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Skin problems

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Skin problems are very common. Some stem from the natural processes that occur in your body as you develop into an adult. Others are caused by germs, injury, or environmental conditions. Some problems can be avoided and cared for through simple first aid. For more serious problems, you should see a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a doctor who treats skin disorders.

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ACNE

Acne is a skin problem very common in teenagers. It is related to the natural change in the body during development, which cause an excess of sebum to be produced. The extra sebum causes blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples which are referred to as acne. A blackhead is plug of hardened sebum in a pore. The blackhead is darkened not by dirt but by exposure to air. A whitehead is plugged pore that is not exposed to air because the sebum has collected under the epidermis. Sometimes bacteria grow in trapped sebum. This causes pimples to form. A pimple is a blocked pore that is inflamed and infected. It may be filled with pus.

For many years, scientists thought that greasy foods or chocolate caused pimples. Recent research, however, has shown that foods rarely cause acne. Acne may become worse through eating some foods, though. The iodine in fish is one example. If you find that eating certain foods seems to increase your skin problems, avoid them.

Mild cases of acne can be treated by keeping the skin clean. Some dermatologists recommend washing the face with only a face cloth and warm water. Others suggest using only very mild soaps. You should also avoid picking or squeezing pimples and blackheads. Squeezing is likely to increase rather than relieve your problem, because it causes infection to spread.

If the acne is severe, you should consult your doctor. Serious cases of acne may result in scars. A doctor may prescribe various treatments, including the use of medicines. Overuse of some skin lotions may worsen the problems because they contribute to clogged pores. Use a cream or lotion only when suggested by your doctor. Fortunately, most people eventually outgrow their acne problems.

DERMATITIS

The word used to describe redness and swelling of the skin is dermatitis. Dermatitis is not a disease but a skin condition that may result from many different causes.

An allergy is a reaction of the body to an irritating substance. Pollen, dust, plants, and animals are common causes of various allergies. You may eat, breath in, or brush against the allergy causing substance. Some substances can affect your breathing or heart beat. At other times, your skin may be affected.

Eczema is a swelling and redness of the skin, including blisters and itching, usually caused by an allergic reaction. Sometimes it results from food, such as chocolate or tomatoes. Hives are bumps on the surface of the skin, usually caused by an allergic reaction to food or medicine. They may also be caused by emotional stress. The bumps may be small or cover large areas of the skin. Hives usually itch badly and burn. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to relieve the intense itching. If your think your have and allergic reaction, try to identify the cause so you can avoid it.

Dermatitis may be caused when a harsh or irritating substance touches the skin. Contact dermatitis, as it is called, can be caused by detergents, clothing, soaps, perfumes, hair dyes, and makeup.

One of the most common forms of contact dermatitis is a poison ivy rash. An oil in the sap of this plant causes the skin to turn red and blister, usually within 48 hours. Itching and burning usually occur. Some people even have headaches and fevers. With or without treatment, a poison ivy rash normally disappears within three weeks.

The oil in this sap is extremely potent. A single ounce of it can cause a rash on 28 million people. Even during the winter, the sap from a leafless broken vine can cause a reaction. The best way to avoid getting poison ivy is to avoid touching the plant.

SKIN INFECTIONS

Skin infections are problems caused by germs. They can generally be prevented by avoiding contact with an infected person or object. Different germs cause a variety of skin problems.

One of the skin infections caused by bacteria is an outbreak of boils. A boil is a hard, red lump that is tender to the touch and is caused by an infected hair follicle. Most boils will burst in about two weeks if left alone. Wet, hot compresses applied to the boil every few hours will relieve pain and encourage bursting. Do not pinch or mash a boil because this will spread the infection.

Another common bacterial infection is impetigo. Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria and characterized by small blisters that form yellow crusts. The infection spreads easily and enters the body through breaks in the skin, such as insect bites, cuts, and scrapes. The infected areas should be washed several times a day, enough to soak off any crusts. If it is more than a mild case, a doctor should be seen. Medicines are used to fight the bacteria both internally and at the site of the infection.

A wart is skin growth caused by virus. Warts are common in teenagers. Usually warts will disappear without treatment after several months. Warts that occur on the face, soles of the feet, or in the genital area should be examined and treated by a doctor.

Fungal infections are infections caused by a group of organisms, including yeasts and molds, that cause redness, itching, and flaking of the skin. The two most common types of fungal skin infections are ringworm and athlete’s foot. Ringworm gets its name from the way it looks; it is not caused by a worm.Ringworm is a fungus that causes red, scaly, round patches. Ringworm can be transferred from person to person or from a pet to person. It is not serious and is easily treated.

Athlete’s foot is an irritating and sometimes painful fungal infection of the moist skin under and between the toes. The fungus causes the skin to become red, flaky, and itchy. Drying the feet well, using an antifungal cream or ointment, and wearing absorbent cotton socks will help to end the infection and prevent its return.

SCALP PROBLEMS

Small flakes of dead skin from the scalp are called dandruff. These flakes appear when the skin cells on the scalp grow very fast. Dandruff may be caused by mild forms of skin diseases, such as eczema or psoriasis, but it is usually not a serious problem. If regular shampooing and careful rinsing do not control the flaking, antidandruff shampoos may help. If the shampoo does not work after a few weeks of application, you may wish to see a dermatologist.

When tiny animals called lice infest the hair, the condition is called pediculosis. Lice feed on the scalp, causing it to itch. They may also cause a rash on the neck. Lice lay their eggs on hair shafts. The eggs are called nits. Unlike dandruff, the nits cannot be shaken off. The spread of pediculosis can be reduced by not sharing clothing, combs, and brushes with others. If you discover lice in your hair, you can comb away the nits with a fine-toothed comb wet with vinegar. Then wash your hair with a special medicated shampoo.

BURNS

Burns are cause by being in contact with hot object, hot liquids or vapors, or with electricity or chemicals. Burns destroy the skin and affect the body’s ability to fight infection. Burns also upset blood circulation. Burns are divided into First-degree, second-degree and third-degree burns depending on the damage they cause. First-degree burns are burns that injure only the epidermis and heal without leaving scars. These might be caused by mild sunburn. Second-degree burns are burns that injure the epidermis and part of the dermis and may leave some scarring. Swelling and blistering are involved. Second-degree burns may be caused by such things as hot liquid, steam, or extreme sunburns. Third-degree burns are burns that go through all layers of the skin and affect the tissue underneath. The skin may look white, very red, or even black. Most third-degree burns do not heal themselves. The damaged skin usually has to be removed and new skin grafted on.

SKIN CANCER

There are several different types of skin cancer. Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells that invade and destroy neighboring healthy tissue. Some skin cancers are small pink growths that increase in size, damaging surrounding tissues, but do not spread to other parts of the body. Other cancers begin as a lump that turns into an ulcer and may spread to other parts of the body. One common type of skin cancer is called melanoma. Melanomas are enlarged moles that bleed. They may flat or raised and vary in size. This type of skin cancer usually spreads through the body.

Skin cancer can be cured if it is identified and treated early. It can also be avoided by not getting too much sun. Skin cancer is a long-term danger of being exposed to ultraviolet rays. The risk of developing skin cancer increases with age and the number of years of exposure.

PROTECTION FROM HARMFUL SUN RAYS

Brief exposure to sunlight stimulates your skin to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for the healthy formation of bones and teeth. However, overexposure to the ultraviolet rays from the sun can damaged your skin. Sunlamps at home and in tanning studios give off harmful ultraviolet rays just as the sun does. Good hygiene includes knowing how much sun you can get without harming your skin.(Kmart coupons are always available for sunscreens.)

There are different preparations that protect your skin from sunlight, depending on your skin. These preparations are graded by number. The higher the number, the greater the degree of protection. People with fair skin are wise to select a sunscreen with a value over 10. Darker-skin individuals may be safe with a somewhat lower grade. When applying sunscreen, be careful to apply enough lotion to the nose, lips, shoulders, and knees, which burn more readily than other parts of the body.

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