Integumentary System Diseases or Disorders

Any medical condition associated with the skin, hair or nails can be rightly considered the integumentary system disorder, which may be either mild or involve significant amount of severity and complexity. Even there are certain conditions that can claim the life of the victim, for example, skin cancer. Depending upon the particular type and intensity of the disorder, appropriate curative measures are suggested by the specialized health consultants. Sometimes, the treatment is quick, easy and inexpensive but at the other times it has to be carried out for longer periods and costs a lot of money. For the sake of avoiding all these troublesome, and often unbearable, consequences, the wise always opt for taking preventive measures, thus averting the possibility of contacting any such ailment. Among the commonly occurring skin conditions, there include eczema, acne, psoriasis, rashes, dermatitis, cellulitis, warts, melanoma, dandruff, rosacea, skin abscess, actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, and many more. Here follows a brief description of some of the painful conditions which frequently victimize the susceptible individuals round the globe:

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Being the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma accounts for about 90% of all the skin cancer cases in the United States of America. Though such a cancer does not metastasize or spread to other parts of the body, but it does grow in size and invade the surrounding tissues. The factors contributing towards its development include weakened immune system, excessive exposure to the sunrays and lighter coloration of the skin. So surprisingly, in 20% of the cases, the affected areas aren’t usually exposed to the sun, such as scalp, legs, arms, chest and back. Initially appearing as dome-shaped bump, the texture of such a spot often looks shiny and pearly, but it may also be dark in appearance owing to the presence of melanin pigments. Mostly appearing after the age of 50, basal cell carcinomas grow very slowly and, in majority of the cases, affect facial skin. After its proper diagnosis through biopsy, it can be successfully cured by a number of effective strategies, including surgical excision, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, Mohs micrographic surgery, curettage & desiccation, and administration of drugs, for instance, vismodegib. The best prevention is to avoid sun exposure as much as possible, especially during the hours from 10 am to 2 pm, and the use of sunscreen with the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) value of 30 or higher.

Scabies

Scabies are caused by the action of tiny mites that burrow into the skin, and its typical symptoms involve an intensely itchy rash in the finger webs, buttocks, wrists and elbows. In case of small children and infants, however, the small blisters may appear even on face, soles, neck and palms. Needing a human host for survival, the parasites look for closed environments for breeding such as nursing homes and child care centers. The incredibly itchy rash appears when a female mite burrows into the skin and deposits eggs. Norwegian or crusted scabies is a rare form of the disease that affects persons with weakened immune system and is characterized by extreme mite infestation. Diagnosis is carried out through the visual inspection and microscopic examination of a skin scraping, and for treatment, the victims may be suggested the topical medication, such as permethrin cream which is applied overnight and washed in the evening. Other treatment measures involve the administration of oral medication and antibiotics. With effective curative measures, the symptoms start subsiding and disease disappears completely within three to four weeks.

Rosacea

Owing to its close resemblance with another skin condition, the chronic disorder rosacea is often mistaken for acne. Like the latter, the former may also be mild, moderate or severe and may last for a varying length of time. Seen most often in women with age over 30, it affects one in twenty American adults and the symptoms appear in three stages. In the first stage, the patients suffer from persistent facial blushing, burning and feeling that the skin is pulled tight across the face. The second stage involves more widespread facial redness that is accompanied by bumps and the swelling of the cheeks and nose0. In the third stage of rosacea, the disease gets even more intense with swelling becoming graver and spreading across much wider area in the vicinity. After diagnosing the condition via the patient history and physical examination, a physician is likely to prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to reduce blemishes and redness. A rosacea tends to recur with the discontinuation of therapy, topical metronidazole or oral tetracycline may be required throughout the lifespan of the victim. The third stage, called rhinophyma, can be treated quiet easily and effectively by the application of laser or standard surgery.

Ringworm

Also known as dermatophytosis, ringworm is one of the very common skin infections that is caused by tinea a group of several different species of fungi. Affecting all the major parts of the integumentary system, this infection results in the formation of scaly, round, itchy, red patches on the nails, feet, groin, scalp and the skin under the beard. Growing to about one inch in size, as the patch radiates outward, the central part gets healed and a red ring around it remains active. When dry scaling and fissuring of the skin occurs on the feet between the toes or on the arch, it is termed as athlete's foot. The patients suffering from the athlete's foot also have the likelihood to develop an allergic dermatitis or the skin inflammation. The use of over-the-counter antifungal creams or solutions, applied once or twice daily, may yield fruitful results, but in case of its failure, a systematic oral medication is carried out with some sufficiently powerful oral agents. However, for the prevention of the reinfection of the athlete's foot, clotrimazole powder is usually applied to the shoes.

Melanoma

This least common and the most deadly form of skin cancer has, unfortunately, been increasing over the period of previous some decades, and has become the most common type of cancer diagnosed in women between ages 29 and 34. As the very name suggests, melanoma develops from the melanin pigment producing skin cells, called Melanocytes. The symptoms of melanoma are associated with any changes in a mole's appearance that are characterized by the acronym ABCD. Here A stands for "asymmetrical shape"; B for "border irregularity"; C for "color variation"; and D for "diameter larger than a pencil eraser". So, in this disease, an irregularly shaped flat spot or raised bump appears on the skin which can be blue, black, brown, red, tan, white or even multicolored, and it can occasionally be itchy, tender, oozing or bleeding. If such a spot is formed on the iris or sclera of the eye, it may result in pain and redness in the affected eye and the gradual loss of vision. The successful and commonly applied remedial measures include the surgical removal of melanoma, and the application of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, laser surgery and cryosurgery, where in the last case liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the targeted tissue.

Acne

In this case, inflammation around the sebaceous glands causes mild skin eruptions which can occasionally be severe. The blockage in the flow of sebum a thick and oily substance that lubricates the skin leads to the development of acne, particularly on the face, upper chest and back. The blockage in the flow of sebum is caused by the skins cells, dried sebum or even bacteria. The partial or incomplete obstruction triggers the formation of blackheads or dark-colored bumps, while complete stoppage, on the other hand, ends up with the appearance of whiteheads or light-colored bumps. The blackheads and whiteheads are then infected by bacteria found on the surface of the skin, thus producing pus and causing eruption to convert them into pimples. In the severe cases of cystic acne, there develop painful purple lumps and clusters of red inflamed pustules. There can be still another condition of chronic acne which involves pockmarks and scarring of the affected skin. For treatment, the affected individuals are advised to wash their face with unscented soap to remove excessive oil but, at the same time, over-washing is to be avoided. The application of topical solutions and the topical administration of various synthetic forms of vitamin A may bring improvement in acne. However, in more severe cases, the skin specialists are likely to advise oral antibiotics also. After the successful cure of acne, the leftover scars can be eliminated via the laser surgery or dermabrasion, that is, a skin resurfacing procedure.

Psoriasis

Characterized by the patches of raised, red bumps covered with white, flaking scales, psoriasis is one of the common and persistent skin diseases. Though it may affect any area of the skin, the typical cases involve the scalp, knees, navel, folds of the skin and elbows. The process for the development of the disorder typically takes 28 days during which new cells are produced at an accelerated rate in the deepest layer of the skin. The newly produced cells then move to the top layer or the epidermis within three to four days, where the accumulation of excess cells causes the characteristic scaly plaques. Common symptoms include the formation of painful and often itchy patches of red, raised plaques with silvery white flaking scales. In severe case, the patient may also suffer from the joint pain, stiffness, and pitted, thickened or discolored nails. For diagnosis, the skin specialists take help from physical examination and biopsy, and treatment involves the prescription of moisturizing skin creams, and ointments to prevent the dryness of the skin and control the psoriasis lesions. In severe cases, the doctors may suggest phototherapy or photo-chemotherapy, and the administration of immunosuppressive or antiproliferative drugs.

Warts

Caused by the infection of the Human Papilloma-Virus (HPV), warts are the common and usually benign unwanted growths on the skin. Commonly appearing on the hands, face, elbows and the soles of the feet, warts may also affect genitals and their various types are named after their physical appearance and location. Different types of warts include common warts, plantar warts, periungual warts, digitate warts, filiform warts, flat warts, and so on. The common warts are found on the hands and fingers, while the plantar warts are located on the soles of the feet. Those occurring around the nails of fingers and toes are periungual, whereas digitate warts are the small fingerlike projections appearing on the scalp and face. Likewise, the filiform warts affect the face and neck and flat warts may occur in a group of up to as many as seven hundred at a time. In color and texture, these may be dark or pale, and smooth, rough, raised or flat. Sometimes looking like thin hornlike projections, the warts may also involve bleeding or itching. The bodies of the healthy people usually develop immune response to both genital and non-genital warts which disappear automatically within the period of six months to three years. However, they may also be treated through cryosurgery and destroyed with the application of caustic chemical solutions. In some cases, the doctors may also go for laser therapy and electrocautery, where in the latter case the warts are burned off with an electric current.

Vitiligo

Though Vitiligo does not involve any health risk, but it is indeed a psychologically distressing disorder of the skin, and is characterized by the patchy depigmentation of skin due to the loss of Melanocytes. Melanocytes are found in the upper most layer or epidermis of your skin and are responsible for the synthesis of a dark colored pigment which not only contributes towards the dark coloration of your body skin but also saves you from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiations. In this disease, the Melanocytes are lost due to the autoimmune disorder in which your body’s immune system mistakenly starts destroying the Melanocytes, thus depriving the skin of melanin pigments. The condition may affect an individual with any skin color, but it is more apparent in those with darker skin. Regarding symptoms, the victims show irregular patches of depigmented, white skin that are commonly located on the face, hands, groin and folds of skin. For treatment, the dermatologists suggest avoiding exposure to sunlight and the use of sunscreen lotions with the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher value. Other curative measures include topical medications for repigmentation and the over-the-counter cosmetic creams and dyes to cover depigmented areas with a color that matches your skin tone.

Eczema

Also known as dermatitis, eczema is one of the most common inflammatory skin conditions where, in the acute phase, the victims develop red raised lesions, oozing and crusting. At this stage, the patients are advised to avoid rubbing or scratching which may lead to the chronic stage of the disease, characterized by the red, darkened, thickened and scaly patches of the skin. On the basis of the particular cause and appearance, different types of eczema have been identified and all the cases are usually very itchy and red and may spread and worsen with scratching. More precisely, the symptoms involve irritating patches of dry, swollen, scaly, rough, cracked and reddened skin visible on the scalp, legs, ears, nose, arms and certain other areas of the body. Fortunately, eczema does not pose any serious health risk and the symptoms can easily be relieved with the application of over the counter creams and ointments. However, in the severe cases of secondary bacterial and viral infections, antibiotics and other medications may be recommended for topical or oral administration.

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