chemicals or other irritants.
  • Sleep for at least seven hours each night.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Protect your skin from excessive cold, heat, and wind.

Learning about proper skin care and treatment for skin disorders can be very important for skin health. Some conditions require the attention of a doctor, while you can address others safely at home. You should learn about your symptoms or condition and talk with your doctor to determine the best treatment methods.

Written by: Katherine Brind’Amour
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: [Ljava.lang.Object;@469d220
Published: Nov 6, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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