In the United Kingdom, one of the most common reasons to present to the GP surgery is a skin problem – each year a quarter of the population will present to their GP for this. This is true for patients of all ages – 1 in 5 babes have eczema. Skin disease is the second most common health complaint in adults.
Skin diseases are often underestimated because they are not usually life-threatening. But they cause significant discomfort, disfigurement, psychological trauma and impair social functioning.
Acne, eczema, psoriasis, warts and skin tumours are among the commonest of all human disorders.
Why is skin disease so common?
The skin is an extraordinary structure. We depend on this 1.7 m2 of barrier to protect our internal contents from the external environment. Most of the external world is harmful, even fatal if our innards are exposed to it.
Skin is a composite of different tissues that have evolved to work harmoniously together. Skin cells of are modified to their functions they serve. The presence of a diverse range of cells with different functions, all the while at risk of exposure to harmful outside environment mean that: 1) skin is in the firing line; 2) skin is easily and frequently damaged; 3) each cell types it contains can ‘go wrong’. 4) skin is readily visible, responds rapidly to change – hence we see a large number of skin diseases.