Skin Disorders

Reviewed by Linda Nelson

There are about 37 million visits to the dermatologist's office each year by people seeking help for skin disorders. Skin disorder symptoms typically include flaking skin, red splotches, or uneven white patches on the face.

While the cause of many skin disorders is not known, some conditions can be traced to genetics, allergic reactions, stress, or autoimmune disease. Some of the most common disorders include adult acne, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo.


More than 13 million people suffer from rosacea. The condition is common to both men and women who have pale complexions and tend to blush frequently.

If you have rosacea, your face typically has a flushed, reddened appearance. This is often accompanied by visibly enlarged blood vessels and recurring pimples. If rosacea progresses, the nose may thicken to produce another condition called rhinophyma.

The appearance of rosacea may be confused with adult acne.

Treatments for rosacea include the use of topical and oral antibiotics. More recently, laser treatments have been used to reduce the appearance of noticeable blood vessels and redness in the face.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

People with seborrheic dermatitis are typically between ages 30 and 60. Children under 3 are also susceptible to this skin condition. Seborrheic dermatitis occurs more frequently in men.

Seborrheic dermatitis produces flaking skin on the face or other areas of the body. It may appear as dandruff on adults or cradle cap on babies. Seborrheic dermatitis may also cause a greasy appearance on the affected skin.

Treatment for adults includes steroid solutions and creams as well as prescription shampoos for dandruff.


More than 4.5 million people are affected by psoriasis. The condition typically occurs between ages 15 and 35.

Psoriasis includes five different types: plague, guttate, pustular, inverse, and erythrodermic. Each may produce intense inflammation, redness, and scaling of the skin.

Psoriasis is most common in the knees, elbows, stomach, feet, hands, and face. Psoriasis can cause infection, fluid loss, and poor circulation.

Treatment for psoriasis ranges from topical applications including steroids and salicylic acid; to phototherapy (UVB and PUVA light treatments); to biologic and systematic medications for more serious cases.


Eczema is another common skin condition that affects adults and children. You may suffer from one of many types of eczema:

  • Atopic Eczema, Allergic Contact Dermatitis and Irritant Contact Dermatitis Eczema: Signs may include intolerable itching, redness, and inflammation.
  • Infantile Seborrhoeic Eczema: More commonly known as cradle cap, symptoms may appear as matted dandruff on the scalp and outlying areas.
  • Adult Seborrhoeic Eczema: Identified as dandruff, this condition is often accompanied by some redness and flaking.
  • Varicose Eczema: This condition includes freckled, red, and inflamed skin on the legs and ankles.
  • Discoid Eczema: This emerges as circular areas of redness that can become scratchy and ooze fluid.

The treatment for eczema varies depending on the type. Some treatments include emollients, steroids, anti-fungal cream, and moisturizers. Your doctor may suggest that you get rid of potential eczema irritants such as detergents or perfumes that cause allergic reactions.


Between two million and five million Americans are affected by vitiligo. Vitiligo may appear in childhood. Adult onset generally occurs in men and women in their late 30s.

Vitiligo appears as white patchy areas of the skin. It is caused by pigmentation breakdown in different areas of the body. This condition can also affect hair, causing it to turn white.

Treatment options range from topical or oral steroids to photochemotherapy. Surgical intervention is also an option, including skin grafting and melanocyte transplants.

Consult a Qualified Doctor

If you have any skin disorder symptoms, consult a qualified doctor. A physician or dermatologist can diagnose your condition and suggest appropriate treatment.

About the Reviewer of This Article

Linda Nelson is the director of education for ZO SKIN HEALTH, by Zein Obagi, MD. She is based in Irvine, Calif.