Dermatologist Dr Chris Foo Shares 8 Common Skin Conditions And How To Treat Them
Is your skin itching, breaking out or acting weird? As much as it’s your body’s first line of defense, skin issues can directly affect your appearance. We speak to Dr. Chris Foo, Specialist in Dermatology, Raffles Skin and Aesthetics, to uncover eight common skin conditions and suggest ways to manage them either at home or in your doctor’s office.
Acne is most common during puberty when your hormones are raging. Hormones influence glandular activities, resulting in more oil production, and shedding of cells lining causes blackheads and whiteheads to turn into inflammatory lesions. That said, acne in adulthood is becoming more common, and it is important to get that adequately treated by your doctor to lessen scars.
A blackhead is open, while a whitehead is closed.
How can I treat acne?
Over-the-counter products containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and sulphur. For moderate to severe acne, see a skin doctor for oral and topical prescriptive medications.
Warts are caused by infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). They are generally harmless and may disappear over time. At the same time, they may be unsightly and a source of embarrassment. Some warts may be painful and grow larger or spread to other sites. Warts are also contagious and can be passed on to others.
How can warts be treated?
Liquid nitrogen treatment otherwise known as cryotherapy. It may require several sessions, but it’s non-invasive. Surgical procedures such as electro-cauterisation or laser ablation cost more and may leave scars, but you need only one or two treatments. Over-the-counter salicylic acid can work with some warts, but generally take longer and may not be effective for large and stubborn warts.
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
No one knows the exact cause of eczema (atopic dermatitis), but it is thought to be due to genetic factors leading to dry, irritable skin as well as a malfunction in the body’s immune system leading to inflammation of the skin. It usually manifests as a dry scaly rash.
Emollients (moisturisers) to relieve dry skin and protect it from environmental trigger factors. Switch to soap-free cleansers instead of harsh soaps. You can speak to a dermatologist for prescription creams to relieve itching and inflammation. Serious cases can benefit from phototherapy or oral immunosuppressive drugs.
Do you have thick skin? Corn and callus are thickened skin that is caused by friction. They are mostly harmless but can sometimes cause pain when pressure is applied. Complications for corn and callus are few but diabetics should examine their feet frequently.
How can I treat thickened skin?
Avoiding friction. Toss those poor-fitting shoes and wear socks or gloves to protect against friction. Remember to see your doctor if there’s an infection or ulcer.
Corns are smaller and round and may have a hole in the centre, while calluses are flat broad areas of thickened skin.
Skin tags are small and flesh-coloured bumps connected to our skin by a narrow stalk. They come in a variety of colours, textures and sizes. Thankfully, skin tags are non-cancerous. They are commonly found where there’s friction against skin or clothing. Some studies show that skin tags may be associated with obesity and genes.
How can skin tags be treated?
Your skin doctor’s help, using sterile surgical scissors, liquid nitrogen (freezing), and cautery (burning). After removal, you may encounter minor bleeding or infection. Skin tags may recur even after removal.
Do you have a small, round bump under the skin that emits a thick white smelly material (keratin) when pressed? When inflamed, the area may be red, swollen and tender. You may have an epidermoid cyst, usually caused by damaged hair follicle or oil gland.
How can oil lumps be treated?
Injection by your doctor to reduce the swelling and inflammation. Your doctor may also recommend incision and drainage, but cysts are likely to recur. That’s when you may consider minor surgery to remove the cyst completely but it may leave a scar.
You probably have had one just this year. Mouth ulcers can be painful but harmless. They are usually caused by accidental biting or injury. Stress is another cause of ulcer. If your ulcer extends beyond three weeks or recurs frequently, see your doctor or dentist.
How can I treat sores?
Antiseptic mouthwash, spray, gel or lozenges to reduce the pain and help the ulcer heal faster. You can also use a soft toothbrush when brushing your teeth and avoid hard and sharp foods.