Plants used to treat skin diseases

Skin diseases are numerous and a frequently occurring health problem affecting all ages from the neonates to the elderly and cause harm in number of ways. Maintaining healthy skin is important for a healthy body. Many people may develop skin diseases that affect the skin, including cancer, herpes and cellulitis. Some wild plants and their parts are frequently used to treat these diseases. The use of plants is as old as the mankind. Natural treatment is cheap and claimed to be safe. It is also suitable raw material for production of new synthetic agents. A review of some plants for the treatment of skin diseases is provided that summarizes the recent technical advancements that have taken place in this area during the past 17 years.

Skin disease is a common ailment and it affects all ages from the neonate to the elderly and cause harm in number of ways. [1] There are more than a thousand conditions that may affect the skin but most skin diseases can be categorized into nine common types. [6]

Rashes

A rash is an area of red, inflamed skin or a group of individual spots. These can be caused by irritation, allergy, infection, an underlying disease, as well as by structural defects for example, blocked pores or malfunctioning oil glands. Examples of rashes include acne, dermatitis, eczema, hives, pityriasis rosea and psorasis.

Viral infections

These occur when a virus penetrates the stratum corneum and infects the inner layers of the skin. Examples of viral skin infections include herpes simplex, shingles (herpes zoster) and warts. Some systemic viral infections, such as chicken pox and measles, may also affect the skin. Viral infections cannot be cured with antibiotics.

Bacterial infections

Such infections are caused by a variety of bacteria, the most common types being staphylococci and streptococci. Bacteria may infect the topmost layers of skin, the follicles, or the deeper layers of skin. If not treated correctly, these infections may spread throughout the body. Examples include impel folliculitis, cellulitis and lyme disease. Bacterial infections are better treated with antibiotics.

Fungal infections

Harmless fungi are always present on surface of the skin. Infection occurs when these organisms enter into the body. These infections are usually superficial, affecting the skin, hair, nails and include athlete’s foot, lock itch and ringworm. However, in people with suppressed immune system or who have been taking antibiotics for long period -, the fungi may spread to deep within the body, causing more serious disease.

Parasitic infections

These infections occur after exposure to parasites such as lice and scabies.

Pigmentation disorders

The amount of pigment in the skin is determined by the amount of melanin being produced by the body. Loss of pigment (hypo pigmentation) can be caused by absence of melanocytes, malfunctioning cells, exposure to cold or chemicals, or some types of infection. An increase in pigment (hyperpigmentation) may be caused by skin irritation, hormonal changes, aging, a metabolic disorder, or any other underlying problem. Age spots, freckles and melasma are examples of hyper pigmentation. Vitiligo is an example of hypo pigmentation.

Tumors and cancers

These growths arise when skin cells begin to multiply faster than normal. Not every skin growth is cancerous. Some tumors are harmless and will not spread. Skin cancer is the most common of all the cancers, affecting 800,000 Americans each year. It is caused, in 90% of cases, by sun exposure. The three types of skin cancers are basal cell cancer (the most curable), squamous cell cancer (which may grow and spread) and malignant melanoma (the most deadly form). Prevention involves protecting the skin against damaging ultraviolet rays. Early detection helps to improve the chances of a cure. Regular self-examinations are, therefore, recommended.

Trauma

Trauma describes an injury to the skin caused by a blow, a cut, or a burn. Whenever the surface of the skin is broken, the body becomes more susceptible to infection and disease.

Other conditions

Wrinkles, rosacea, spider veins and varicose veins are among those conditions that cannot be neatly categorized. Wrinkles are caused by a breakdown of the collagen and elastin within the dermis, which results in sagging skin. Rosacea is a chronic disorder in which the skin of the face becomes red and develops pimples, lesions and more rarely enlargement of the nose. Its cause is unknown. Spider veins and varicose veins become apparent when blood vessels enlarge and become visible through the surface of the skin.

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