These skin issues are often minor, but if they persist they may be a sign of something serious.
Even a small patch of itchy skin can make your life miserable. If you give in to temptation and scratch, the itching only worsens and becomes even harder to ignore. Although itchiness or other skin issues such as bumps, sores or rashes, are usually due to something minor, they may be a sign of something serious. That’s why it’s a good idea to call your dermatologist if you notice any changes in your skin that persist, get worse or go away and come back again.
Here are some common skin issues to pay attention to:
Itching can be caused by dry skin, insect bites, irritating fabrics or even perfumed laundry detergent. If the itching is accompanied by redness, eczema or other chronic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or psoriasis may be to blame.
An itchy mole may be a symptom of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Itching may also occur in squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers. Symptoms of these cancers can be easy to overlook and may seem fairly minor at first. In addition to itching, you may notice flaky or crusty patches of skin or rounded red bumps that never seem to go away. Itching may also be a sign of leukemia, lymphoma, gallbladder cancer or chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease or liver disease.
Some causes of bumps on your skin include acne (no matter what your age), rosacea (a condition that can cause facial flushing and pimples), insect bites, ingrown hairs or skin cancer. Although insect bites and ingrown hairs usually improve on their own, your dermatologist can offer treatments for other conditions that cause skin bumps. If you have a bump that doesn’t go away or that changes in shape or color, see your doctor.
Sores usually begin healing almost as soon as they first appear on your skin. Sores that don’t heal, heal very slowly or return are a cause for concern. They may be a sign that you have diabetes, poor blood circulation, immune system problems or skin cancer.
Rashes can occur if you have an allergic reaction to a food, medicine or substance that comes in contact with your skin, such as jewelry or perfume. Other causes can include shingles, poison ivy, heat rash, eczema, scabies, psoriasis, athlete’s foot or insect bites. If you have a rash that is accompanied by a fever, doesn’t go away quickly, covers a large portion of your body or spreads rapidly, see a doctor.
Moles are often not a cause for concern. But if the color, shape or size of a mole changes, it could be a sign of melanoma. Mole borders might also look rough or blurred, or one side of the mole may be bigger than the other. Melanoma can cause moles to itch, ooze, hurt, bleed or flake. Don’t ignore a mole that is irregular in shape or color, grows quickly or changes in other noticeable ways.
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Date Last Reviewed: March 4, 2020
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD