Skin is a beautiful thing…most of the time. But not only is your skin the largest organ of your body, it can
also be the most annoying when it comes to all the problems that can be associated with it. We’ve all had the dreadful acne attacks that seem to take forever to clear, but what happens when it really doesn’t get better or sometimes it even gets worse? You might have something other than a usual breakout. Here are some common skin conditions and what to do when it really is more than just a break out.
The term “acne” gets used pretty loosely in our language. Most people who think or say they have “acne” really just have a few blackheads and maybe some zits occasionally. There are actually six types of acne, most of which can be treated with OTC products and a good skin routine.
However, sometimes that might not be enough. Cystic acne is one of the most severe types and usually
requires the help of a dermatologist or more harsh medications and products. If you experience severe
papules (zits), pustules (pimples), and nodules (hardened bumps under the skin) that last for a month
or more than you might have developed cystic acne. Usually this will start when you go through puberty
but in rare cases it can develop as you get older. Don’t try to pop or extract any of these yourself
because they can leave scars very easily due to the deep roots in the skin. You can also rupture the
follicle that holds the bacteria which will only make things worse and make it harder to contain and
control. See a dermatologist or a medical esthetician in this case. They will usually prescribe you a
topical medication and do a harsh facial treatment either with chemical peels, mechanical stimulation
or abrasive products. Don’t panic if you realize you have this, these days there is so much-known science
behind acne and its causes that you should be able to get on a routine and clear up in 4-8 weeks.
The terms “psoriasis” and “eczema” are often used interchangeably. But in fact, they are completely
different. I put both of these in the same category so that you can see the difference (psoriasis on left
and eczema on right). There are various forms of each condition but these are the most common seen
in 16-25 year old women. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes the skin cells to grow too
quickly. We all have a natural shedding process that allows our skin to remain smooth but with psoriasis
the body actually produces the amount of new cells in days what would normally take weeks. Since the
body can’t shed these cells quick enough, they pile up on top of each other, producing the lesions that
you see. Please know that this is not contagious at all! Although the cause is not quite known, scientists
believe it is hereditary and certain triggers such as stress, skin injury, weakening of the immune system
can cause outbreaks to happen. Eczema is a form of dermatitis (inflammation of the outer layer of the
skin). These inflammations cause swelling, rashes and dry itchy skin. Again, this is not contagious! The
cause also is not known, but usually connected to genetic links as well. For both of these conditions,
going to a dermatologist is best. For most cases these conditions are chronic (you will have them for
life) but there are many medications, creams and ointments that can diminish the look, side effects and
number of outbreaks you will have. An estimated 7.2 million people have psoriasis and 5.7 million have
eczema so know that you are not alone.
If you’ve never had a rash, hives or some other form of allergic reaction, consider yourself very lucky!
These occur usually due to a new product you started using, an extreme increase in heat or climate change (heat rash, wind burn, frost bite), or even a type of clothing material that doesn’t let your skin breathe. Symptoms can include itching, flaking, redness and bumps in certain areas. I know how
annoying this can be but don’t panic! The hardest part is figuring out what you started using or doing
differently and then getting rid of it. Try using lotions, washes, even laundry detergent made for sensitive skin. These products are less harsh and have less fragrances and chemical additives which
could be the cause of your reaction. If you feel like you’ve tried and changed everything, go into a
dermatologist and they can usually figure out what the cause is or at least how to treat it effectively.
I know, we all think we’re indestructible. We can pull all-nighters for finals, eat a whole pizza and not
gain a pound and go out in the sun everyday without sunscreen…right?! WRONG! Although we all
think we’re too young to get cancer, skin cancer does not discriminate any age. This is probably the
most devastating skin condition you can be diagnosed with. One of the main problems though, is that
we don’t really notice it until its later stages. If you have a mole, freckle or anything suspect on your
body, be sure to check yourself regularly. If you have to, sing your ABCD’s… Asymmetry, Borders, Color,
Diameter. There are many different forms of skin cancer but the picture above shows what to look for
as abnormal. If anything looks similar, go to the doctor immediately. This can be treated in some cases
but the key is early detection. Prevention is the best way to never have to have a scare like this. Wear at
least an SPF 20 moisturizer or makeup everyday and stay away from the tanning beds! I know being tan
is a good look but try spray or sunless tanning, tinted moisturizers or bronzers to get the look you want.
Trust me, the summer sun is beautiful but without protection the risk is not worth the consequences.
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Sarah Felix is a senior at the University of Oregon, graduating in June. She is a double major in Psychology and Sociology and a minor in Communications. She also has received her Oregon Esthetician’s License and currently in the process of obtaining her Oregon Medical Esthetician’s License. She loves fashion, beauty and anything that makes her laugh. She’s a permanent Duck fan that “Lives GREEN and yells O!”