The vast number of skin diseases and the startling similarities between many of them can make it extremely difficult to get an accurate diagnosis and receive proper treatment for a skin problem. Some skin diseases are life-threatening and some irritating and uncomfortable for sufferers but the effect of any skin disease should not be downplayed. Even the occasional breakout of hives in response to a stressful situation can lead to poor self-esteem, social isolation, and a downward spiral in health, particularly where a sufferer is told that their condition is inconsequential or not worth investigating. Whilst many people have few problems related to their eczema, dermatitis, or previous battles with shingles, psoriasis, or other skin condition, others can experience significant adverse effects.
Recognition of Skin Diseases
Poor recognition of many skin diseases can mean that sufferers assume a condition is simply related to dry skin, a new laundry detergent, or is not that big a problem. The skin forms a protective barrier for the whole body however, and if this defense is compromised, through persistent urticaria for example, a person is at a higher risk of infection. The skin is also vital in regulating body temperature and hydration and where skin becomes dysfunctional the effects may be felt elsewhere. It is often said that the skin is an indication of general underlying health and this is particular true when considering such things as circulation, essential fatty acid status, hormonal and toxicity issues, and the presence of infectious disease, inflammation, or other pathological state. Conditions such as ringworm, erythema migrans from Lyme disease infection, scabes, or shingles may have serious adverse effects if left untreated and may even shorten life-span in some cases as some such diseases can affect the nervous system and the heart.
Skin Allergies and IBS
It is important to realise that allergies which produce an effect on the skin are often causing similar internal effects. Although contact dermatitis may occur as a result of simply washing dishes or using a new bath soap, some people suffer a skin reaction from handling foodstuffs such as tomatoes, bananas, or onions and then go on to eat such foods. The ubiquity of such foods in many people’s diets make it particularly hard to recognise the link between allergens, skin disease, and internal symptoms. Connecting skin irritation to gastrointestinal problems may have profound consequences for the health and happiness of a patient and prevent a lifetime of irritable bowel syndrome, with associated diarrhoea, constipation, cramps, flatulence, and stomach pain.
What Causes Skin Conditions?
Some skin diseases are easily treated with antibiotics, the removal of a particular allergen, or correction of a specific nutritional deficiency. Others may be more complicated and require years of sustained effort to bring under control and then keep at bay. Many people suffer from baby eczema for example, but outgrow this and have no further incidence of skin problems. Sometimes eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, or scalp psoriasis can be triggered by a new shampoo, an acute hormonal issue, a reaction to hair dye, or even a dietary allergen which involves considerable time and effort in tracking down the culprit. Consulting a qualified and experienced dermatologist should prove helpful in isolating the cause of the problem and prevent months, if not years, of trial and error in guessing what is triggering such a reaction.
Understanding Genetics and Skin Disease
Many of those with skin disease have other health complaints, with atopic eczema often connected to general atopy, asthma, and other immune system issues. Such conditions have a genetic component and several family members are likely to suffer from the same problems which may range in severity but are often exacerbated by similar things, such as dairy products, wheat, or particular environmental conditions. A propensity for acne may also be hereditary and, although usually related to times of hormonal upheaval and stress, teenage acne fairly frequently persists into adulthood and is a major cause of low self-esteem and social anxiety. The unsubstantiated association between acne and cleanliness, or poor diet and self-control, can make sufferers feel stigmatised and unlikely to seek help for their skin condition. Sometimes a few simple changes are all that is needed to treat acne, other times the acne indicates a more worrisome underlying condition that requires careful treatment. Either way, it is important not to ignore the warnings that may be inherent in any given skin condition.
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