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Hives are a common allergic reaction that appears in the form of swollen, red bumps or patches on the skin. These usually appear suddenly and cause itchiness. In some cases, it may also sting or burn. Hives can affect any part of the body including the face, ears, tongue, lips and throat. Hives are usually small in size but may grow as large as the size of a dinner plate. In some cases, hives may also join together to form plaques.
Hives are caused as a result of the production of histamines in the body that make plasma leak out of blood vessels in the skin. These histamines are released as a result of an allergic reaction, exposure to chemicals, insect bites, sunlight or adverse reactions to certain medicines. There are four main types of hives:
Acute Urticaria: These hives usually last for less than 6 weeks. They are triggered by insect bites, allergic reactions to food, latex, medicines or by exposure to infections. The most common food items that trigger this type of hives are chocolates, nuts, fish, tomatoes, eggs, soy, wheat and milk. Aspirin and other medicines like ibuprofen, ACE inhibitors and codeine can also trigger these hives.
Chronic Urticaria: Hives that last for longer than 6 weeks fall into the category of chronic urticaria. IT is harder to find what triggers a case of chronic urticaria than it is for acute urticaria. Along with the triggers mentioned above, hormonal disorders, tumours, chronic infections and immune system disorders can also trigger these hives.
Physical Urticaria: Hives caused as a result of physically stimulating skin are called physical urticaria. This includes sudden exposure to heat or cold, sunlight, vibrations, pressure, exercise etc. These hives usually resolve themselves within an hour and only affect the part of the skin that has been stimulated.
Dermatographism: Hives caused by scratching or firmly stroking the skin fall under this fourth category.
Hives caused by an allergic reaction can recur and hence if you suffer from hives you should try and identify the allergen. This can be done by taking an allergen test in a hospital or by changing aspects of your diet and studying the results. Hives are usually treated with antihistamines but in some cases, steroids may also be needed. However, it is usually nothing to worry about.
Psoriasis is a disorder which is characterized by rapid multiplication of skin cells on the skin’s surface. These extra skin cells develop into silvery scales, which are often dry and itchy. It may also lead to formation of painful red patches on the skin. This disorder might produce symptoms, which flare up and reduce periodically. There is no cure for psoriasis; treatments however can make the symptoms manageable.
The symptoms of psoriasis include red patches on the skin and scaly and dry skin. The red patches might be itchy and one might often experience a burning sensation around the area. The joints in your body may also become stiff and swollen.
The exact cause of psoriasis has not been ascertained. The accepted theory is that psoriasis occurs when the immune system attacks the healthy skin cells. There is a type of white blood cell called the ‘T cell’, whose function is to combat harmful virus or bacteria in the body. With Psoriasis or any other autoimmune disorder, these T cells start attacking the healthy (skin) cells.
Overactive ‘T Cells’ may trigger other responses in the body, thus, leading to excess production of skin cells and white blood cells. The excess cells move to the skin surface and end up causing the red painful patches.
Treatment options to manage psoriasis
Although there’s no cure for psoriasis as such, the symptoms can be controlled. The treatment options for psoriasis are:
1. Topical treatments: Topical treatments involve application of creams and lotions. They have been mentioned below:
I. Corticosteroids: Corticosteroid creams or lotions reduce the excess skin cell production, thus, reducing inflammation. They are generally not used as a long term treatment as they cause skin thinning.
II. Vitamin D analogues: A synthetic form of Vitamin D, it helps in slowing down skin cell growth.
III. Salicylic acid: This treatment is used to reduce scaling on the skin, caused due to psoriasis. It is usually administered along with other medications.
2. Light therapy: Light therapy involves using sunlight or artificial light to reduce inflammation and scaling. It helps in reducing the activity of T cells in the body.
3. Oral medications
In case of severe symptoms, oral medications are prescribed. Medications such methotrexate helps in reducing the excess production of skin cells. Cyclosporine is a drug that is used to suppress the erroneous immune system response.
Fungal skin diseases are brought about by various sorts of fungi and are the main reasons behind an irritated skin. Fungi attack and develop in dead keratin, a protein that makes up your skin, hair and nails. The various sorts of fungal diseases are caused by various groups of fungi. Some common fungal skin infections include ringworm, intertrigo, nail infections, Athlete’s foot, etc.
The likelihood of fungal infections increase in the following cases:
- If you are overweight
- Not drying your skin completely after a shower or wash
- Walking barefoot in shower and wet locations
- In case of a pregnancy
- If you have a weak immune system
- If you suffer from diabetes
- If you come into contact with a person or animal with fungal infections.
- Due to a recent course of antibiotics
Fungal rashes can at times be mistaken for other skin conditions, for example, psoriasis and eczema. Fungal skin diseases can bring about a number of skin rashes; some of them being red, textured and itchy. The organism can influence only one region, or a few zones of your body. In the event that you get a fungal disease of your scalp, you might lose some hair. There are steps which can be performed in order to protect yourself from getting a parasitic skin contamination:
- Dry your skin properly after a shower
- Try not to share hairbrushes, towels or combs since they might be carrying fungi
- In case a family member has been infected with scalp ringworm, hats, pillows, combs or scissors should be soaked using water and bleach
- Allow your shoes sufficient time to dry out by alternating them every two or three days
- In order to keep moisture away from the skin, wear loose clothes that are made of cotton or other breathable materials.
- Socks, bed linen and clothes should be washed regularly to prevent the growth of any fungi
- In communal and wet areas like saunas, swimming pools, showers, etc., wear clean plastic shoes or flip-flops.
- If you have diabetes, try to keep your blood sugar under control