There are several different diseases that affect the nails, often as a result of a fungal or bacterial infection. Ingrown toenails are the most common nail ailment, involving the corners of the nails digging into the surrounding soft tissue, causing irritation and swelling. Fungal infections commonly affect the toenails (and sometimes the fingernails as well), as a result of exposure to a warm, moist environment, and cause thick, brittle and distorted nails.
Treatment for nail diseases may include oral or topical medications. The nail may need to be removed for severe infections. Patients can prevent nail conditions from developing by keeping the feet clean and dry, wearing shoes that fit well and clipping toenails straight across.
Poison ivy is a common plant that grows like weeds across the ground or like vines up a tree. Poison ivy contains urushiol, a type of oil that causes an allergic reaction in most people when it contacts the skin, causing a red, itchy rash. A poison ivy rash usually develops on the skin within one to two days after coming in contact with the plant, and begins as a red, swollen area that eventually develops blisters and starts to itch.
Poison ivy usually goes away on its own within a week, although larger affected areas may take longer to clear up. Patients can help relieve symptoms of poison ivy by using over-the-counter medications such as hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, antihistamines and oatmeal baths.
Psoriasis is a group of chronic skin disorders that cause itching and/or burning, scaling and crusting of the skin. Over seven million men and women in the U.S. of all ages have some form of psoriasis, which may be mild, moderate or severe. The most commonly affected areas are the scalp, elbows, knees, hands, feet and genitals.
Psoriasis cannot be cured but it can be treated successfully, sometimes for months or years at a time and occasionally even permanently. Treatment depends on the type, severity and location of psoriasis. The most common treatments are topical medications, phototherapy, photochemotherapy (PUVA), and oral or injectable medication (for severe symptoms).
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Risk factors include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
The most common skin cancers are:
Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician.
Skin growths are non-cancerous bumps that appear on or below the surface of the skin, which may include seborrheic keratoses, lipomas, neurofibromas, cysts and others. These growths are usually small and round, may be hard or soft, and are sometimes painful. They may be caused by an infection, blocked hair follicle or may be hereditary.
While not usually of medical concern, many patients are bothered by the appearance of these growths, and seek treatment to have them removed. This can usually be done through surgical excision, cryosurgery or curettage. Most growths do not return after treatment.
Skin Infections are most commonly caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Impetigo is a superficial infection caused by staph or strep and folliculitus is a superficial infection of the hair follicle. Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus, shingles by varicella zoster virus and warts by human papilloma virus. People with skin diseases such as eczema may be more likely to develop superinfections as their skin barrier may be impaired.