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Overview of Dermatology

The skin is the largest organ of the body and is the most visible. Although many skin diseases are isolated, some are manifestations of an internal disease. Skin problems are common in people of all ages. Whether you suffer with a rash, itchy skin, skin fungus or infection, skin bumps, or skin tags, there are treatments available for a variety of skin diseases.

The skin is made up of the outer epidermis, the underlying dermis, and the basement layer, called the hypodermis. The skin helps us to regulate the body temperature and also to sense our surroundings. The Skin acts as an eliminating organ and is, in fact, the largest eliminating organ of the body. Through its pores, the skin excretes several toxins, allergens and other unwanted substances. It weighs about 6-9 pounds and boasts of a surface area of two square yards.

Skin disorders are usually related to the epidermal layer of skin. This layer serves as a barrier to infection causing agents. Skin diseases, which occur secondary to systemic diseases are not included among dermatosis. Dermatosis is the generic term given to any disease of the skin. Plurally it is referred to as 'dermatoses'. This term should not be confused with dermatitis, which is an inflammation of the skin.

Throughout the body, the skin's characteristics vary (i.e., thickness, color, texture). For instance, the head contains more hair follicles than anywhere else, while the soles of the feet contain none. In addition, the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands have much thicker layers.

The skin is made up of the following layers, with each layer performing specific functions:

  • Epidermis
  • Dermis
  • Fat layer

The epidermis is the thin outer layer of the skin. The epidermis itself is made up of three sub-layers:

  • Stratum Corneum (Horny Layer) - This layer contains continually shedding, dead keratinocytes (the primary cell type of the epidermis). The keratin, a protein formed from the dead cells, protects the skin from harmful substances.
  • Keratinocytes (Squamous Cells) - This layer contains living keratinocytes (squamous cells), which help provide the skin with what it needs to protect the rest of the body.
  • Basal Layer - The basal layer is the inner layer of the epidermis, containing basal cells. Basal cells continually divide, forming new keratinocytes and replacing the old ones that are shed from the skin's surface. The epidermis also contains melanocytes, which are cells that produce melanin (skin pigment).

The dermis is the middle layer of the skin. The dermis is made up of the following:

  • Blood vessels
  • Lymph vessels
  • Hair follicles
  • Sweat glands

The dermis is held together by a protein called collagen, made by fibroblasts (skin cells that give the skin its strength and resilience). This layer also contains pain and touch receptors.

The subcutis is the deepest layer of skin and is also known as the subcutaneous layer. The subcutis, consisting of a network of collagen and fat cells, helps conserve the body's heat while protecting other organs from injury by acting as a "shock absorber."

Skin diseases are usually caused by infection with viral or bacterial organisms. Another reason for skin diseases is that it can occur due the imbalance in the physiological condition of the skin. Sometimes chemical agents may be responsible for skin diseases and allergies. If there is prolonged contact or contact with excess amount of strong chemicals, it can even result in poisoning. On the other hand, use of appropriate personal protection like gloves or overalls can help protect from developing skin ailments.

Holistic Dermatology is the treatment of skin disease in the context of the whole individual. The health of the skin is a reflection of the health of the entire physiology. Similarly, diseases of the skin are the result of imbalances of the whole body.

Effective holistic and medical solutions to "acne" and "wrinkles" and everything in between, such as, acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, skin cancer, and sun protection can be addressed holistically as well as traditionally. Aging, wrinkled, dry, sensitive and oily skin can be treated in-depth. There is a range of effective solutions for age spots, athlete's foot, body odor, dandruff, hair loss, hives, itching, nail problems, rosacea, scars, shingles, sunburn, spider veins, warts, and many other conditions.

Common Skin Conditions

Patients Medical’s Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Azfar & Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Adam Schaffner, see a wide array of skin conditions due to disease, age, sun exposure and many other factors. Some of the most common conditions seen at Patients Medical include: