The skinny on skin

The skinny on skin

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Taking care of the largest organ in your body is about more than just avoiding age spots and wrinkles. While the appearance of your skin can affect how you feel about yourself, it can also be an indication of an underlying condition. 

If you notice a change in your skin, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Many common skin problems, such as rashes, hives and contact dermatitis, can be resolved with a visit to your doctor. While not all skin changes are caused by skin cancer, it’s important to get them checked out since early detection offers a better chance at successfully treating it. 

Your skin: 

  • Protects germs from entering your body 

  • Helps regulate body temperature 

  • Plays a role in keeping our immune system healthy 

  • Permits the sensations of touch, heat and cold 

  • Makes up about 15% of your body weight 

  • Consists of about 300 million cells 


Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. More than 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year. Most skin problems are not cancer, but they can be 

aggravating. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment for common skin conditions can help resolve them sooner and more effectively than waiting it out or trying to treat them on your own. 

Your healthcare provider may suggest the following treatments to help with common skin problems: 

  • Topical creams 

  • Oral antibiotics 

  • Antihistamines 

  • Corticosteroids 

  • Laser treatments 


One common skin problem is contact dermatitis, which is contact with an irritant or allergen that causes redness, itching, swelling, scaling or small blisters. Poison ivy is a classic cause, but dryness can result from something as simple as contact with detergents or hair dyes. Regular moisturizing can help avoid dryness and flare-ups. 

Another common problem is eczema (atopic dermatitis). This is characterized by red, itchy bumps that often starts in childhood. The cause of eczema is unknown, so the best bet for dealing with it is to make sure your skin stays moisturized. Medications can also help with the itching. 

Psoriasis is the result of immune system miscommunications that cause skin to regenerate too quickly. It is identified by elevated red lesions with a silvery coating. Triggers for psoriasis include infection, stress and simple environmental factors. It’s important to diagnose psoriasis early, because up to one-third of sufferers also develop psoriatic arthritis, which can be disabling. 

Many people suffer from hives at some point in their lives. These are raised red or white welts and are usually short-term, but they can become chronic. Antihistamines can be an effective weapon against them. Hives in the mouth or throat that result in swelling, however, can disrupt swallowing or breathing and require emergency department care. 

Another common skin condition – rosacea – is the presence of enlarged blood vessels, usually on the face. Early diagnosis and treatment can control and prevent progression. You may have rosacea if you have skin pinkness or redness with a “flushed” feeling. Rosacea may be caused by heredity, environment, or immune system problems. Heat, stress and the tannic acids in alcoholic beverages can also aggravate rosacea. 


Resource: Relevate 


Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.