Many skin disorders can affect several or all areas of the body surface at once. Some of these disorders have a strong inherited component, but often the cause of a particular condition is not known. Not all generalized skin problems are curable – some recur intermittently throughout life – but most can be controlled effectively with treatment and self-help measures.
Most generalized skin disorders do not pose a serious threat to health, but chronic conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, can affect the quality of life and require long-term treatment. Other disorders cause only temporary discomfort and often clear up without treatment. Some conditions are the result of an allergy to substances such as drugs and disappear after the cause has been identified and eliminated.
The articles in this section discuss disorders that cause widespread rashes, itching, flaking, or blistering. Disorders that affect particular areas of skin are discussed elsewhere (see Localized skin conditions, and Skin infections and infestations). Disorders that affect the skin of children are discussed in a separate section (see Infancy and childhood). Rashes that affect the skin as part of an infectious disease, such as rubella or measles, are also found elsewhere (see Infections and infestations).
For further information on the structure and function of the skin.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.