Skin Science & Anatomy | Skin Conditions

15 Common Skin Conditions You Need to Know About

It’s true; skin can be really temperamental.

You look in the mirror and find at least one imperfection.

Some of these skin conditions are transient, and some permanent, whilst some come in the form of spots, pustules, moles, and even pigmentation.

Whilst it’s impossible for us to give a complete diagnosis of every condition found on your skin, this ‘go-to guide’, is comprehensive, and will help you address some of your more common skin concerns.

Common Skin Conditions

Age Spots

These are also known as liver spots and become more apparent with age, especially on those with sun-damaged skin.

What happens is that the melanocytes or pigment-producing cells over-produce melanin, which is a topic you can read all about here.


Common Skin Conditions: Open Comedones, Blackheads

These are often referred to as “Open Comedones” and occur in oily areas of the skin.

They are caused by a build-up of dead cells in the follicle and oil secreted by the sebaceous glands, which solidifies in the follicle creating a hardened form of fatty build-up – the reason they become black is that once the comedone is exposed to air, the sebum (oil) oxidises.

How you remove your blackheads are really important, squeeze too hard, and you can cause scarring and pigmentation. For this reason, we have created an entire article dedicated to blackhead removal.


This is such a large and diverse topic that we also have created an entire article on the subject of dehydrated skin and how you can treat it.


Dysplastic Naevi

Common Skin Conditions: Dysplastic Naevus
Image from DermNetNZ

These are unusual benign moles; they resemble melanoma and are often referred to as Melanocytic Naevus, those who tend to develop this type of mole, tend to have a family history of melanoma.

A study found that those with dysplastic nevi are more at risk of developing multiple melanomas, with ten times the probability of developing one in their lifetime, compared to those who don’t have moles.

Their poorly defined border recognises these particular moles, they are irregular in shape and uneven in colour.

If you are concerned about any changes in the appearance of your moles, you should seek medical advice immediately. As a general rule, a stable mole will never itch or bleed, and will never become ulcerated, or form a crust. Removing a mole does not, in any way, increase the risk of it spreading or changing.


Common Eye Conditions - Milia
Hard, pearly, white lumps characterise milia; they are superficial cysts that form when skin cells (called keratin) become trapped instead of getting naturally sloughed off. The keratin gets lodged under a layer of protective skin tissue, a few cell layers thick.

Milia can be found on the cheeks and around the eyes, including the eyelids, and in some cases between the lashes, they range from 1-3mm in diameter. They are often associated with dry skin that tends to be acidic.


As discussed above, moles are often referred to as nevus or naevi, which means blemishes or lumps on the skin. They are collections of nevus cells derived from pigment-producing melanocytes.

Most moles are due to a localised overgrowth of melanocytes. On occasion, they can contain coarse hairs that are strong and dark; this is due to the plentiful supply of blood and melanin that is fed to them from the dermis, your deeper layer of skin.

They can be pigmented or non-pigmented, and are either present at birth or can be acquired during adulthood. Some moles appear to be hormone-dependent; they can also occur for the first time during puberty or pregnancy and often become apparent when taking birth control. Some occur as a result of overexposure to UV light.

Open Pores

A pore is a lay term that refers to the appearance of the openings in follicles on your skin’s surface. A follicle is a duct in the skin that contains a hair and is attached to the sebaceous glands that produce sebum.

Hair grows from the bottom of a follicle – this is also the way that sebum (oil) finds its way to your skin’s surface to lubricate your skin; the sebum flows through the follicle, which becomes stretched over time; this creates the opening known as a pore. When someone complains about having large pores, what they are complaining about, is the visible size of their follicle openings.

The term pore and follicle are often used interchangeably when discussing pores that are blocked – pores are in fact follicles, that are clogged with dead skin cells and solidified sebum.

A big question often asked by my clients, is can you actually reduce the size of open pores? Sadly, the answer is no despite what clever marketing claims try to tell you. Our article, how to shrink pores, answers this question in more detail.


Common Skin Conditions: Rosacea
Image from DermNetNZ

Rosacea is a vascular disorder of the blood circulation. There are four types of rosacea; the most common occurs as diffused redness across the cheeks and the nose – in a butterfly shape that can create inflammation of the nose.

When the skin is flushed with blood, a biochemical reaction in the skin is released; this triggers the expansion and growth of new blood vessels, which increases the chances of flushing.

Our article, “What Causes Rosacea?“, is an interesting read, for those keen to find out more on rosacea.

Skin tags

Common Skin Conditions: Skin Tags
Image from DermNetNZ

These are harmless, flesh-coloured extensions of the skin and can be found on the eyelids, neck, shoulders, armpits, and groin.

They appear on the skin with a neck like a mushroom and vary in size from 3 – 15mm in diameter; larger tags can twist and bleed, and although harmless, this can cause an infection.

Interestingly, having multiple skin tags could be associated with intestinal polyps, so if you do have intestinal problems and suddenly develop skin tags, it is wise to see your doctor. Skin tags can be easily removed, by simple snipping and electrocautery.

Seborrhoeic Keratosis

Common Skin Conditions: Seborrhoeic Keratosis

These are slightly elevated, rough, and scaly growths that appear stuck on the surface of the skin, often referred to as seborrhoeic warts, they can be found on the trunk, face, back of hands, and forearms.

They vary in size from a few millimetres to three centimetres; they range in colour from non-pigmented to golden, dark brown, and almost black. The surface is crusty to touch, and they can be irritating and itchy. Fortunately, they are benign and rarely become serious tumours. They are easily removed by curettage or cryotherapy.

A biopsy is usually required to rule out a more serious tumour.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Common Skin Conditions: Sebaceous Hyperplasia
Image from DermNetNZ

This condition is due to an overgrowth of glands that have become blocked.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia occurs on the skin from adolescence onwards, and are most commonly found on the face, usually around the T Zone. They are yellowish or white in appearance and can be mistaken for milia, and have a central dip where the pore is.


These are benign tumours of the sweat glands that also look like milia; they are often mistaken for flat warts or pimples. Syringoma is flesh-coloured or slightly yellow and occur most frequently on the lower eyelids, and occasionally on the head, chest, and abdomen.

Interestingly, they are growths of the sweat glands and are completely benign.


Common Skin Conditions: Telangiectasia
Image from DermNetNZ

This is one of the skin conditions we often see in our clinic, especially with those who have sensitive skin conditions. They are centrally dilated blood vessels and are often referred to as dilated capillaries or thread veins.

They are found mostly on the face or décolleté. Still, they can appear anywhere on the body, they can appear spontaneously, from trauma such as squeezing spots, or as a direct result of overexposure to UV.

Viral warts

These are papillomavirus infections of the skin’s surface, a common condition in children.

Most warts appear from trauma to the skin, especially on the hands and around the nails from biting.

The smoother, flatter warts are found on the face and neck, whilst projecting filiform warts are found on the body. The deep plantar warts are common on the soles of the feet and are easily recognised by their rough texture and tiny black dots found near the surface, which are really blood vessels.

Warts don’t usually appear straight away and incubation time can be anywhere between one to twelve months. They are spread by touch, and about one-third of warts spontaneously disappear within six months, although some can last forever if not treated.


Common Skin Conditions: Xanthelasma
Image from DermNetNZ

These appear as plaques or fatty tissue and are most commonly found in the medial corners of the upper and lower eyelids, following the shape of the socket.

They may be an indication of high cholesterol or diabetes – if you’re concerned about xanthelasma, we recommend seeking medical advice.

Treating skin conditions

If you have identified with any of the above skin conditions, chances are you will want to know how to treat them; whilst we can’t discuss all of them, below we have listed a selection of treatments that can be used to treat a few of these conditions:

Blend Epilation

This is used to treat telangiectasia and several other conditions. A needle is used to target the area, and with the help of galvanic current, this dissolves any coagulated matter. Most people find this treatment method less painful, and there is little or no crusting of the skin during the healing process.

When treating telangiectasia, a larger segment of the capillary is treated, so there are fewer traumas and better results.


This method is recommended for skin tags, plane viral, and seborrhoeic wart removal.

 Diathermy is the most successful treatment available, as it targets the blood supply rather than just the surface area, a diathermy current enables the person doing the treatment to use the needle like a scalpel, severing the lesions from the skin.

The most resistant are viral warts, sometimes requiring several treatments.


Laser mole removal does vary, and the size of the lesion will dictate how many treatments you require.


Many of the above skin conditions will only require one treatment, such as seborrhoeic and plane warts and skin tags; treatment time can take anywhere between five minutes to one hour, depending on the size.

For telangiectasia or thread veins, each vessel may require two to three treatments over a period of four weekly intervals, and spider naevi may take more than one treatment.

It Is important that you are realistic about your treatment plan and what you expect from it; for example, with telangiectasia, it is unlikely all vessels will be removed. Instead, a 60-80% improvement is a realistic measure.

Be prepared to have to undergo top-up treatments, especially if your condition is hereditary.

9 replies on “15 Common Skin Conditions You Need to Know About”

My sister and I were born with an genetic skin condition that was recognized immediately after birth. Although mild by some cases, mine has gotten more difficult to manage because of a medication I am on that lowers estrogens. I make many millions more skin cells per day than a normal person, this affects my entire body. I use very mild OTC natural jojoba oil and CerVe lotion on my face. Exfoliating with a smooth cloth and warm water to clean. No make-up. My body forms tremendous scale, some like a peeling sunburn, some small scales. I soak in warm water, use Glycolic face soap in bottle all over. Exfoliate with e-cloth and tips of fingers. I use Amlac 12% lactic acid. Recently I have been trying to mix 8% Glycolic A. to glycerin and aloe Vera mix to rub into my body skin before Amlac. Or trying just a covering of light oil like grape seed, but since my skin is very dry too, I fight between too much barrier oil/cream that makes exfoliating very difficult and more time consuming. Shaklee makes a biofriendly surfactant Bh2 that depending on strength used helps cut any barriers I use, then I can exfoliate and restart! Do you have any suggestions? Dermatologists go right to the barrier creams forgetting that I have to deglue too!! HylaPlus was a Rx but did not do much. Very expensive and now I can buy the Hyluraronic sodium/ acid online anyway. Supposedly some people don’t respond to this chemical. I am 65 and am blessed with very few wrinkles, but interested in the new peptides. Thank you.

Hi Jan

I am so sorry to hear about your skin concerns, and what your describing is Psoriasis so I can relate. The use of glycolics and lactic acid rings alarm bells, I understand that in some way you want to break down the bonds between the skin cells, and yes these ingredients do have an exfoliating effect, but they are the bases for many peels and must be used with care, especially on skin that is already very compromised. Sometimes using neat oil on the skin can cause the skin to become even drier over time also. Jan what worked for me is a very gentle approach topically and internally lots of linoleic acid and beneficial bacteria, but we are each very different so trial and error is key. But please stay away from damaging chemicals which will compromise your protective barrier. Samantha

How do you treat sebhorraic dermatitis flares? It seems that ceramides, lipids, or just a very good moisturizer with some anti-aging (texture specific) can make a big difference. But sometimes the flare returns in a few days…

Hi Shawna, it’s really hard without seeing your skin as everyone is so different. The reason I have never done a specific article about this is because it is largely unknown why these flare ups occur or infact how to cure it. From my perspective if you are using a good skincare regime that is free of stimulating fragrances and extracts etc then it is a matter of elimination in terms of systemic problems diet etc also Lactose I believe has a lot to answer for. This article is pretty good at explaining the treatments Sorry I can’t be of more help on this issue.

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