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Common skin conditions and how to treat them

If you have an irritated or inflamed area of skin, you’ve probably got a skin condition. It could be caused by an allergy, infection or the medication you’re taking. It might appear suddenly or take a while to develop.

We all get itchy skin from time to time and it can be handy to know what type of condition you have so you can figure out whether you can treat it yourself over the counter or need to book an appointment with your doctor. In this article, we’ve highlighted some of the most common skin conditions and how they should be treated.

  1. Acne

Most people suffer from acne at some point in their lives. Hormonal changes can cause your skin cells to produce more sebum (oil) which blocks your pores and causes breakouts of spots, blackheads and whiteheads. Acne is normally more prevalent on your face, neck, shoulders, chest and back but you can get it in other areas too.

If your acne is mild to moderate, you should be able to treat it with acne cream or gel, but if it is severe then you are best booking an appointment with your doctor as they’ll be able to prescribe tablets and antibiotics.

  1. Athletes foot

This skin condition is caused by fungus and affects the skin between your toes. It can cause your skin to become flaky, itchy and red. You can usually treat it yourself by applying some foot spray or cream to both of your feet. However, if you have a severe infection your skin might blister and you’ll need to see your doctor.

  1. Cold sores 
Cold sores are small blisters that appear around your mouth, usually on your lower lip. They’re caused by the herpes simplex virus and can be quite painful. They usually take between a week and ten days to clear up on their own but you can apply cold sore ointment if you want to soothe your skin, make your cold sore less noticeable and speed up the healing time.

  1. Contact dermatitis

Itching is sometimes a response to irritants and allergens. This form of eczema usually affects the face and hands but can occur on any part of the body, normally calming down within a few hours or days.

If you find that your skin is inflamed and you have a pink or red rash when you take off your watch or jewellery, then it could be that your skin is allergic or irritated by the item you’ve been wearing. If you stop wearing the item your skin should go back to normal within a few days. If your rash is caused by an irritant at work, you’ll need to start wearing protective clothing to stop the irritant coming into contact with your skin.

  1. Eczema
One in five children and one in twelve adults in the UK have eczema. It causes your skin to become dry, itchy, scaly and red. If you have a severe form of eczema, then your skin might crack, bleed and weep.

  1. Urticaria

This raised, red, itchy rash is also known as hives, weals, nettle rash and welts. It makes your skin look like it’s been stung by nettles and the rashes are often round or ring shaped. It is often caused by exposure to heat, cold or an allergic reaction. An urticarial rash usually clears up by itself within 48 hours but if yours doesn’t, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

  1. Warts
Warts are small lumps that are most commonly found on hands. Warts on your feet are known as verrucas. You can leave warts to heal naturally or use a freezing spray, gel or cream if you don’t want to wait.

  1. Dry Skin

When your skin is stripped of natural moisture it can often feel itchy and flaky. Applying a moisturiser or emollient is the quickest remedy to soothe the itchiness.

  1. Heat Rashes

Triggered by heat and humid weather, these itchy rashes are also known as prickly heat. Try to cool your skin down by wearing loose clothing and applying a damp cloth to the area.

  1. Folliculitis
Shaving or wearing clothes that rub the skin can block or irritate hair follicles causing these red, itchy pimples. Soothe your skin with some cooling aloe vera and avoid applying lotions and moisturisers which contain alcohol.

  1. Lichen planus

Usually occurring in adults over the age of 40, this rash appears as raised, red spots typically on the wrists, around the ankles and on the lower back. Help treat your skin by avoiding using soap on your skin and by applying an emollient lotion to the affected area.

  1. Psoriasis
Signs of a psoriasis outbreak begin with patches of red spots which turn scaly as they grow larger. Often itchy, these patches can appear anywhere on the body but are usually found on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. This is usually treated with prescribed topical creams and ointments from a doctor.

  1. Dandruff

As well as distinctive dry flakes, this condition may leave the scalp feeling raw and itchy. Anti-dandruff shampoo is normally recommended to cleanse and soothe the scalp.

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