Psoriasis is a group of chronic skin disorders that cause itching and/or burning, scaling and crusting of the skin. Over seven million men and women in the U.S. of all ages have some form of psoriasis, which may be mild, moderate or severe. The most commonly affected areas are the scalp, elbows, knees, hands, feet and genitals.
Psoriasis cannot be cured but it can be treated successfully, sometimes for months or years at a time and occasionally even permanently. Treatment depends on the type, severity and location of psoriasis. The patient’s age, medical history and life may also have a significant impact on the methods utilized. The most common treatments are topical medications, phototherapy, photochemotherapy (PUVA), and oral or injectable medication (for severe symptoms).
Vitiligo is a common skin condition in which patches of the skin lose pigmentation and appear white. These patches develop when melanin is not produced properly, and tend to spread over time as the condition progresses. Some patients may also experience premature whitening of the hair and a loss of color inside the mouth. Although not harmful, patients with vitiligo are often bothered by their appearance and may seek treatment to correct their skin tone.
Treatment for vitiligo depends on the severity of the condition, and may include oral or topical medications, UVB therapy, depigmentation or skin grafts. While there is no cure for this condition, treatment is often effective in improving the appearance of the skin. \
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and involves abnormal growths of skin cells that can form anywhere on the body, but most frequently appear on skin that is exposed to the sun. There are more than a million new cases of skin cancer in the US each year. Although most cases of skin cancer can be successfully treated, it is still important to keep skin safe and healthy and try to prevent this disease.
There are three major types of skin cancer that affect associated layers of the skin:
- Squamous cell carcinoma affects the squamous cells, which are just below the outer surface of the skin and serve as the inner lining. It is responsible for 10% of all skin cancers. These growths can vary in appearance and may be new or a change to a pre-existing mole. Most cases can be completely removed through minimally invasive procedures.
- Basal cell carcinoma affects the basal cells, which lay under the squamous cells and produce new skin cells. It is responsible for 80 to 85% of all skin cancers. This type of cancer rarely spreads and can usually be removed easily, but is still a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. It may appear on the skin as a new growth that bleeds easily or does not heal quickly and may be white, pink, flesh-colored or brown.
- Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and affects the melanocytes, which produce melanin. Relatively rare, it is responsible for 5% of all skin cancers but is the most dangerous and is the leading cause of death from skin disease. The earliest symptoms of melanoma are abnormal growths on the skin or changes in existing moles. Melanoma is usually diagnosed through a full skin exam and a biopsy of the suspicious-looking area.
Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading.