Spot of bother

If you’re a leopard the more spots the better! For the rest of us, lumps, bumps and blemishes are a source of stress and anxiety…

For many people, a skin condition is more than just a skin condition – it can be a constant source of anxiety that dents their confidence, both socially and professionally. This is especially true at this time of year when it seems everyone else is showing off their perfect bodies and faultless complexions in the summer sunshine. Some skin conditions may simply disappear over time, while others will respond to specialist creams or antibiotics. Some, however, need the advice and experience of an expert such as a dermatologist who can investigate the root causes of a problem, take a wider view of your overall health and lifestyle and formulate a treatment plan.

Here’s our guide to the most common skin problems, put together with the help of the experts at Birmingham’s Priory and Edgbaston hospitals…

ACNE: It’s an unfortunate quirk of fate that acne surfaces at the most sensitive of times – the teenage years. It’s a disease that affects 85 per cent of teenagers in varying degrees. In many cases it eases with age, although people in their 50s can still experience problems. The most severe cases are typically treated with low-dose oral antibiotics and topical retinoids.

EXCESSIVE SWEATING: Hyperhidrosis is a common condition where the body sweats even when it doesn’t need to regulate its temperature. It’s not usually a health worry but can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. If you find that sweating is interfering with your daily life, various methods of treatment are available.

PIGMENTATION DISORDERS: A skin pigmentation disorder affects the colour of the skin. This may be a ‘hyperpigmentation’ or darkening of an area of the skin, often caused by sun damage, inflammation or acne.

ALLERGIC RASHES: Rashes can look unsightly – they change the colour and texture of the skin, while frequently itching and interfering with daily life and sleep. Apart from treating the rash itself, it’s important to consult a dermatologist to find out what’s causing the problem to prevent future episodes.

ROSACEA: As the name suggests, rosacea is a condition where the face appears flushed and red. There may also be small red bumps or pustules. There is no agreement on what causes the condition, but treatment can include photorejuvenation and oral medications. Although there is no quick fix, the disorder may be brought under control within a couple of years.

WARTS: While not a health worry, warts can be unsightly and even distressing. They’re most common on hands and feet and are caused by the HPV virus. They can be caught from touching the skin, or by sharing items such as towels, with an infected person.

SUSPICIOUS MOLES & SKIN CANCER: Moles are very common and usually pose no problems to health. However, you should monitor your own carefully and any suspicious mole should always be checked by a professional, particularly if it starts to change in size, colour or shape, or if its border becomes ragged or you notice bleeding.

ECZEMA/PSORIASIS AND DRY SKIN: These conditions tend to share the common issues of inflammatory skin linked to dryness and rashes. Treatments range from specialist ointments, creams or lotions to photo/light techniques.

NAIL FUNGUS: Onychomycosis is surprisingly common. Around eight per cent of adults may be affected by a fungus on either finger or toe nails, shown by a thickening and a yellow or cloudy appearance.

For more information on skin conditions and treatments, contact