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Common Skin Conditions & How To Treat Them

A patch of dry skin or pimple or two might seem like nothing new but for some folks, it's their life story. Uncomfortable, itchy, dry skin are just a few of the more obvious symptoms of common skin conditions, but what about the affect they can have on your self esteem? People who suffer from skin disorders can tell you, they spend their whole lives shying away, covering up, or trying to distract attention from their conditions.

Though many common skin conditions are uncurable, there are ways to treat the symptoms, and minimize their appearance. Below, we look at four common skin conditions and how we can help soothe the skin you're in.

Acne
It's widely believed that this condition only affects kids going through puberty but the sad truth is that people of all ages are susceptible to this condition, and often not just on the face, but the neck, shoulders, chest and back as well.

Acne is a result of unregulated sebaceous (oil producing) glands that have become clogged. Eighty percent of North American's will have acne at some point in their lives, and 60 percent will continue to struggle with it into adulthood.

While obvious factors like diet and heredity play a role in whether you will have acne, other factors, including medications, incorrect use of skin care products, cosmetics, stress, bacteria, and a change in hormones (as with pregnancy and menopause) have also been attributed to causing acne.

The most important factors in battling acne are cleanliness and using the right product. Use a mild wash or acne cleanser daily, but be careful not to wash too often or you risk drying out your skin and irritating existing pimples and causing them to become more infected.

Exfoliate regularly (once or twice a week) to remove the layer of dead skin cells that can clog pores. Use a gentle, water-based (oil free!) moisturizer for hydration, and look for skincare products that read “noncomedogenic”, meaning they won't clog your pores.

Eczema
Though we've all met or know someone who has eczema, what most people don't realize is that the term Eczema actually refers to a group of inflammatory medical conditions characterized by dry skin, with patches that are red and intensely itchy. There are tree main types of eczema:

  • Atopic dermatitis – The most common of the three, atopic dermatitis is mostly seen in children. This long-term genetic disease causes itchy rashes in the bend of the elbow and behind the knees.
  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis – A form of eczema beings to show in adulthood, allergic contact dermatitis is caused by environmental factors, such as cosmetic agents, fragrances, and the metals in jewellery.
  • Nummular dermatitis – Nummular causes red and flaky coin-shaped patches of skin, and is due to dry skin. It can be very itchy.

Though the condition itself is incurable, there are things you can do to help alleviate the discomfort and treat the symptoms.

  • Topical or systemic corticosteroids – a type of anti-inflammatory medication that should relieve the main symptoms of eczema, including skin inflammation and itchiness.
  • Antibiotics
  • Medications to treat fungal and viral infections
  • Antihistamines
  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors – a type of drug that suppresses the activities of the immune system and decreases inflammation and helps prevent flare ups
  • Barrier repair moisturizers reduce water loss and work to repair the skin
  • Phototherapy

Melasma
Often seen in women during pregnancy as a result of fluctuating hormones, Melasma is a common skin condition that presents as brown patches on the face, usually on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, the forehead and upper lips. People with a family history of melasma are more likely to develop the condition themselves, though, as mentioned above, a change in hormonal status can also trigger it.

The most common melasma therapies include the use of 2% hydroquinone (HQ) creams, though melasma cay clear spontaneously without treatment. In some cases, it may clear with sunscreen usage and sun avoidance. And for some, the discolouration may disappear following pregnancy or if birth control pills or hormone therapy are discontinued.

Melasma can also be treated with medical grade depigmentation peels, which treat pigmentation issues or skin discolourations caused by many factors, including sun exposure, photo-damage, ageing, hormonal fluctuations, and trauma to the skin caused by acne. This treatment works by blocking the formation of melanin (pigment), inhibiting the production of tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for formation of pigment in the skin.

Rosacea
Are you blushing or is that Rosacea? Over 2 million Canadian women suffer from rosacea, a common, chronic and progressive skin disorder that has no cure. It usually emerges in your 40s, when the tiny capillaries in the face become dilated, and in some cases leak small amounts of blood. Most experts believe that rosacea is a fundamentally vascular problem and is the cause of blushing.

There are various known triggers for rosaeca, including a hot shower, spicy food, exercise, excitement, stress, hot, cold, or wind. If left untreated, rosacea can cause permanent disfigurement to your face, and in some instances impair vision, or worse, lead to blindness. The good news is that rosacea can be effectively treated and controlled.

Topical treatments represent the first line of defense for patients with rosacea, though physicians will also seek oral antibiotics if satisfactory results are not achieved with creams. There has also been some success with light therapy, which is used to treat the visible blood vessels that are present in patients with rosacea.

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