Skin disorders, such as acne and eczema, vary greatly in symptoms and severity. They can be temporary or permanent and may be painless or painful. Some can be life threatening.
All About Common Skin Disorders
Some skin disorders have situational causes, while others may be genetic. While most skin disorders are minor, others can indicate a more serious issue.
There are many different types of skin disorders. Here are pictures of 25 different conditions, followed by a list of details for each
Acne often occurs on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, and upper back. Boy_Anupong/Getty Images
- Acne is commonly locatedTrusted Source on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, and upper back.
- Breakouts on the skin are composed of redness, blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or deep, painful cysts and nodules.
- This condition may leave scars or darken the skin if untreated.
- People of Color can experience dark spots known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).
- This condition causes a red, painful, fluid-filled blister that appears near the mouth and lips. People with lighter skin may notice more redness than those with darker skin.
- The affected area will often tingle or burn before the sore is visible.
- Outbreaks may also be accompanied by mild, flu-like symptoms such as low fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes.
- Cold sores usually look similar on any skin color but can also cause PIH in people with darker skin.
- Blisters are characterized by a watery, clear, fluid-filled area on the skin.
- They may be smaller than 1 centimeter (cm) (vesicle) or larger than 1 cm (bulla) and can occur alone or in groups.
- Blisters can be found anywhere on the body.
- This causes itchy, raised welts that occur after exposure to an allergen.
- Welts may be warm and mildly painful to the touch.
- Hives on darker skin can appear raised or inflamed and might be slightly darker or lighter than your natural skin color. On lighter skin, hives usually appear red.
- They can be small, round, ring-shaped, or randomly shaped.
- This condition causes a thick, scaly, or crusty skin patch.
- It’s typically less than 2 cmTrusted Source or about the size of a pencil eraser.
- It often appears on parts of the body that receive a lot of sun exposure, such as the hands, arms, face, scalp, and neck.
- The skin patch is usually pink in color but can have a brown, tan, or gray base. This patch may appear the same color as the surrounding skin in people with darker skin.
- This chronic skin disease goes through cycles of fading and relapse.
- Relapses may be triggered by spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, sunlight, stress, and the intestinal bacteria Helicobacter pylori.
- There are four subtypes of rosacea encompassing a wide variety of symptoms.
- Common symptoms include facial flushing, raised red bumps, skin dryness, and skin sensitivity.
- People with darker skin tones may notice brown discoloration or dry and swollen patches of dark skin.
- This causes a red, painful, and irritated lump under your skin.
- It may be accompaniedTrusted Source by fever, body aches, and fatigue.
- It can also cause skin crustiness or oozing.
- It may appear more violet on darker skin.
This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required. Contact 911 or local emergency services.
- This causes a rash, which may occur within minutes to hours after exposure to a latex product. It may be less visible on darker skin or appear lighter or darker than surrounding tissue.
- It also causes warm, itchy wheals at the site of contact, which may take on a dry, crusted appearance with repeated exposure to latex.
- Airborne latex particles may cause cough, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes.
- A severe allergy to latex can cause swelling and difficulty breathing.
- Eczema is characterized by yellow or white scaly patches that flake off.
- Affected areas may be itchy, greasy, or oily.
- On light skin, eczema can cause a red rash. This rash may appear brown, purple, or gray on darker skin.
- Hair loss may also occur in the area with the rash.
- This causes scaly, silvery, sharply defined skin patches. Darker skinned people might also experience dark brown or purplish patches on the skin.
- Patches are commonly locatedTrusted Source on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back.
- This condition may be itchy or asymptomatic.
Cellulitis is a medical emergency. A person should contact 911 or local emergency services if they have any symptoms of cellulitis.
- Cellulitis is caused by bacteria or fungi enteringTrusted Source through a crack or cut in the skin.
- It causes painful swollen skin with or without oozing that spreads quickly.
- The skin might appear red on lighter skin. However, this may be less noticeable on darker skin tones.
- The skin may feel hot and tender to the touch.
- Fever, chills, and red streaking from the rash might be symptoms of a serious infection requiring medical attention.
- Symptoms of measles include fever, sore throat, red or watery eyes, loss of appetite, cough, and runny nose.
- It also causes a red rash, which spreads from the face down the body 3 to 5 daysTrusted Source after the first symptoms appear. This rash might be more difficult to see on darker skin.
- Tiny red spots with blue-white centers may appear inside the mouth.
- Measles may causeTrusted Source more obvious PIH in People of Color
Basal cell carcinoma
- This condition is often characterized by raised, firm, and pale areas that may resembleTrusted Source a scar.
- It can cause dome-like, pink or red, shiny, and pearly areas that may have a sunk-in center, like a crater. For people with dark skin, it might appear darker and less pearly.
- Blood vessels on the growth may be visible.
- It might cause easy bleeding or an oozing wound that doesn’t seem to heal or heals and then reappears.
Squamous cell carcinoma
- This condition often occursTrusted Source in areas exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, such as the face, ears, and back of the hands.
- It may be characterized by a scaly, reddish patch of skin, which progresses to a raised bump that continues to grow. The bump may be lighter on darker skin.
- It can also cause a growth that bleeds easily, doesn’t heal, or heals and then reappears.
- This is the most seriousTrusted Source form of skin cancer, which is more common in people with light skin.
- It can appear anywhere on the body as a mole that has irregularly shaped edges, asymmetrical shapes, and multiple colors. In People of Color, melanoma often appears in areas that are less exposed to the sun.
- It might also appear as a mole that has changed color or gotten bigger over time, which is usually larger than a pencil eraser.
- Lupus symptoms includeTrusted Source fatigue, headaches, fever, and swollen or painful joints.
- It can cause a scaly, disc-shaped rash that doesn’t itch or hurt.
- Scaly red patches or ring shapes are most commonly located on the shoulders, forearms, neck, and upper torso and worsen with exposure to sunlight. People of Color have a greater risk of developingTrusted Source PIH and abnormal scarring.
- It also causes a warm, brown, or red rash that spreads across the cheeks and bridge of the nose like butterfly wings and worsens in the sun.
- This condition appears hours to days after contact with an allergen.
- It causes a rash with visible borders and appears where your skin touched the irritating substance.
- The skin may be itchy, scaly, or raw. Lighter skin can appear red, while darker skin may appear purple, gray, or dark brown.
- It might also cause blisters that weep, ooze, or become crusty.
- Vitiligo is characterized by loss of pigment in the skin due toTrusted Source autoimmune destruction of the cells that give skin its color.
- Focal vitiligo causes loss of skin color in only a few small areas, which may merge together.
- Segmental pattern vitiligo causes depigmentation on one side of the body.
- Vitiligo can also cause premature graying of the scalp or facial hair.
- People of different skin tones will usually develop skin patches much lighter than their natural skin tone. In people with darker skin, it tends to be more noticeable, which may cause increased stigma related to the condition.
- Warts are caused by many different types of a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV).
- They may be found on the skin or mucous membranes and can occur singly or in groups.
- Warts are contagious and may be passed to others. They may appearTrusted Source darker on skin of color.
- This can causeTrusted Source clusters of itchy, red or brown, fluid-filled blisters in various stages of healing all over the body.
- The rash is accompanied by fever, body aches, sore throat, and loss of appetite.
- Chickenpox remains contagious until all blisters have crusted over.
- Chickenpox can be harder to see on darker skin.
- This condition is characterized byTrusted Source yellow or white scaly patches that flake off.
- Affected areas may be red, itchy, greasy, or oily.
- People with darker skin may also notice hypopigmentation, or loss of skin color, in affected areas.
- Hair loss may occur in the area with the rash.
- This common skin condition is most often seen on the arms and legs but might also occur on the face, buttocks, and trunk.
- It often clears up on its own by age 30.
- It often causes patches of skin that appear bumpy, appear slightly red, and feel rough.
- Symptoms may get worse in dry weather.
- The hair follicles may look darker than the surrounding skin on darker skin. They’ll usually look red or purple on lighter skin.
- This condition causesTrusted Source circular, scaly rashes with a raised border.
- Skin in the middle of the ring might appear clear and healthy, and the ring’s edges may spread outward.
- The skin often feels itchy.
- The ring is usually red or pink on light skin and brown or gray on darker skin.
- This common skin condition causes dark patches to appear on the face and — rarely — the neck, chest, or arms.
- Melasma is more common in pregnant people (chloasma) and individuals with a darker skin color or heavy sun exposure.
- It might not cause other symptoms beyond skin discoloration.
- It may go away on its own within a year or may become permanent.
- This condition is commonTrusted Source in babies and children.
- It usually causes an irritating rash, which is often located in the area around the mouth, chin, and nose.
- It might also cause fluid-filled blisters that pop easily and form a honey-colored crust.
- It may be harder to see on darker skin.
These substances can trigger a reaction that causes the skin to become itchy and inflamed. Affected areas might also appear red, purple, gray, or dark brown. Most cases of contact dermatitis aren’t severe, but they can be rather itchy.
Topical creams and avoiding the irritant are typical treatments.
Keratosis pilaris is a minor condition that causes small, rough bumps on the skin. These bumps usually form on the upper arms, thighs, or cheeks. They’re typically red or white and don’t hurt or itch.
Treatment isn’t necessary, but medicated creams can improve skin appearance.
Some chronic skin conditions present from birth, while others appear suddenly later.
The cause of these disorders isn’t always known. Many permanent skin disorders have effective treatments that enable extended periods of remission. However, they’re incurable, and symptoms can reappear at any time.
Examples of chronic skin conditions include:
- rosacea, which is characterized by small, pus-filled bumps on the face
- psoriasis, which causes scaly, itchy, and dry patches
- vitiligo, which results in large, irregular patches of lighter skin
Skin disorders are common in children. Children can experience many of the same skin conditions as adults. Infants and toddlers are also at risk of diaper-related skin problems.
Since children have more frequent exposure to other children and germs, they may also develop skin disorders that rarely occur in adults.
Many childhood skin problems disappear with age, but children can also inherit permanent skin disorders. In most cases, doctors can treat childhood skin disorders with topical creams, medicated lotions, or condition-specific drugs.
Common childhood skin disorders include:
- diaper rash
- seborrheic dermatitis
- fifth disease
- rashes from bacterial or fungal infections
- rashes from allergic reactions
Skin conditions have a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms on your skin that appear due to common problems aren’t always the result of a skin disorder. Such symptoms can include blisters from new shoes or chafing from tight pants.
However, skin problems with no obvious cause may indicate the presence of a skin disorder that requires treatment.
Skin irregularities that are typically symptoms of a skin disorder include:
- raised bumps that are red or white
- a rash, which might be painful or itchy
- scaly or rough skin
- peeling skin
- open sores or lesions
- dry, cracked skin
- discolored patches of skin
- fleshy bumps, warts, or other skin growths
- changes in mole color or size
- a loss of skin pigment
- excessive flushing
Common known causes of skin disorders includeTrusted Source:
- bacteria trapped in skin pores and hair follicles
- fungus, parasites, or microorganisms living on the skin
- a weakened immune system
- contact with allergens, irritants, or another person’s infected skin
- genetic factors
- illnesses affecting the thyroid, immune system, kidneys, and other body systems
Numerous health conditions and lifestyle factors can also lead to the development of certain skin disorders. Some skin conditions have no known cause.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease is a term for a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract. These bowel-related disorders often cause skin problems.
The drugs used to treat these diseases can cause certain skin conditions, such as:
Many people with diabetes experience a skin problem due to their condition at some point.
Some of these skin disorders only affect people with diabetes. Others occur more frequently in people with diabetes because the disease increases the risk of infection and blood circulation problems.
Diabetes-related skin conditions include:
- bacterial infections, such as boils, styes, and folliculitis
- fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and yeast infections
- acanthosis nigricans
- diabetic blisters
- diabetic dermopathy
- digital sclerosis
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can damage the skin, joints, or organs inside the body. Common skin problems that occur from lupus include:
- a red, butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and nose
- round lesions on the face and head
- thick, red, scaly lesions
- red, ring-shaped lesions on body parts exposed to sunlight
- flat rash on the face and body that looks like a sunburn
- red, purple, or black spots on fingers and toes
- sores inside the mouth and nose
- tiny red spots on the legs
Pregnancy causes significant changes in hormone levels that may lead to skin problems. Preexisting skin problems may change or get worse during pregnancy. Most skin conditions that arise during pregnancy go away after the baby is born. Others require medical attention during pregnancy.
Common skin conditions caused by pregnancy include:
The sun can cause many different skin disorders. Some are common and harmless, while others are rare or life threatening. Knowing if the sun causes or worsens your skin disorder is important for treating it properly.
Sunlight exposure may cause or aggravate the following conditions:
- actinic keratosis
- skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma
Many skin disorders are treatable. Common treatment methods for skin conditions include:
- medicated creams and ointments
- vitamin or steroid injections
- laser therapy
- targeted prescription medications
Not all skin disorders respond to treatment, and some conditions go away without treatment.
People with permanent skin conditions often go through periods of severe symptoms. Sometimes people are able to force incurable conditions into remission. However, most skin conditions reappear due to certain triggers, such as stress or illness.
You can often treat skin disorders that are temporary and cosmetic with:
- medicated makeup
- over-the-counter (OTC) skin care products
- good hygiene practices
- small lifestyle adjustments, such as making certain dietary changes
Certain skin disorders aren’t preventable, including genetic conditions and some skin problems due to other illnesses. However, it’s possible to prevent some skin disorders.
Follow these tips to prevent infectious skin disorders:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently.
- Avoid sharing eating utensils and drinking glasses with other people.
- Avoid direct contact with the skin of other people who have an infection.
- Clean things in public spaces, such as gym equipment, before using them.
- Don’t share personal items like blankets, hairbrushes, or swimsuits.
- Sleep for at least 7 hours each night.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid excessive physical or emotional stress.
- Eat a nutritious diet.
- Get vaccinated for infectious skin conditions, such as chickenpox.
Noncontagious skin disorders
Noninfectious skin disorders, such as acne and atopic dermatitis, are sometimes preventable. Prevention techniques vary depending on the condition. Here are some tips for preventing some noninfectious skin disorders:
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and water every day.
- Use moisturizer.
- Avoid environmental and dietary allergens.
- Avoid contact with harsh chemicals or other irritants.
- Sleep for at least 7 hours each night, as many skin conditions can worsen due to lack of sleep.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Protect your skin from excessive cold, heat, and wind.
Learning about proper skin care and treatment for skin disorders can be very important for skin health. Some conditions require a doctor’s attention, while you can address others safely at home.
You should learn about your symptoms or condition and talk with a doctor to determine the best treatment methods.
What are the most common skin disorders?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. Other common skin disorders include atopic dermatitis, hair loss, and rosacea.
What is the most serious skin disease?
There are several serious skin conditions. In particular, melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be especially dangerous, as it could spreadTrusted Source to other parts of the body if not caught early. Cellulitis and latex allergy can also be very serious if left untreated.
Which skin disease is not curable?
A few examples of chronic skin conditions include rosacea, psoriasis, and vitiligo. While these conditions can’t be cured, some may have treatments available to help manage symptoms.