A skin disease is a disease which involves the skin. Specialists in these diseases are known as dermatologists, and diseases of the skin are quite diverse, making plenty of work available in the field of dermatology. Many people experience a skin disease at some point in their lives, since the skin is the body's largest organ and it is rather exposed, greatly increasing its risk of becoming diseased or damaged.
Because the skin is a highly visible organ, diseases are often caught early by sharp-eyed patients who take note of changes in their skin. Skin disease can also unfortunately be a cause of humiliation or embarrassment, thanks to its highly visible nature.
Some skin diseases are congenital, meaning that they are caused by genetics. Harlequin ichthyosis, a painful disease which causes the skin to blister, discolor, and scale, is an example of a congenital skin condition. Management of such diseases is often focused on keeping the patient comfortable and dealing with the symptoms, as the disease may not be curable.
Other skin diseases are acquired, as in the case of infections which target the skin. Bacteria and fungi are especially fond of causing skin infections, which can vary from impetigo on the face to athlete's foot between the toes. These conditions can typically be treated with the application of medications. Insect bites, contact with various substances, and allergic reactions can all cause diseases of the skin.
Skin diseases can also reflect more serious medical problems. Eczema, for example, is a common problem for people with allergies, as are hives. Skin diseases can be caused by cancers, hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and a host of other problems. All told, there are thousands of recognized skin conditions in the world, although only a fraction of this number routinely pop up. Variations on acne, for example, are a leading cause of trips to the dermatologist.
Depending on the nature of the skin disease, a variety of symptoms may manifest. The skin may change color or texture, or it may become hot, swollen, or slimy to the touch. Changes in the skin should be closely monitored, as some diseases can be very dangerous, and can also be a sign of an underlying medical problem. If a condition appears to be growing rapidly worse or it does not resolve within a week, a trip to a dermatologist or general practitioner is highly advised to determine what is causing the disease, and how it can be treated.