This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078
The skin is the body’s largest organ, so when something goes wrong it can significantly impact your life. Whether it’s a new rash, mark, or bump, you’ll want to make sure you are seeking the right treatment. In our article below we’ll look at some of the most common skin conditions. If you are worried about anything new that has appeared on your skin, you should see your GP as soon as possible.
Atopic Eczema, also called Atopic Dermatitis, is the most common form of eczema. It makes your skin itchy, red, dry, and cracked.
It can affect any part of the body but most commonly appears on the back or fronts of the knees, inside or outside of elbows, or around the neck, hands, cheeks, or scalp.
Common treatments include moisturisers and steroid creams to apply to affected skin. These can help to relieve symptoms. Eczema is a long-term condition for most people who suffer from it. However, it can improve over time. This is especially true in children who have eczema, as they will often grow out of it.
Cold sores are small blisters that develop around the lips or mouth. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, the same virus that causes genital herpes.
First, you may notice a tingling, itching, or burning sensation around your mouth. Small, fluid-filled sores will then appear, usually on the edges of your lower lip.
Cold sores usually clear up without treatment within 7 to 10 days, but during this time they are highly contagious. You should avoid sharing anything that comes into contact with your cold sore (like treatment creams, cutlery, lipstick, cigarettes, etc.), kissing, and oral sex until your cold sore has completely healed and disappeared.
To help to ease your symptoms and speed up healing time, antiviral creams are available.
Urticaria, also called hives, is a raised, itchy rash. It is sometimes also known as weals, welts, or nettle rash. It may only appear on one part of the body, or across a large area.
In many cases the rash will get better on it own in a few days. However, if the itchiness is uncomfortable, antihistamines can help to relieve symptoms.
Impetigo is a highly contagious skin condition that causes sores and blisters on the skin. There are 2 types of impetigo, non-bullous and bullous. Non-bullous impetigo typically affects the nose and mouth whereas bullous impetigo typically affects the torso.
This infection is more common in children, but it can affect anyone.
Impetigo is likely to clear up by itself within 3 weeks, but you should see your GP for a proper diagnosis. Symptoms of impetigo are similar to other, more serious conditions so these need to be ruled out. Your GP can also prescribe antibiotic cream or tablets to speed up healing time.
Psoriasis typically causes flaky red patches of skin covered in ‘silver’ scales. These scales look like dry skin. The patches typically appear on the elbows, knees, and the lower back. They may be itchy or sore.
For some people, psoriasis is just a minor irritation. However, for others it can have a major impact on their quality of life. People with psoriasis will usually have periods when they have mild or even no symptoms, followed by periods of more severe flare ups.
Most people will be successfully treated by their GP, but if your psoriasis is more severe you may be referred to a skin specialist called a dermatologist.
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, symptoms can be managed with creams and ointments, treatment with light (phototherapy), and medicines taken by mouth or injection.
Despite its name, ringworm is not caused by a worm but rather a fungal infection. It typically appears on the arms and legs, although it can appear almost anywhere on the body. Anyone can get ringworm, but it is more common in children.
Ringworm causes a red or silvery scaly rash in the shape of a ring.
You can treat ringworm over the counter with antifungal creams, powders or tablets. You may need to see your GP if you’re not sure it’s ringworm. You should also go to your GP if the symptoms have not cleared up after 2 weeks of treatment.
Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin.
Scabies causes intense itching that gets worse at night, and a rash of tiny red spots.
If you think you have scabies, you should see your GP as soon as possible It’s not usually a serious condition, but treatment is needed to kill the scabies mites. This treatment will usually be a cream or lotion.
Vitiligo causes pale white patches on the skin. These can very in size and shape and can appear anywhere on the body. They’re more noticeable on areas that are exposed to sunlight like the face and hands. They also are more noticeable on tanned or dark skin. Vitiligo patches on the scalp can also cause the hair to turn white.
Vitiligo is a long-term condition, but it isn’t contagious. You should see your GP if you suspect you have vitiligo.
Treatments aim to minimise the appearance of pale white patches. These treatments can include steroid creams and treatment with light (phototherapy). You may also choose to use makeup or coloured creams to disguise patches.
Warts and verrucas
Warts are small lumps that can appear anywhere, but typically affect the hands and feet. A wart on the foot is called a verruca.
Most warts are harmless and may clear up without treatment. If you do decide to treat your wart, because it’s painful or causing discomfort or embarrassment, treatments include salicylic acid, freezing the wart, duct tape, or chemical treatments. These treatments remove the wart.
An annoying itch can have a significant impact on your life. Itching can affect any area of the body and, while mild, short lived itching is common, it can be frustrating to live with. You may also experience severe itching.
Things that can help to relieve itching include:
- Patting or tapping it itch, rather than scratching it
- Cooling the area with a cold compress, such as a damp flannel
- Bathing or showering in cool or lukewarm water
- Avoiding perfumed personal hygiene products like lotions
- Avoiding clothes that irritate your skin like wool
- Using a moisturiser or emollient if your skin is dry or flaky
Some itching can be relieved by using antihistamine or steroid cream.