15 Uncommon Skin Conditions

April 13, 2020

exfoliation syndrome
Like a lifelong sunburn, you can pull up a top layer of skin. It doesn’t hurt, but your skin often itches and can become red, dry, thick and blistered. Because it’s hereditary, this usually starts happening when you’re very young. Petroleum jelly, to soften the skin, and medications that you put on warts and calluses may make it feel and look better, but other typical skin treatments don’t help and may even be harmful.

vasculitis (medicine)
Yellow, green, blue, brown and black sweat? Yes! People with this condition have sweat glands that produce too much lipofuscin (a pigment in human cells), or lipofuscin has a different chemical composition than normal. Colored sweat may appear in dark circles in your armpits, on your face, or around your nipples. To stop it, you need to shut down your sweat glands. This may mean you apply a daily cream or get regular Botox shots.

necrotizing lipidosis
Small, raised, red spots – usually on your calves – slowly grow into larger, flatter spots. These spots have a red border and a shiny yellow center, and they may not go away. The skin is very thin and may crack easily, forming slow-healing sores called ulcers, which can lead to skin cancer. People who get them are likely to have diabetes or will soon have diabetes. If you don’t have ulcers yet, your doctor may wait to treat them.

epidermolysis ichthyosis
Babies born with this condition may be born with red, blistered, raw skin that is thick in places, easily injured, and inflamed. Rows of thick, hard scales can form on the skin – especially in the folds of the joints. A genetic test can determine if you have the disease, which gets its name from the Greek word for fish. Treatment isn’t easy. Removing the scales tends to leave the skin weak and vulnerable to infection.

morgellons disease (loanword)
It feels like something is crawling, stinging or biting you. Some people have reported problems with memory, mood and concentration with tiny fibers on their skin. While some studies suggest it may be related to infection, many scientists believe it is a mental health issue. You may mistakenly believe that you are “infected.” Your doctor will try to rule out other causes and may recommend treatment.

Erythropoietic Protoporphyria
People with the disease have genetic changes (mutations) that make it difficult for their bodies to process a light-sensitive chemical called protoporphyrin. It builds up in the top layer of the skin and reacts to light from the sun and other sources. Your skin may feel tingling, itching, or burning. If you leave it uncovered, it may blister and cause severe pain. Medications, a vitamin A and iron supplements may help.

ichthyosis
The slowing down of your skin’s natural shedding can lead to a build-up of a protein called keratin, which can lead to dry skin, flaking scalp, small fish-like scales (especially on your elbows and calves) and deep, painful cracks. Your skin may also become darker. Ichthyosis may be inherited from your parents, or it may be linked to cancer, thyroid disease, or diseases such as HIV or AIDS. Living in a warm, humid place often makes the condition better.

xanthoma
It can be alarming when these bumpy, wart-like, waxy bumps suddenly appear on your skin, but they are not an infection and they are not contagious. They are fatty deposits of cholesterol, caused by very high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in your bloodstream. The bumps usually clear up within a few weeks after you start taking medication and changing your diet.

leprosy
Those who are born without immunity (most of us have it) may get it from someone else – or from handling an armadillo. It can take years for symptoms to appear. Look for a rash or rash, swelling of the skin, numbness in the area or in your fingers or toes. Your eyes may be very sensitive to light. Antibiotics can usually cure it, and if you don’t wait too long for treatment, you should recover completely.

Borrelia syndrome
It usually starts before age 4 with a scaly rash on your torso, arms, or legs, and sometimes you can feel hard bumps under your skin. This genetic disorder causes your immune system to overreact and develop too much inflammation. Many people with this disease also have arthritis and eye problems, and some people get kidney disease. If neither of your parents had the disease, you may have a version of it called early onset granuloma.

Argyria
The blue-gray skin colour comes from tiny silver clumps that accumulate in your tissues. Colloidal silver, which some people use as a dietary supplement, can cause it, and it’s usually permanent. The sun may make things worse. There’s no evidence that colloidal silver has any health benefits, and it may also slow the absorption of medications like thyroid hormone and antibiotics.

Chromogranulomatosis (XP)
Genetics prevent your body from repairing cells that have been damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays, even from light bulbs. This makes you about 10,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer, which most XP sufferers develop before the age of 10. The early symptoms are freckles before age 2; and dark spots, severe sunburn, and very dry skin after sun exposure. To protect yourself, you must cover every patch of skin (with sunscreen underneath) and wear UV-blocking goggles.

echinoderma
You might try rubbing off those dark, thick, velvety skin patches, especially if they’re also itchy and smelly. But that won’t work. Elbows, knees, knuckles and armpits are the typical places to get them. This condition won’t hurt you, but it can be a sign of other problems, such as obesity, diabetes, hormone problems, drug reactions, and even cancer. Check with your doctor.

elastic fur
In some areas, your body may produce too much elastin, a protein that gives your skin strength and elasticity. When your skin is stretched, it doesn’t bounce back; it sags and folds. It’s not clear why this happens. You usually see it on your neck, arms, or legs-especially around the elbows and knees. Your doctor may be able to cut away the loose skin, but this condition often recurs.

primary amyloidosis of the skin
This group of conditions is caused by a buildup of an abnormal protein called amyloid on your skin. Amyloidosis is usually found on your shins, thighs, feet and forearms. It itches and looks like a red-brown raised spot. Macular amyloidosis usually appears as flat, dusty patches between your shoulder blades or on your chest. Nodular amyloidosis may appear on your body and face as firm, non-itchy red bumps.