Your skin is the largest organ in your integumentary system, and indeed your entire body. If you could remove your skin, it would cover roughly 3,000 square inches and weigh approximately six pounds in normal adults.
Your skin is also one of the most demanding organs of your body, greedily taking a third of the blood that circulates throughout your body. Waterproof, rugged, and flexible, your skin is constantly repairing and regenerating to keep this precious barrier against bacteria and infection intact.
However, skin is susceptible to a host of physical problems and conditions, usually when some entity or process in the skin breaks down or is injured. When the hair follicles designed to anchor body hair and keep foreign materials out of your body themselves become compromised by bacteria, an infection can take root that's both painful and potentially serious.
Even the restorative features of sunlight can cause skin cancer, sunburn, and Sun poisoning when the skin is exposed to it's direct rays for prolonged periods of time. The Sun isn't the only culprit for skin damage, as tanning booths produce UV rays that have a similar impact on skin.
Common Skin Conditions
For being such a durable barrier, the skin actually seems quite vulnerable. Think about the last time some condition was present on your skin. It's very likely that you even now can find some minor skin condition on your body. Skin conditions are indeed some of the most common ailments of the human body. Some of the frequently encountered skin conditions include:
Acne: A condition characterized by raised red patches of skin on the face, upper chest, back, and shoulders, although acne can occur anywhere. Acne can come in the form of whiteheads, cysts, inflammation, or blackheads.
Age Spots: Also called liver spots, age spots are flat patches (brown or black in color) that form on areas of the skin most often exposed to sunlight. Medically harmless, age spots are a common concern for dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons. Although sometimes called liver spots, this condition has no connection to your liver or its function.
Birthmarks: Present from birth, birthmarks are harmless brown or black spots or moles. Like age spots, some people choose to have them removed if they are in visible locations like the face.
Boils: A boil is formed when a hair follicle becomes infected and the infection spreads to nearby tissues in your skin. Boils may be firm, swollen, pink to red, and tender, but eventually develop into a pus-filled bump.
Cold Sores: Cold sores are a form of herpes that occur on lips and the corners of your mouth. Around 57.7% of Americans are infected with HSV-1, the virus that produces these sores, early in life. By age 50, only around 10% to 20% of people have never contracted HSV-1. There is no cure, but cold sores tend to be harmless and respond to home remedies.
Eczema: Eczema is a chronic skin condition that manifests in the form of rashes and scaly skin that itch. Blisters may also appear in affected areas. Dry or bumpy skin can indicate the onset of an eczema breakout.
Hives: While hives are most often produced by an allergic reaction, there are cause for the rash that indicates hives. Almost all outbreaks of hives dissipate within six weeks, but chronic hives can last much longer.
Impetigo: Impetigo is a very common skin condition characterized by one to many pus-filled blisters, which can easily break and leave a raw red base. Sores from this condition are slow to heal but typically don't leave scars. Impetigo is contagious, so proper treatment and protection is necessary to prevent the condition from spreading.
Psoriasis: A common condition that comes in the form of irritation or red skin. Most outbreaks of psoriasis result in scaly red skin that can flake. Psoriasis can appear slowly or quickly, and seems to target anyone although it is most common in those ages 15 to 35.
Rashes: Rashes are localized or extensive areas of red and irritated skin that can burn and/or itch. Both common rashes and infectious rashes are common in humans, but most are readily cured through topical ointments or antibiotics.
Ringworm: Despite it's name, ringworm is not a worm at all, but an infection caused by a fungus. Ringworm is commonly present on multiple sites on the body. This skin condition is marked by red, itchy, raised, and scaly patched that may blister and ooze.
Rosacea: Those with rosacea may experience redness in their faces along with swelling and possible skin sores resembling acne. this skin condition is chronic and, once present, tends to recur throughout the affected person's life.
Scabies: Regarded as one of the most contagious among skin conditions, scabies is a disease of the skin brought on by a species of mite. Early scabies onset can be difficult to diagnose as it resembles many other skin conditions like allergic reactions and dermatitis.
Scars: Scars are tissues that replace areas of lost skin as a result of an injury. With exception to very minor cuts like paper cuts, almost every wound will result in some form of scar. Scars are less effective than normal skin at blocking UV rays, and cannot regrow sweat glands or hair follicles.
Shingles: Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a viral disease that manifests as painful blisters in a small area, usually only on one side of the body. Over-the-counter analgesics, antiviral medications, and steroids can help manage outbreaks. Those who had chickenpox when they were younger will likely develop herpes zoster later in life.
Spider Veins: Although spider veins resemble varicose veins to some degree, spider veins are smaller and appear closer to the surface of the skin. Spider veins can be either red or blue in color.
Staph Infection: A staph infection is caused by a bacteria known as staphylococcal. This bacteria causes symptoms like boils and rashes on the skin. Staph is also responsible for many cases of food poisoning, characterized by vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea.
Sun Burn: Sun burn occurs when portions of your skin are overexposed to sunlight. UV rays can damage skin, and are particularly hazardous during the spring and summer when the Sun is brightest. Frequent Sun burns can lead to skin cancer.
Stretch Marks: Most people will develop stretch marks at some point in their lives, which appear following over-stretching of the skin. When weight changes rapidly or during a pregnancy, skin can be stretched too far and tear. These tears appear as stretch marks.
Varicose Veins: Veins that have filled with an abnormal amount of blood often form varicose veins. Pain in the legs, heaviness, and swelling often accompany these visible, enlarged veins. People with jobs that require constant standing still are more at risk for developing varicose veins.
Warts: Warts resemble cauliflower or solid blisters and are caused by viral infections. There are actually ten different varieties of worts that appear on humans. The most common varieties are a cosmetic concern, but harmless.
Wrinkles: Wrinkles appear as folds, ridges, or creases in the skin. Wrinkles typically form as a result of the aging process, after considerable weight loss, or due to smoke and poor hydration.
As the largest organ of your body, your skin is constantly bombarded by foreign elements, bacteria, viruses, and parasites. In addition to providing a barrier against these foes, your skin also helps regulate body temperature and remove waste.
Your skin's sensation is naturally sensitive to pain and temperature as a way to warn you that temperatures might be excessive, or continuing an activity might cause tissue damage.
But this organ is also left open to a variety of skin conditions -- some merely a nuisance while others can be painful and quite serious. Good hygiene and a healthy diet prevent many skin conditions, but some are merely a result of an infestation that can strike anyone.
If any skin condition persists for more than a week or grows worse, seek medical attention immediately. Infections on the skin can spread to other organs and cause much more severe conditions.