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It might be medical: 3 common conditions masquerading as cosmetic problems

Bald patches, pit stains, and perpetually ruddy cheeks – patients often believe these common, although sometimes embarrassing, issues are a fact of life. Resigned to the idea that these problems are merely cosmetic, they self-treat with ineffective over-the-counter products or by covering up affected areas. And, while these conditions may seem inconsequential, failing to cope with these issues can severely impact skin health, self-esteem, and quality of life.

Fortunately, for millions of Americans suffering from certain types of hair loss, excessive sweating, or red checks, an online visit with a board-certified dermatologist can mean relief. Each of these symptoms is indicative of common medical diagnoses that are often overlooked because of the perception that they are just cosmetic issues.

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Hair Loss

For 6.8 million Americans, alopecia areata causes hair to fall out in round patches. Typically hair loss occurs on the scalp, but can also be found in eyebrows, on beards, eyelashes, or anywhere else on the body with hair. Alopecia areata can cause nail problems, too. In addition to hair loss, patients also may experience pitting, roughness, and the appearance of fine lines on the nails.

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder. It is not caused by stress or diet, it cannot be spread to others, and it can occur at any age. While allergies do not cause hair loss, individuals with alopecia areata are at higher risk for asthma and allergies – especially atopic dermatitis (commonly known as eczema). Patients are also more likely to have concurrent autoimmune disorders like vitiligo, thyroid disorders, and type 1 diabetes.

Alopecia Areata is simple to identify, and treatment is straightforward. Often, a dermatologist only needs to look at the affected area to make a diagnosis. While there is no cure for the disorder, hair will typically re-grow on its own. Treatment will expedite growth.

Corticosteroids are generally the primary treatment option for patients with alopecia areata. Other options include Minoxidil, a hair re-growth medication, Anthralin, a short-contact therapy, or Diphencyprone, a drug that induces an allergic reaction to trick the immune system.

Alopecia areata is unpredictable. There is no way to know how the immune system will react. Hair loss typically re-occurs before the disease finally disappears. Regular check-ins and communication with a dermatologist are essential in managing the disorder.

Excessive Sweating

It's not their imagination; some people sweat significantly more than others. The disorder is called primary hyperhidrosis, and it causes patients to produce 4 to 5 times the average amount of sweat. And, this sweating isn't confined to hot, summer days or while working out at the gym – patients find that they are still soaking through shirts even as temperatures drop or in climate-controlled, office settings.

For those who have primary hyperhidrosis, the problems often begin in adolescence and continue through adulthood. The disorder is also prevalent, affecting 1 in 20 Americans – although most (49%) suffer for years before seeking medical help for their excessive sweating issues.

Thanks to prescription-strength antiperspirants, medications that can be delivered through pills, underarm wipes, injections, and corrective surgery, hyperhidrosis is very manageable – and in some cases – curable. Patients should talk to their dermatologist about options to develop a treatment plan.

Not sure if you have primary hyperhidrosis? Visit and take the quiz.

Red Face

Chronic redness across the cheeks, nose, and forehead is the classic symptom of rosacea. Sometimes, this redness will spread to the neck and chest. When left untreated, the redness becomes progressively worse, and it can cause damage to the face and eyes. It is critical for patients to see a dermatologist if they suspect they may have rosacea.

Experts are unsure as to what exactly causes rosacea but suspect that certain environmental and hereditary conditions may play a part. And, even though the causes of rosacea are unknown, it's still a treatable – but not curable – condition.

Patients typically work with their dermatologists to find the triggers of their rosacea. Identifying what causes flares is critical in managing the disease. And, developing a rosacea-friendly skin-care routine is vital – a dermatologist can also provide recommendations for gentle products that work in conjunction with treatment.

Because of the potential long-term effects of the condition, it is essential to obtain a proper diagnosis and to manage your rosacea under the supervision of a board-certified dermatologist.