Having a skin condition of any kind, particularly one which is sore, red or itchy, can be very uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing too. The good news is that they are often easily treatable with tablets, pessaries or topical remedies and relief can be very quick. However, many skin conditions are similar in appearance, and the trick is in not only in diagnosing the problem accurately but in working out the cause.

We’ve put together a quick list of the five most common ones:


Eczema makes skin red, itchy, cracked and dry. Although there’s no cure it can get better over time, with many people growing out of it. Any body part can be affected, but it’s most commonly found on the hands, knees, face, elbows and scalp. Treatment usually involves moisturisers and steroid creams which can help alleviate symptoms. A flare up can be triggered by stress or other agents such as a change in washing powder or other toiletries.


Psoriasis usually shows itself as flaky red patches of skin with silvery scales. These patches commonly appear on the lower back, knees, scalp and elbows and can be very sore and itchy. For some people psoriasis will be a minor irritation, but for others it can have a huge impact on their quality of life. Like eczema there’s no cure, but ointments, creams, medication or treatment with light (phototherapy) can help clear a flare up. Again, psoriasis can be triggered by stress or being run down.

Warts and verrucas

Warts are harmless lumps that can pop up anywhere on the skin but most commonly on the feet and hands. Verrucas are essentially warts on the feet. Most disappear without treatment, but if a wart or verruca becomes painful, irritating or embarrassing there are various treatments that can help. These include salicylic acid, chemical treatments and freezing the wart (cryotherapy).


Impetigo is highly contagious. It’s a skin infection that can be spread between people who share towels or bedding for example, and outbreaks cause blisters and sores.

There are two types: non-bullous impetigo (usually affecting the mouth and nose) and bullous impetigo which generally affects the torso.

Impetigo typically clears up on its own within 3 weeks, but may require cream or medication if it is slow to disappear or becomes infected.


Urticaria (also known as weals, hives, nettle rash or welts) is an itchy, raised rash. It could just be a patch on one part of the body or be spread across a wider area. Generally no treatment is required and the rash improves after a few days. However, if it’s particularly itchy, antihistamines can help.

Eczema, psoriasis - or something else?

Designed specifically for nurses and front line allied health professionals, PDUK offers an excellent course worth 7 hours of CPD called Recognising and managing acute skin conditions in primary care. This one-day session will boost your confidence in assessing and safely managing common skin conditions and is held in London in November 2019 and May 2020. All refreshments and course materials are provided so get signed up today before places run out!

Author's Bio: 

Marina Pal is a renowned author and social media enthusiast.