There are a variety of skin problems, and just about everyone has experienced one or more of them. Your skin may change color in patches, break out in a rash, acne or itch, but most of these share a common key feature, which is that they are embarrassing and difficult to treat.
Taking care of your skin takes discipline, no matter what type of skin you have. Add to it flare-ups and signs and symptoms of scaly, rough, patches with discolorations, and you have a very frustrating situation! There are some common skin conditions that are more prevalent than others. This article describes the top six sensitive skin problems and easy solutions for you to try.
Rosacea is typically associated with a red face. There are actually four different sub types of rosacea, as described below. Rosacea can cause anxiety, depression and low self-esteem because of the way it makes your skin appear. If not treated, it tends to get worse. There is no total cure, but the signs and symptoms can be reduced and flare-ups diminished or even prevented.
Triggers for rosacea can include hot foods, spicy foods, alcohol, sunlight, stress, anger, embarrassment, hot baths or saunas and drugs that dilate blood vessels, such as blood pressure medications.
Facial redness, visible blood vessels is the first sub type. It starts with flushing in the center of your face, spider veins may be visible, skin appears swollen and is sensitive with burning and stinging. Dry rough or scaling skin may also be seen.
Acne-like breakouts may show up along with very red skin. The breakouts can come and go along with oily, sensitive skin that burns and stings. This second sub type has broken blood vessels that may be visible with red raised patches on the skin.
Thickening skin, although rare, is another sub type of rosacea. It mostly involves the nose, but may also affect your chin, forehead, cheeks and ears. Also common with this type re the spider veins, large pores and oily skin.
Rosacea in the eyes makes the eyes appear bloodshot, feel gritty along with burning or stinging. Your eyes may itch, have blurry vision and get eyelid cysts.
Depending on the signs and symptoms of rosacea, different treatment may be needed. For example, your dermatologist may prescribe antibiotics for severe acne-like rosacea lesions. To prevent flare-ups, use sensitive skin sunscreen of SPF 15 or above, an emollient to help repair the skin, and a gentle exfoliating scrub to help remove dead cells that allow healthy cells to surface.
For home remedies, avoid any irritating facial cleansers, but always choose gentle skin care products that are free of alcohol and other harsh ingredients. Use a sensitive skin, non-comedogenic concealer to cover up and conceal breakouts. Pay attention to the triggers that cause flare-ups and monitor and then manage those particular triggers to help prevent symptoms and the resulting skin conditions.
Plain and simple, eczema (dermatitis) represents irritated skin, mostly resulting in itching and redness. Eczema is long lasting and flares up periodically based on certain triggers and situations. It affects all ages and may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.
Cause of eczema is unknown, but can include:
- Heredity with a gene that weakens the skin's barrier to be effective.
- Pet dander and saliva as they lick you.
- Antimicrobial soaps and other skin care products with harsh or irritating ingredients.
- Dust, seasonal pollens, molds.
- Disinfectants like chlorine.
- Viruses, fungi or certain bacteria.
- Hot weather, humidity (high or low), perspiration.
- Certain foods, such as dairy, eggs, nuts, soy products, wheat.
- Hormone fluctuations can bring about flare-ups.
According to the National Eczema Association, the first step to prevent eczema is to take good care of your skin. These steps include:
- Wash with warm, not hot, water on a regular basis.
- Use a gentle sulfate free cleanser.
- Every day use a non-comedogenic moisturizer. Apply moisturizer within 3 minutes of washing.
- Avoid rough or tight fitting clothing.
- Prevent rapid changes of temperature activities that make you sweat.
- Don't scratch your skin when it itches.
- If you have allergies, treat your pets for dander and remove carpets from your rooms.
- Use a gentle sulfate free cleanser.
- Every day use a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
Hives (urticaria) show up as white itchy welts of varying sizes. The symptoms can come and fade away or be chronic (long lasting), in which the welts last for six weeks and recur over months or even years. The non-chronic hives (acute hives), can last less than 6 weeks.
We don't know the cause of chronic hives (also called chronic urticaria), but it's suspected an underlying health problem may be one cause, such as thyroid disease or lupus. Acute hives may be the result of an allergy. Hives can appear on any part of your skin and be very small in size or appear as huge welts.
Although doctors don't the the cause, it has been established that certain triggers can bring on the hives skin reaction:
- Certain pain medications, such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) medications, such as ibuprofen. High blood pressure drugs called ACE inhibitors or painkillers such as codiene, may also cause hives.
- Sunlight, called solar urticaria may be due to your "photosensitivity" or having an allergy to sunlight. The rash will occur where your skin was exposed to sunlight. If unexposed skin reacts with similar hives, it may be due to "heat hives".
- Alcohol, food such as citrus, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish may cause hives.
- Stress can cause a type of hives called "physical urticaria". Stress can cause your heart to beat faster, make you sweat, among other things, and cause the hives you get, even worse.
- Insect bites and stings, pollen.
- Irritating chemicals can cause your body to respond by releasing histamine that cause itching and inflammation. These irritants can be found in foods, medications, cosmetics, hair and skin care products. Foods that may bring about hives include eggs, milk, nuts, shellfish, berries, chocolate and tomatoes.
The best treatment for hives is preventing the triggers. It's important to first find the cause that bring about your hives. Hives symptoms such as itching, can be managed with antihistamines. For chronic hives, a short-term prescription of cortisones, antibacterial, or anti-inflammatory to fight redness and swelling, may be recommended. If the underlying cause of your chronic hives is a problem with thyroid, then this would be best treated by addressing the thyroid problem. For lifestyle ways to manage hive symptoms and to prevent symptoms, it's important to find out the triggers that bring about the symptoms. The following are recommended to help soothe and prevent recurring skin flare-ups:
- Wear loose clothing
- Never scratch
- Avoid harsh, irritating soaps, cleansers or skin care products. Always choose skin care and personal care products for sensitive skin.
SCARS & BROWN SPOTS
Scars can occur from a childhood accident that has remained for years, a skin condition such as acne or following surgery. Scars appear due to the resulting skin's collagen and elastin being damaged, whatever the initial cause.
Age or sun spots are brown and also called liver spots or solar lentigines. These are not dangerous and mostly show up after the age of 50. They're most visible on lighter skin and exposure to a lot of sun or tanning salons can increase them. They appear in a variety of sizes mostly on your face and hands. Melanin, a pigment in your skin, clumps together and produces the brown spots.
Solutions for Scars & Spots
There are a few options for improving the appearance of scars, no matter the cause. Over-the-counter bleaching agents, collagen injections, laser treatments, dermabrasion, chemical peels and minor surgical procedures can help diminish the scar appearance. Makeup, such as liquid or stick concealers and foundations are a less invasive and quicker way to reduce the appearance of scars.
Home remedies such as applying lemon juice to the spots have been reported to help reduce the spots. The acid in lemon juice is believed to break down melanin brown color and after one to two months of application, the spots are diminished. You apply the lemon slice to the brown spots and leave it on for about 30 minutes and rinse off.
Another home remedy is to mash up some pineapple and apply to your skin and allow to dry. Rinse with lukewarm water. Yogurt applied to the spots and allowed to dry and rinsed off, has also been recommended.
If you notice the brown spots growing or changing shape or color, with an uneven edge, seek a doctor to check for cancer. Although brown spots are harmless, skin cancer is not. It's important to distinguish between the two.
With psoriasis, your skin cells go on fast forward and rapidly grow. Instead of weeks, new cells form within days, causing an accumulation of skin cells that form thick, dry patches. The cause is not fully understood, but it's thought to be related to your immune system, specifically the white cells called T lymphocyte or T cells. The T cells function is to find and destroy harmful substances, such as bacteria. With psoriasis, the T cells by mistake attack healthy skin cells. A domino affect results with responses of dialated blood vessels in the skin and increased production of both healthy skin cells and other white blood cells. As the build-up of skin cells slough off from the surface, the thick scaly patches on the skin are what appear.
There are several types of psoriasis:
- Plaque types are the most common and appear as reddish, raised patches with a silvery white crusty coating, called 'scales'. These can appear anywhere on the skin, but mostly on the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp. They may also form on the genitals and inside your mouth's soft tissues. They may itch and be painful. Scratching them can cause the plaques to become thickened.
- Nail psoriasis affect your toenails and fingernails. The nail growth appears pitted and with an abnormal discoloration. The nail may crumble with progression into advanced stages.
- Scalp psoriasis forms red, itchy silvery white scales on your scalp. The scales often extend beyond the hairline and with scratching you may notice flakes on your shoulder.
- Guttate psoriasis is set off by bacterial infections such as strep throat. It mostly affects young adults and children. This type may only show up once, or you may have multiple repeated episodes. The small sores appear on the trunk, arms, legs and scalp.
- Inverse psoriasis is mostly brought about by fungal infections. It affects in the armpits, groin, under the breasts and around the genitals. The scales appear as smooth red, inflamed patches.
- Pustular psoriasis can appear all over with patches or locally in smaller areas such as your hands, feet or fingernails. Pus-filled blisters become red and tender. This type of psoriasis may also cause fever, chills, diarrhea and itching.
Psoriasis solutions include topical treatments, light therapy, oral or injected medications, and alternative therapies.
- Topical treatments include corticosteroids for treatment of mild to moderate psoriasis. Synthetic forms of Vitamin D may be recommended through a prescription cream or liquid form, both of which may be irritating. Anthralin can help remove scales and make your skin smooth. However, anthralin is also irritating, and stains anything it comes in contact with. Retinoids may also help as a topical treatment to normalize DNA in skin cells and decrease inflammation. Retinoids are reported to be irritating, and cause sunlight sensitivity. Salicylic acid is an over-the-counter or by prescription topical cream used to help reduce scales from forming. Coal tar is an old remedy that has fewer side effects, is messy and can stain clothing, along with a strong unpleasant odor.
- Light therapy (phototherapy) can include sunlight and artificial UVB light to help the psoriasis symptoms.
- Oral or injected medications include retinoids, and drugs such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, and others that affect your immune system directly.
- Lifestyle and home remedies play an important role towards preventing symptoms of psoriasis. Taking daily baths with oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts to soak in, can help to calm inflamed skin and remove scales. Only use lukewarm water, never hot. Totally avoid harsh and irritating soaps and skin care or hair care products. Use a non-irritating, non-comedogenic moisturizer. Sun light is beneficial, but only in small doses and along with a broad-spectrum non-toxic sunscreen that uses zinc oxide for the sun block ingredient.
Certain factors act as triggers for onset of psoriasis. This include infections, stress, smoking, high exposure to sun, and alcohol consumption. Determine which trigger brings about your psoriasis or worsens the symptoms, and try to avoid them. Aloe vera may help reduce the inflammation that causes redness, scaling and itching. Fish oil up to 3 grams a day may also help the symptoms.