Understanding your skin can sometimes be tricky. From eczema flare-ups to heat rashes to old scars, your skin reacts to the world around you in many ways. Fortunately, once you know how to recognize different skin conditions, you can treat them quickly and easily—and, in some cases, prevent them altogether.

Your Guide on How to Recognize Different Skin Conditions

Read on to learn about the most common skin conditions and how to manage them.

Eczema and Psoriasis

According to the American Association of Dermatology, eczema describes a group of conditions that cause irritated, itchy, and inflamed skin. These conditions can range from atopic dermatitis (itchy rashes) to hand eczema, which causes inflammation, flaking, cracking, and itching on the palms and fingers.

In Children

In children, eczema usually appears before the age of five as atopic dermatitis. This condition leaves skin itchy and uncomfortable and even dry, raw, and scaly. It may appear as a rash on the cheeks, especially in babies. In more severe cases, rashes may ooze and weep.

In Adults

Adults can develop any type of eczema anywhere on the body. It often begins in childhood, but some people experience it for the first time as an adult.


If you or your child has eczema, you may find that certain triggers cause a flare-up. These can include stress, humidity changes, environmental allergens, and sweat. Learning (and avoiding) these triggers can help you manage your condition. It's also important to keep your skin moisturized throughout the day with gentle skin-barrier creams and emollients. For example, EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex is clinically proven to improve dry, compromised skin within 24 hours.

For more severe cases, speak to your doctor or Dermatologist about prescribed steroid creams and in-office treatments.

Scar from Acne on face . and dark spots and skin problems and make-up in women


Acne is caused by blocked hair follicles containing oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. It's common in teenagers during puberty, but it can affect people at all life stages. Many women find that their acne worsens during periods of hormonal change, like menstruation or pregnancy.

So, how can you identify acne? Acne may appear as whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and bumps beneath the skin. You might notice it on your face, back, chest, and shoulders.


Acne is fairly common, but if it's causing you stress, visit your doctor or Derm to make a treatment plan. They can prescribe a range of different treatments to help clear up breakouts, including prescription-strength retinoids, antibiotics, alpha-hydroxy acids, and beta-hydroxy acids.

Over-the-counter acne treatments like cleansers, serums, and moisturizers can also help you manage breakouts at home. Look for ingredients like Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, and Retinol. Formulas that highlight these ingredients can help control oil production in acne-prone skin and increase healthy skin-cell turnover.

Dark Spots and Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation refer to dark patches of skin that leave you with an uneven complexion. This skin condition can affect all skin tones, but it's most prominent in people with Black or brown skin due to increased levels of melanin. Dark spots can result from any change to the skin, including a wound, patch of psoriasis, or sun damage. Certain medications or hormonal changes, like pregnancy, can also lead to hyperpigmentation.


Treating hyperpigmentation starts with identifying the cause. If it's a side effect of a condition such as psoriasis or acne, you'll need to address that first to help put a stop to more dark spots. In the meantime, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen like EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 every morning (and remember to reapply often!). This will help prevent new patches of pigmentation from forming and affected areas from becoming worse.

For especially stubborn cases, consult your Derm. Otherwise, you can brighten dark spots with ingredients like Vitamin C and Glycolic Acid, which helps exfoliate the skin. Likewise, Niacinamide can help reduce inflammation and redness.


Injuries, severe acne breakouts, burns, and even illnesses (think chicken pox) can all cause scars. If you have scars, you probably already know how stubborn they can be. But with time and patience, you can minimize their appearance.


Mayo Clinic suggests several scar treatments, including laser resurfacing, in-office chemical peels, dermabrasion (where a Derm uses a rotating brush to remove the top layer of skin), and soft tissue fillers (where collagen or fat are injected beneath the skin to plump the surface of an indented scar).

It's also crucial to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to help fade old scars since exposure to ultraviolet light can lead to persistent discoloration. For more recent skin injuries or burns, try applying a topical like EltaMD SilverGel. This formula promotes healthy wound healing, prevents bacterial growth, and provides broad-spectrum antimicrobial protection.

Sunburns and Burns

If you've been caught out after a day in the sun or on the slopes, you know how uncomfortable a sunburn can be. From peeling to inflammation to blistering, it can take anywhere from a few days to over a week for a sunburn to subside. Burns caused by boiling water or a hot electronic device, like curling tongs, look similar: red, inflamed skin.


Severe burns—which may cause acute pain, fever, or blisters over large areas—require immediate medical treatment. When treating a minor burn at home, keep the skin cool by taking cool showers or baths throughout the day or applying a cold, damp cloth to your skin. It's also important to stay out of the sun as much as possible, so seek shade, cover up, and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen regularly if you do need to venture outdoors.

Moisturizing a sunburn is also key. Try a moisturizing after-sun lotion or body cream like EltaMD Moisture Seal to restore lost lipids. Look for ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Shea Butter, Aloe Vera, and Coconut Oil to help seal in moisture.


Skin rashes are common and can be caused by heat, sun, plants, skin care products, insect bites, and clothing, among other things.


To protect a rash, wear loose-fitting clothes, take regular showers, and apply sunscreen regularly. If you've identified a specific irritant (say, grass or pollen), try to avoid it as much as possible and wash off your skin immediately after contact.

While your rash subsides, apply a soothing lotion to support your skin barrier and avoid scratching, as this can cause infection or make your symptoms worse.

Looking to a Future of Healthy Skin

Whether you've experienced one or several of these skin conditions, understanding your skin can make you feel more confident about how to put yourself on the path to recovery. And remember: broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential to every skin care routine. It can help manage everything from acne to dark spots to scarring—so slather on your favorite sunscreen and venture out into the world.


  • Catherine Hufton

    Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.

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