Common Causes of Skin Disease

Skin disease can be caused by a variety of things, including stress, diet, and weather extremes. It can also be triggered by infections, irritants or allergens.


A person may have a rash or changes in the appearance of their skin, which can be itchy and irritated. A doctor can use a test to find out what’s causing the skin change.


A skin disease is a health problem that affects the surface of your skin. It is one of the most common types of illness and can be caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites.

Normally, the skin is a good barrier against infection. But sometimes bacteria, like staphylococcus aureus (staph) or streptococci (strep), can get through the skin.

Some of these infections can be serious and need treatment. They can cause fever, high pain and swelling or may even spread to your bloodstream. If not treated, infections can lead to complications and in severe cases, death.

Bacterial infections can affect any part of the body, including your face, ears, eyes and nails. They can develop after cuts or scratches, a burn or wound on the skin, an animal bite or a skin disorder.

People who have weakened immune systems, such as those with diabetes or HIV, are more at risk of developing a bacterial skin infection. They can also be more at risk for developing a fungal skin infection, such as athlete’s foot.

Most bacterial skin infections need antibiotics to treat them, but some can’t be treated with medication and need to be treated with surgery or other medical procedures. Your doctor can recommend the right medications for your condition.

Parasitic skin infections are also common, and are usually treated with antiparasitic creams. Tiny insects or other organisms that burrow under your skin and lay eggs can cause parasitic infections, such as lice and mites.

Diagnosis of an infection is based on your symptoms, physical exam and laboratory tests. You may need a skin culture, which is a sample of your skin cells that are taken and tested in the lab to find out what type of infection you have.

Your health care provider may use a swab or scraping of your skin, or he may remove a small piece of your skin called a biopsy, to identify the exact bacteria that are causing your infection. The sample can help identify the type of infection you have and what type of antibiotics to take to treat it.


Allergies are a condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly reacts to an otherwise harmless substance, such as grass pollen or animal fur. They may cause a variety of symptoms, from sneezing to wheezing to itchy, watery eyes.

The immune system is made up of a network of cells and organs that are designed to keep germs, bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances from entering the body. It also protects the body from infection by eliminating any microorganisms that do get through.

When you come into contact with a substance that causes allergies, the immune system produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies help your body fight the allergen. They then attack the allergen and destroy it.

This process triggers the release of chemicals such as histamine, which is why allergy symptoms can be so itchy and uncomfortable. In severe cases, this reaction can cause a life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis.

Many people develop allergies because they are genetically predisposed. But they can develop them for other reasons, too.

Allergies are often triggered by certain foods, dust, molds, insects, and pet dander. These things can enter the body through the lungs, throat, sinuses, or skin.

When you come in contact with an allergen, the immune system sends white blood cells to the area that is being affected. These white blood cells produce chemicals such as histamine and inflammatory mediators. These chemicals cause the area to become inflamed, or swollen.

This inflammation is usually localized to the area where the allergen has come in contact with the skin. The resulting red, itchy, or swollen spots are called rashes.

Your doctor may be able to diagnose an allergy by doing skin and blood tests. He or she can also refer you to an allergist, a specialist who specializes in allergies.

The specialist can then design a treatment plan that will address your particular symptoms and give you an idea of how to avoid the allergen. Most people can manage their allergies with a combination of medicines, avoidance, and lifestyle changes.

Allergies are common in the United States, with estimates from public health authorities indicating that as many as 20 percent of adults and children suffer from them. They can be very difficult to live with, but if you work with your doctor and follow your allergy management plan, you will find relief from these irritating symptoms.


A blister is a bubble of fluid that occurs when skin is damaged by friction, cold or chemical exposure. It is filled with blood, pus or serum depending on the underlying cause and location of the blister.

Blisters are a common symptom of skin diseases, which cause the skin to tear or become irritated. They can appear suddenly or be a long-term problem.

Some conditions that cause blisters include burns, scalds, infections and frostbite. They also occur due to contact with allergens.

Friction blisters, which are the most common type, develop when skin is pushed against other skin. This shear stress leads to the tearing of the stratum spinosum (the top layer of the epidermis) and a pocket of plasma-like fluid develops between the skin layers.

These blisters are usually painful and irritate the affected area, but they often heal on their own over a few weeks. If they do not heal, call your doctor.

Infections, such as bullous impetigo, chickenpox and shingles, can cause blisters on the skin or in the mouth. They may be more common in children.

They can also occur as a result of certain types of skin disease, such as ichthyosis and pemphigus. They can be itchy and swollen and may look like fish scales.

If you think you might have a blister infection, ask your doctor about antibiotics and other treatments. You can also use a hydrocolloid dressing to help the blister heal quickly and reduce pain.

It is best to treat the blister in a sterile way. You can use a sterile needle to drain the fluid from the blister. Then you can wash the blister and cover it with a bandage or plaster.

You can also apply a cold or ice pack to the blister, which can help reduce swelling and pain. You should change the bandage or plaster daily and avoid bursting the blister to stop it from getting infected.

Some other conditions that can cause blisters include eczema, which affects the skin and is a long-term condition that is not curable. Eczema rashes may develop hours to days after exposure to an allergen and then ooze out into small blisters that are crusty and red.


Hives are itchy, raised welts or bumps that appear on the skin and sometimes join together to form larger areas called plaques. Most hives fade within 24 hours, but they may last for days or longer.

Most hives develop when mast cells (special immune cells) release chemicals that cause itching, redness and swelling of the skin in an area. This itch and swelling are caused by the body’s natural reaction to a trigger, which may be a virus, an allergen or a hormonal change.

People with hives usually feel a sudden onset of itching, followed by redness and swelling on the skin. They may also have trouble breathing, as the hives can block their airway. If this happens, call your doctor immediately.

A doctor can determine whether hives are acute or chronic, and make a treatment plan for them. They look at the affected area and try to identify the trigger, which can include food allergies or reactions to drugs.

If the trigger is a food allergy, it may be treated with avoiding the offending food or by using medications to relieve symptoms and prevent future reactions. Drug reactions, however, can occur at once or much later, even years after starting the medication.

Some hives may have other causes, so the doctor might need to remove a small sample of skin to get a closer look at it. This is called a skin biopsy and might help your doctor determine the cause of the hives.

Other conditions can produce hives, but these rashes tend to be stable and do not clear up within 24 hours. These rashes may need to be examined under the microscope (biopsy) to determine if they are hives or something else.

The hives most commonly come and go for about 6 weeks, but some people have chronic hives that happen almost daily and do not seem to have a specific cause. This condition is called chronic spontaneous urticaria.

A person can have hives for months or years, and the hives often worsen during the night. This can affect quality of life and lead to stress and anxiety.