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What are the Different Skin Diseases?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Skin diseases usually leave some type of sore or irritation seen as redness on the skin's surface. Rashes are clusters or groups of reddened areas on the skin. Dermatitis is the general term for skin rashes. There are many different types of skin diseases, but some of the more common kinds are psoriasis, eczema, herpes simplex, lupus, acne, rosacea and skin cancer.

There are two main types of skin cancer: non-melanoma and melanoma. Melanoma is the more deadly, while non-melanoma is the more common. Actually, non-melanoma is one of the most common kinds of cancer. Skin cancer is thought to be caused mainly by sun exposure and sunburns. Although skin cancer can affect anyone, people with fair skin and light-colored eyes are the most susceptible to it.

Rosacea is one of the skin diseases than may be difficult to diagnose. Since it may include pimples, rosacea is sometimes misdiagnosed as acne. It may also be confused with a sunburn since it usually first appears as a redness on the face. Rosacea occurs when blood vessels in the face become enlarged.

Acne is a very common skin disorder that especially affects teens and young adults because of increased hormone levels that create overactive oil glands. The excess oil clogs skin and bacteria irritate the skin's pores creating red lumps. Another disease that affects the skin, lupus, may worsen during exposure to the sun as lesions or sores often occur in sunlight. Lupus causes swelling and pain in the joints as well as organ damage and skin rashes.

Herpes simplex is one of the skin diseases caused by viruses and it is contagious. It looks like very small blisters clustered together. Herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) usually appears as cold sores around the mouth, while herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) is often the type found on the genitals.

Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis and it often begins in early childhood. Babies may get the dry, red patches of eczema on their face, arms or neck. Eczema is one of the skin diseases thought to be caused by having a genetic predisposition to it. Extreme itchiness is usually present with eczema and blistering may occur. Flare ups of eczema can be provoked by scratching or after sun exposure.

Like lupus, psoriasis often causes joint pain and swelling. Psoriasis is dry, red and scaly and often appears on the scalp as well as the lower body. Psoriasis is an immune system disorder caused by the body producing too many skin cells. Like eczema, genes for psoriasis can be passed on in families.

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Discussion Comments

By pleonasm — On Jun 01, 2012

@croydon - Unfortunately rosacea is one of those various skin diseases that are really difficult to get rid of, or even to reduce.

I had a friend once who had such terrible eczema on his elbows and knees it looked like he was wearing those guards that skateboarders wear. He'd been to doctor after doctor and none of them seemed to be able to give him a cure. In the end he realized he was just going to have to live with it and hope it didn't get any worse.

I've also had friends who just develop a mysterious rash that the doctors can't even identify. It might drive them crazy for a few weeks and then vanish. My mother has a rash on her leg that flares up whenever she gets stressed out, and she's never been able to totally get rid of it.

The skin is still pretty mysterious it seems and we all just have to do the best we can with what we know about it.

By croydon — On May 31, 2012

@KoiwiGal - Well, the definition of disease isn't something that's contagious or progressive, but is just a disorder of the body. So, cancer is considered a disease, even though it's not contagious and it's not always progressive. And acne and acne rosacea can be considered skin diseases, or symptoms of some other kind of disease.

It is a good idea to stay off medication if the side effects bother you, but there are other ways to cope with acne. I find that doing some kind of exercise that makes me sweat tends to help a lot, as does washing the skin with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid. Mud masks help too, since they draw the impurities out of the skin as they dry.

As for the rosacea, well, there's no real cure for that yet. It's caused by different bacteria to the acne so don't assume that acne medication was also supposed to take care of the rosacea. There are some medicines that should reduce it, but you'd need to speak to a dermatologist.

By KoiwiGal — On May 30, 2012

I've never really thought of acne and rosacea as being skin diseases, more like disorders. I mean, they are very embarrassing and painful, but they aren't really contagious or life threatening and they don't get worse and worse as time goes on (in most cases at least).

I suffer from both and they are particularly annoying because they are the result of a hormonal disorder, but everyone assumes that I'm just really bad at cleaning my skin. Believe me, I clean it every day and every night and it makes no difference. Medication can make a difference, but a lot of the medicines they give you to get rid of acne have awful side effects, so I'd rather not use them unless I have to.

Hopefully one day I'll grow out of them, but until then, I've just got to grin and bear it.

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