SO­LU­TIONS FOR SKIN WOES

Got a spot, di­coloured patch, or strange look­ing growth on your face or body? Here’s a guide to help you ID the prob­lem and tackle it.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

ACNE

What it looks like: Pim­ples, spots, or zits that mul­ti­ply and re­sult in in­flam­ma­tion, red­ness. Can leave be­hind last­ing scars or even cause hy­per­pig­men­ta­tion. Trig­gered by: Hor­monal ac­tiv­ity (men­strual or pu­berty), genes, hy­per­ac­tive se­ba­ceous glands, pres­ence of bac­te­ria in the pores, ac­cu­mu­la­tion of dead skin cells, and stress. Feels itchy, some­times painful and em­bar­rass­ing. Where? The face and neck, but the chest, back and shoul­ders may also be af­fected. Con­ta­gious? No What to do: OTC bac­te­ri­ci­dal prod­ucts con­tain­ing ben­zyl per­ox­ide may be used in mild to mod­er­ate acne. Tri­closan or chlorhex­i­dine glu­conate with suit­able non-come­do­genic mois­tur­iz­ers are con­sid­ered to be ef­fec­tive as well. See a doc­tor if the above meth­ods don’t help. Your derm may pre­scribe more pow­er­ful reme­dies that may in­clude oral drugs, laser ther­apy.

LICHEN SIM­PLEX CHRONICUS

What it looks like: Red and ir­ri­tated, even­tu­ally tak­ing on a brown, leath­ery ap­pear­ance af­ter too much scratch­ing. Trig­gered by: Fric­tion, say to metal fas­ten­ers, which ir­ri­tates the skin. The more you scratch it, the more it itches. Feels Itchy Where? An­kles, wrists, neck, rec­tum, arms, legs, back of the knee, in­ner el­bow. Con­ta­gious? No What to do: Stop scratch­ing! You may need an anti-itch­ing cream, such as hy­dro­cor­ti­sone, as well as oral an­ti­his­tamines, anti in­flam­ma­to­ries or even tran­quil­iz­ers pre­scribed by your doc­tor. Sal­i­cylic acid med­i­ca­tions may be used on thick­ened le­sions. See a doc­tor if the itch­ing wors­ens, or your skin starts to get in­fected and you ex­pe­ri­ence pain, or fluid leaks from the le­sion.

RING­WORM

What it looks like: Red, scaly patches with dis­tinct edges that re­sem­bles like a ring. Some­times the patches forms blis­ters and ooze. Caused by: Not a worm, de­spite the name. The cul­prit is a te­na­cious lit­tle fun­gus called tinea that thrives in warm, moist ar­eas. Feels very itchy. Where? Any­where, but of­ten in warm, cozy ar­eas like skin folds or on the scalp. Con­ta­gious? Yes! It’s spread through di­rect skin-to-skin con­tact or with per­sonal items such as tow­els, and on locker room and pool sur­faces. You can also catch it from pets. What to do: Try OTC an­ti­fun­gal creams that con­tain mi­cona­zole or clotri­ma­zole. Con­tinue to use them for one to two weeks af­ter the rash has cleared to pre­vent re-in­fec­tion, and wash sheets ev­ery day. See a doc­tor if the in­fec­tion won’t clear up. He may give you a pre­scrip­tion top­i­cal lo­tion or an­ti­fun­gal pills.

PSO­RI­A­SIS

What it looks like: Thick, red patches of skin cov­ered by flaky, white scales (this de­scribes the most com­mon kind, plaque pso­ri­a­sis). Other types are gut­tate (small, red spots), pus­tu­lar (white pus­tules sur­rounded by red skin), in­verse (le­sions in skin folds), and ery­thro­der­mic (wide­spread red­ness, itch­ing, and pain). Trig­gered by: An im­mune sys­tem dys­func­tion that causes over­pro­duc­tion of skin cells. Though a chronic con­di­tion, pso­ri­a­sis can be trig­gered by dry skin; mi­nor skin in­juries; stress; sun­burn or UV de­pri­va­tion; and some in­fec­tions, like strep throat. Feels painful some­times and very em­bar­rass­ing. Where? Scalp, el­bows, knees, or torso, but can ap­pear any­where. Con­ta­gious? No. What to do: Keep skin lubri­cated. Depend­ing on sever­ity and lo­ca­tion, treat­ment may in­clude OTC cor­ti­sone creams, coal tar oint­ments, sal­i­cylic acid prod­ucts, or anti dan­druff sham­poos. Ex­po­sure to sun­light can help clear skin (but avoid burning). See a doc­tor if your skin doesn’t clear with OTC treat­ment. You may need pre­scrip­tion strength top­i­cal steroids, photo ther­apy (light ther­apy), sys­temic med­i­ca­tions, or newer drugs called bi­o­log­ics, which tar­get the body’s im­mune re­sponse.

ECZEMA

What it looks like: Any­thing from scaly, dry patches to blis­ters and dry, leath­ery ar­eas. Trig­gered by: There is no proven cause, but stud­ies have found that peo­ple are ge­net­i­cally sus­cep­ti­ble to it, and trig­gers can in­clude cer­tain fab­rics, warm cloth­ing, de­odor­ant, soaps, ex­ces­sive bathing or per­spi­ra­tion, and stress. Feels in­tensely itchy. Where? Of­ten on the in­side of knees and el­bows, DAN­DRUFF What it looks like: Snowflakes on your shoul­ders or an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of white/yel­low­ish scales on the scalp. This is fol­lowed by red­ness and ir­ri­ta­tion. Trig­gered by: Oily skin and be­cause of a yeast called ma­lessezia. Feels itchy (and em­bar­rass­ing). Where? Usu­ally the scalp but some­times on eye­brows, eye­lids, be­hind the ears, or in skin folds. Con­ta­gious? No. What to do: OTC med­i­cated dan­druff sham­poos with ac­tive in­gre­di­ents such as sal­i­cylic acid, coal tar, zinc, ke­to­cona­zole, or se­le­nium. Sham­poo daily, us­ing fin­ger­tips to mas­sage scalp and loosen scales. See a doc­tor if the con­di­tion doesn’t re­spond to OTC salves. He may pre­scribe stronger sham­poos and med­i­cated lo­tions con­tain­ing se­le­nium, ke­to­cona­zole, or cor­ti­cos­teroids.

face, and neck, but can crop up any­where. Con­ta­gious? No What to do: Keep skin moist. Take brief showers with warm (not hot) wa­ter. Ap­ply mois­tur­izer im­me­di­ately af­ter bathing when skin is still damp. OTC anti-itch lo­tions and top­i­cal cor­ti­cos­teroids can soothe skin. See a doc­tor if it doesn’t clear up af­ter vig­i­lant mois­tur­iz­ing ef­forts, or skin is cracked and painful.

DRY SKIN

What it looks like: Red, chapped, scaly, or cracked. Trig­gered by: Dry win­ter air, harsh soaps, chem­i­cals. Feels dry and itchy. Where? Mostly lower legs and arms, but pos­si­ble any­where. Con­ta­gious? No What to do: Wear gloves out­side. Keep showers brief and use warm (not hot) wa­ter. Try a mild soap and don’t rub the soap in the dri­est ar­eas. Ap­ply mois­tur­izer im­me­di­ately af­ter bathing while skin is still damp. See a doc­tor if the itch­ing pre­vents you from sleep­ing or you sus­pect it is some­thing other than dry skin.

ATH­LETE’S FOOT

What it looks like: Cracked, flaky red skin, some­times with blis­ters. Caused by: A fun­gus called tinea pedis that thrives in hu­mid ar­eas. Feels burning and sting­ing. Where? Be­tween the toes, any­where on the foot or hands. Con­ta­gious? Yes, it can be passed through di­rect per­sonal con­tact, in showers and pools, or by con­tact with some­one else’s shoes and socks. What to do: Over-the-counter an­ti­fun­gal pow­ders or creams that con­tain mi­coza­zole, clotri­ma­zole, or tol­naf­tate. Con­tinue to use them for one to two weeks af­ter ath­lete’s foot has cleared to pre­vent re-in­fec­tion. See a doc­tor if the rash doesn’t clear af­ter two to four weeks of us­ing OTC prod­ucts. Your physi­cian can pre­scribe stronger, pre­scrip­tion an­ti­fun­gals.

AB­SCESS

What it looks like: Red­dish pus­tule, hard or ten­der lump. Caused by: Usu­ally bac­te­ria or par­a­sites or other for­eign ma­te­ri­als – for e.g., splin­ters or in­ject­ing nee­dles. Feels ex­tremely painful at the site of the swelling. Where? on skin sur­face (some times in the lungs, brain, mouth, kid­neys and ton­sils) Con­ta­gious? The pus com­ing out of the ab­scess con­tains bac­te­ria which can trans­mit in­fec­tion on con­tact. So cover it up. What to do: Wound ab­scesses gen­er­ally do not need to be treated with an­tibi­otics, but they will re­quire sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tion and curet­tage. See a doc­tor if the ab­scess has not im­proved even af­ter 5 to 7 days, or the lump gets big­ger and more painful or if you see red streaks spread­ing out from the lump.

JOCK ITCH

What it looks like: Red patches with sharply de­fined edges that forms blis­ter and ooze. Caused by: the tinea cruris fun­gus. Feels itchy. Where? In the groin, anus, or the creases of the up­per thighs. Con­ta­gious? Yes, you can get it through skin-to-skin con­tact or con­tact with un­washed cloth­ing. What to do: Keep area clean and dry, wear loose-fit­ting clothes that won’t ir­ri­tate the af­fected area, and ap­ply an OTC an­ti­fun­gal that con­tains mi­cona­zole, clotri­ma­zole, or tol­naf­tate. See a doc­tor if it lingers for more than two weeks. He will pre­scribe stronger med­i­ca­tions, in­clud­ing oral anti fun­gals.

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