The Causes Of Skin Conditions


A skin condition (cutaneous condition) is any medical condition that affects the integumentary system, which includes the skin, nails, and related muscles and glands. This system's primary function is to act as a barrier against the outside environment.

What are the most common skin conditions?

Common skins conditions include:


Psoriasis is a skin condition characterised by flaky patches of skin covered in scales. The patches on brown, black, and white skin can appear pink or red, and the scales white or silvery. The patches on brown and black skin can also appear purple or dark brown, and the scales can appear grey. These patches are most commonly found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back, but they can appear anywhere on your body.


Acne is a common skin condition that affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. It causes spots, oily skin, and sometimes hot or painful skin to touch. Acne is most commonly found on the face, back, and chest. Acne causes six different types of spots:

  • Blackheads: small black or yellowish bumps - they are black because the inner lining of the hair follicle
  • Whiteheads: resemble blackheads but are firmer and do not empty when squeezed
  • Papules: resemble blackheads but are firmer and do not empty when squeezed
  • Pustules: similar to papules, but with a white tip in the centre caused by pus buildup
  • Nodules: large hard lumps that form beneath the skin's surface and can be painful
  • Cysts: the most severe type of acne spot - they are large pus-filled lumps that resemble boils and pose the greatest risk of permanent scarring

Allergies causing skin conditions

A skin allergy occurs when the skin becomes irritated as a result of the immune system's reaction to something that is normally harmless. Rash, itching, burning, redness, bumps, hives (raised, flat, itchy bumps), and swelling can all be symptoms of an allergic reaction. A variety of allergens can cause a reaction. 

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a skin condition in which the skin becomes easily irritated, itchy, and dry. It is the most common allergic skin condition and affects children more than adults. Eczema is caused by both genetic (parental) and environmental factors. Asthma, food allergies, and seasonal allergies are all linked to it. Certain foods, stress, soaps and lotions, and cold and dry air can all aggravate eczema. The reaction may occur immediately or up to 48 hours after your skin has been exposed to whatever is causing it to react.

Allergic contact dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a particular substance comes into contact with the skin and causes a reaction. Some people, for example, are allergic to the metal nickel and will develop a skin reaction if nickel jewellery comes into contact with their skin. Another example is a reaction to poison ivy and poison oak plants.


Urticaria, also known as hives, are raised bumps on the skin caused by an allergic reaction. These bumps are also referred to as welts or wheals. A person may develop hives after eating a food to which they are allergic. The bumps are caused by histamine, which the body produces in response to the allergen. Other allergies, such as a bug bite, can cause hives too.


Angioedema is a type of swelling that occurs deep within the skin. It frequently occurs on the eyelids, lips, and throat and is frequently associated with hives. When it occurs in the throat, it is considered an emergency because the swelling makes breathing difficult. Allergens cause a rash that is often itchy but also painful. The rash may have raised bumps as well as blisters.


There are many different types of autoimmune skin disease, including:

  • behcet's disease
  • dermatitis herpetiformis
  • dermatomyositis
  • lichen planus
  • linear IgA disease
  • lupus of the skin
  • scleroderma
  • pemphigoid
  • pemphigus
  • vasculitis

These wide varieties of autoimmune diseases can cause different symptoms, including rashes, scaly patches, blisters, lesions, and fatigue. 

Underlying illness

Meningitis is a serious condition and is due to an inflammation of the meninges (membranes covering the spinal cord and brain). There are many symptoms which can appear in any order, but in the early stage, there might be the development of rashes. The rash typically begins as small, red pinpricks before rapidly spreading and transforming into red or purple blotches. When you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin, it does not fade. On dark skin, the rash may be more difficult to see. 

Sun exposure

Photoageing refers to skin damage caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight. UV rays cause fine and coarse wrinkles, irregular pigmentation, large freckle-like spots known as lentigines, a yellowish complexion, and a leathery, rough skin texture. People who spend a lot of time in the sun are more likely to develop pre-cancerous growths and skin cancers like squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Moles are common skin cancer symptoms.

Exposure to certain chemicals

Some chemicals can enter the body through the skin and cause damage to specific organs or groups of organs. Absorption of workplace chemicals through the skin can result in diseases and disorders such as occupational skin diseases. They can take various forms, such as irritant contact dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis, skin cancer, infections, skin abrasions, and other skin conditions. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by a chemical that directly damages and inflames the skin. Whereas allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a chemical absorbed by the skin triggers an allergic reaction in the body's immune system. The symptoms of chemically induced dermatitis are similar to contact dermatitis. 


Skin conditions can affect the skin, nails, and related muscles and glands. The integumentary system's primary function is to protect the body against external elements. There are various types of skin conditions. Some of the most common ones include psoriasis, acne, skin allergies, atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, urticaria, angioedema, autoimmune skin disease, meningitis, photoageing, and exposure to certain chemicals. Each condition has its own set of symptoms and treatments, and it is essential to seek medical advice to diagnose and treat any skin condition properly.


  1. Autoimmune Skin Disease. University of Utah Health | University of Utah Health [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Apr 11].
  2. Psoriasis. [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2023 Apr 11].
  3. Skin Allergy | Dermatology. [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 11].
  4. Skin Exposures and Effects | NIOSH | CDC [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Apr 11].

Misha Siddiqui

Master's degree, Integrated immunology, University of Oxford, England

2nd year PhD candidate at institute of cancer research and AstraZeneca applying deep learning to understanding immunometabolism using multi-omics. I have a masters in integrated immunology from the university of oxford and undergraduate in applied medical sciences from UCL. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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