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07-27-2012, 09:41 AM
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People commonly say, "You have to be comfortable in your own skin." That is easier said than done when a disease affects that skin. Conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis are fairly common but are difficult to hide.
For years, while applying various creams and light treatments behind closed doors, many suffering from skin diseases simply hid from the public eye by adopting reclusive-like lifestyles. And when exiting the safety of the home, tank tops and shorts were simply not options; the plan was to cover up, move quickly, and avoid close contact with others to escape the inevitable question, "What happened to your skin?"
As technology and medical research modernize, doctors are being armed with more options to treat common skin conditions. Laser treatments work in many cases, and the popularity of this type of remedy has made it more often covered by insurance companies and the overall price of treatments continually decrease. In addition, drugs and vaccines have been developed and made great impacts on some of the most severe diseases.
Eczema is one of the most common skin afflictions for people of all ages. Basically, it is the inflammation of the upper layers of the skin and is characterized by dry skin and itchiness, recurring rashes, redness, swelling, and even skin flaking or blistering causing bleeding. Skin discoloration and some scarring can occur as a result.
There are numerous treatments for various types and severities of eczema, but a patch test is the best way to come to a diagnosis and begin treatment. Using a thick moisturizing cream is the first step, a hydrocortisone cream if the condition worsens, and prescription creams if all else fails. There are two new prescriptions on the market - Elidel and Protonic - that are appropriate if the eczema areas are restricted to small areas. These immuno-modulators can be used on the face, which is one of the advantages to these medications. These prescriptions can be used in place of older ones that contained various levels of steroids and could cause thinning of the skin and have other side effects.
It has also been discovered that eczema, in some cases, is the result of a simply allergy to products like rubber, cosmetics, or metals. A simple patch test administered by a dermatologist can determine this. In addition, if allergies are ruled out by the test, sometimes a change in living condition can solve the problem. For example, using a humidifier, changing the temperature of shower or bath water, or reducing the temperature of one's home might provide a solution or lessen the severity of the symptoms.
One of the forms of eczema is a chronic disorder called seborrheic dermatitis. It usually occurs on the face, scalp, and in the ears, and the rash is unique because it causes yellowish and greasy scales to develop. Most cases are found in older patients and those with neurological disorders.
Some scalp-related cases can be remedied simply by using a dandruff shampoo, and an over-the-counter cream called P&S Liquid has been shown to be effective as well. For other affected areas, hydrocortisone or the aforementioned Elidel and Protopic prescription medications can ease the symptoms and potentially heal the condition altogether.
Rosacea is another very common type of skin disease that typically appears on the face in the form of spider veins and extreme redness, though some cases can progress to small pus-filled bumps that are very similar to acne. Dermatologists have identified several causes, such as the sun, spicy foods, alcohol, and exercise, though many cases are brought on by the use of steroids, acne medication, or high blood pressure.
There are prescriptions that treat many cases of rosacea - topical antibiotics such as MetroGel and Noritate - and a medication currently only approved for acne called Aczone is being researched and may be available soon. More severe cases require topical solutions as well as antibiotics, and there is a prescription pill called Oracea that can reduce inflammation. Laser treatments are also being used on numerous patients to shut down injured blood vessels and get rid of the redness, though the process takes numerous treatments over the course of four to six weeks and is not covered by all insurance companies.
Psoriasis is another disease that affects the skin, but this can also affect the joints. Red scaly patches that appear are usually inflamed and cause excessive skin production that turns silver or white, and they can occur on elbows, knees, scalp, fingernails and toenails, and genitals. It is believed that psoriasis has a genetic component, but many things can aggravate the condition, like stress, alcohol consumption, and smoking.
While it has been suspected for many years that the immune system plays a big role in psoriasis, once it was confirmed, more drugs have been researched and approved that target the immune system and treat the disease accordingly. There are now prescription medications like Amevive and Raptiva that limit the number of T cells in the skin, as well as Remicade and Enbrel which block the signal in the immune system that causes inflammation.
In some cases, prescribed topical medications in the form of corticosteroid ointments, creams, and foams may be effective in treating psoriasis, especially if the condition only affects a limited amount of skin area. However, a prescription pill may be used in conjunction with the topical treatment to rid the skin of the disease completely.
In today's world of scientific leaps and bounds, skin conditions are no longer prescriptions for shame and hibernation. Most diseases can be treated promptly and release the afflicted persons back into self-confident and comfortable living.