7 common Cutaneous Conditions that Needs to be Taken Seriously

Cutaneous condition refers to any medical condition or disease that affects the organs such as skin, nails, hair and muscles. Cutaneous condition can be a disease in itself or an indication of some other systemic illness. Some serious systemic illness that affects vital organs in the body first manifest as a cutaneous condition giving out a warning sign in form of skin infections, rashes, lesion, hair fall or nail changes. Medical practitioners as well as people need to consider any such warning sign appearing as a cutaneous condition seriously so that upcoming chronic illness can diagnosed at an early stage. This article lists down some of the most common cutaneous conditions for which people visit dermatology clinics.

1. Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a common skin inflammatory condition affecting about 12% of people. Seborrheic Dermatitis causes scaly patches on skin that get very itchy. It can affect adults, adolescent as well children, but in varying degree of severity. In adolescents Seborrheic Dermatitis usually occurs in its milder form as dandruff. Seborrheic Dermatitis can also occur in infants and it is known as Cradle cap that causes crusty yellow scaly patches on the scalp. Inflammation of skin is the most common cause of Seborrheic Dermatitis. However, experts believe it may also be caused by other reasons such as fungal infection, low immunity, and high mental stress.  The common symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis include red patches, uneven skin lesions, scaling and itching of skin. In infants Seborrheic Dermatitis manifests as thick greasy scales on the vertex of scalp. In most cases the lesions of Seborrheic Dermatitis clear on their own. However since it has a chance of relapse, some treatment modalities such as topical antifungals, corticosteroids, and anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended. 

2. Scaring Alopecia

Scarring Alopecia refers to a hair and skin condition that causes inflammation and subsequent destruction of hair follicles. Scarring alopecia can affect about 3% to 7% of adults who are otherwise healthy. Since there is no chance for hair re-growth in Scarring Alopecia it causes total baldness and therefore is associated with lot of mental distress. Scaring Alopecia that is caused due to inflammation is called primary Scaring Alopecia whereas alopecia caused by factors such as burns, trauma or cancer is called as secondary Scarring Alopecia. The treatment options for Scarring Alopecia include oral corticosteroids, retinoids or antimalarial drugs which are mainly to reduce the inflammation. Surgical hair transplantation to cover bald patches is recommended only if the inflammation is under control.

3. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is one of the most common skin diseases observed in the dermatology clinical settings. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. The body does not shed these excess skin cells naturally and thus leads to build-up of skin layers. The prevalence of psoriasis is about 2 to 3%.  Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol intake, intake of fatty food, etc. can trigger psoriasis. Some experts suggest that stress too can cause psoriasis. Psoriasis causes dry and rough patches on the skin that get very itchy. The red coloured patches of psoriasis appear visually unpleasing and so is a cause of embarrassment. Although there is no definitive cure for psoriasis some lifestyle measures such as diet changes, herbal lepams, and some emollients can help to confine the skin patches.

4. Folliculitis Decalvans

Folliculitis Decalvans is an inflammatory condition of the scalp that can result in hair loss of scarring type. The inflammation to the hair follicles results in pustules that are itchy, show crusting and may cause spontaneous bleeding. It can affect men as well as women; however men show an early onset of the disease where as women develop it only after the age of 40 years. Infection due to Staphylococcus aureus along with poor immunity and an inflammatory response are thought to be the causes. Since the exact cause is unknown, the treatment becomes difficult. There is no specific cure to Folliculitis Decalvans but the disease can be restrained to smaller patches with topical antiseptics, topical and oral antibiotics.   

5. Pseudopelade

Pseudopelade of Brocq is a rare scalp condition that causes scarring alopecia resulting in bald patches. It is seen more commonly in women who are in their 40s. It begins with small bald patches on the scalp that are irregular in shape. As the condition progresses the small bald patches fuse together to form a bigger bald patch that gives appearance of ‘footprints in the snow. Although it’s a chronic progressive disorder, it usually clears on its own. There is no definitive treatment for the condition; however the progression can be controlled using medications such as corticosteroids, prednisone, isotretinoin and intralesional steroid injections. Since the hair loss is of scarring type, hair regrowth is not possible.

6. Tinea Captis

Tinea Capitis also known commonly as the ringworm infection is a fungal infection that affects scalp skin and hair follicles. It is one of the most common scalp skin infections that affect nearly 20 to 25% of people. Tinea Capitis is highly contagious and can easily be spread from close contact with the infected person or on sharing things such as combs, towels, caps or other hygiene items. Children are more likely to develop the tinea infection; however, it is observed in adults too. The fungal infection appears as ring-shaped, scaly, red rashes that cause itching. The diagnosis of Tinea Capitis includes careful examination of scalp, hair analysis under UV light and fungal culture analysis to find out the causative fungal species. The treatment options include a course of oral antifungals for about 4 weeks. The use of antifungal shampoo is also recommended to prevent the spread of infection.

7. Scalp Folliculitis

Scalp Folliculitis refers to an infection of scalp and hair follicles caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In any type of infection, Scalp Folliculitis is presented as small red bump around the hair root that gets painful and itchy. It often gets very troublesome especially when the red pustules appear on the frontal hairline. Although microbial infection is the most common cause of Scalp Folliculitis, other factors such as excessive use of hair cosmetics, using public swimming pools, sharing other hygiene items, or low immunity can increase the chances of Scalp Folliculitis. The treatment for Scalp Folliculitis depends upon the severity of condition. Since Scalp Folliculitis is mainly caused due to microbial infection, oral and topical antimicrobials are given to cure the infection. In addition, topical steroids and antihistamines are prescribed to reduce itching and inflammation. 

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