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DERMATITIS: A general term usually referring to a variety of skin conditions. Symptoms are usually seen as inflamed dry skin with some itching discomfort. Two common problems are Eczema and Psoriasis. Eczema is a chronic problem related to stress, asthma and allergies.

Psoriasis is a skin condition where the cells multiply very rapidly causing discolored patches. EXCEMA: chronically itchy, inflamed skin that is variously linked to allergies, asthma, stress, and heredity. PSORIASIS: a chronic skin disease characterized by circumscribed red patches covered with raised white-scaled patches, in which skin cells multiply much faster than normal.

RASH: an eruption on the body typically with little or no elevation above the surface. DIAPER RASH: a skin irritation of the diaper covered area and usually the buttocks of an infant especially from exposure to feces and urinary ammonia. NETTLE RASH: an eruption on the skin caused by or resembling the condition produced by stinging with nettles - see hives.

PRICKLY HEAT: a non contagious cutaneous eruption of red pimples with intense itching and tingling caused by inflammation around the sweat ducts, called also heat rash.

CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT: For serious skin conditions such as psoriasis, corticosteroids are sometimes prescribed. However, these drugs are not only counterproductive but can cause psoriasis to spread. Serious cases of that disease have been traced to the suppression of a simple skin infection with cortisone. For minor skin problems, a variety of drugstore topical remedies is available. These require caution since many contain hazardous chemicals. Drugs applied to the skin, although less well absorbed than ingested, go directly into the bloodstream without metabolic detoxification by the stomach, kidneys, and liver. Topical painkillers have been found to produce adverse reactions more frequently when applied to the skin than when swallowed. People who are allergic to foods or other substances should be especially careful with them. Babies' skin is particularly absorbent. Topical painkillers should not be used on children under two without a doctor's advice.

NATURAL APPROACH: Diet is an important factor in preserving the skin. Antioxidants and calcium help prevent wrinkled, sagging skin. Essential fatty acids are in short supply in the American diet and need to be supplemented. Omega-3 fatty acids help build more efficient cell membranes that exclude allergy-provoking proteins. Green tea not only fights viral and bacterial infections, but applied topically, can prevent or even reverse sun and age damage to the skin.
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