We all grow older and as we age the years-and what we’ve done with them-has a tendency to reveal themselves on our skin. Diet, environment, illnesses, even sleeping patterns will affect the skin as people age. Skin discoloration is the most common result. Most discoloration is harmless, but some can be serious—even life-threatening.
In all cases, whether the discoloration is more of a cosmetic problem than a medical one, a doctor should be consulted.
The most common skin problems are treatable. The most serious—and dangerous—skin condition is listed first.
Some people really have the blues. But it’s no joke. If you—or someone you know—has this condition go to an emergency room now. Don’t even bother finishing this article, just grab what you need and get to a doctor immediately.
Blue skin is a symptom of cyanosis—a lack of oxygen in the blood. It will not correct itself. It’s a major medical emergency and will lead to major organ failures, toxic poisoning and finally death.
The first symptoms of cyanosis are blue lips and the nails. By the time you see the skin turning blue you may have less than 24 hours to live.
Milky white skin patches
Vitiligo is a condition where the skin loses cells that produce melanin. How much melanin is present in the skin is what gives the skin its color. The late Michael Jackson suffered from severe vitiglio.
Although no cure exists for the condition, it is not debilitating or life-threatening.
The loss of pigmentation can sometimes be slowed down, even halted. Vitiligo can also be covered up, depending upon its severity. Creams and certain sunscreens can help slow the condition and keep it from spreading.
Medical treatments for the more pronounced cases offer an array of therapeutic lotions and UV therapy. Normal skin can also be “de-pigmented” to make it uniform in appearance with affected areas. Michael Jackson chose that approach.
Age Spots (also called “liver spots”)
Although considered by many to be a natural part of aging, age spots do not appear in everyone. There are 80 and 90 year old people that don’t suffer from this skin disorder.
The spots appear as light to dark brown in color and are like large, flat freckles. They normally appear on the backs of the hand first, and other areas of the skin that had the most exposure to sunlight over a period of 60 to 70 years. Other than the hands, the spots can also appear on the face, neck and shoulders. Depending on lifestyle and cumulative exposure to sun rays, they can also appear on the tops of the feet and the lower legs.
Products are available that can help to fade age spots such as lightening or bleaching creams and lotions. Consult with a dermatologist. Sometimes, age spots ate a precursor to skin cancer.
Tinea Versicolor (a fungal skin infection)
This skin disorder, caused by a fungus, causes tiny patches of skin to become discolored and itch. If exposed to the sun the affected areas will increase in size.
Creams and lotions are available at the drugstore. Ask your pharmacist’s advice if you think you have the condition. If the case is a stubborn one and the fungus cannot be killed over a few weeks, consult with a doctor.
Prescription medications are available that will effectively treat the fungal infection. Even after it’s gone, it might return during periods of high humidity and hot weather.
Blotchy, reddened skin
Quite a number of people from their early teens through early twenties have ongoing bouts with acne. Of course, acne can cause blotchy, reddened skin. But if the condition is not acne-related, then the disorder may be dermatitis, a rash that appears from the skin reacting to allergens. Dermatitis can be set-off by food allergies, or a reaction to substances that have contacted the skin like cosmetics, soaps, even certain fragrances.
If acne and dermatitis are not the culprits, then the redness could be rosacea. Although this skin disorder is treatable, it is not curable.
In all cases, if you have blotchy, reddened skin consult with a dermatologist who will diagnose the disorder and prescribe an effective regimen of treatment.