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In Europe, a prevalence of 15% in men and 6% in women has been documented in a report from the UK. Over the age of 70, 34% of males and 18% of females were found to have AKs (Memon et al., 2000). The highest prevalence rates are found in countries that are both close to the equator and have large fair-skinned populations, such as Australia (Queensland) where rates of AKs over 55% of men between 30-70 and 37% of women have been reported (Frost et al., 2000).
Today, it is known that actinic keratosis is an early form of non-melanoma skin cancer. In contrast to other forms of skin cancer, however, actinic keratosis is not malignant, as it only affects the top-most skin layer. This layer does not have any blood vessels and the degenerate cells can therefore not spread with actinic keratosis, i.e. they cannot form any metastases. In around 10% of cases, they can, however, become a malignant form of skin cancer. Actinic keratosis can be very thoroughly and easily treated.
An acute eczema typically starts with a reddening of the skin areas affected, mostly accompanied by itching, swelling, blister formation and weeping. As the disease progresses, crusts form and, in the healing phase, the skin becomes scaly. Acute eczema is often also called ‘dermatitis'.
Acute eczema is differentiated from chronic eczema, which regresses only with difficulty and is characterised by slightly different symptoms. In the chronic phase, the skin tends to be dry, scaly and itchy. There are no highly inflammatory signs such as blister formation and weeping. The skin, however, is marked by strong lines (‘lichenification').
The causes and appearance of eczema are diverse. A fundamental distinction is made between the following forms of eczema:
- Atopic eczema (neurodermatitis)
- Acute or chronic contact eczema (allergic or irritating/toxic)
- Nummular eczema
- Seborrhoeic eczema
Psoriasis patients suffer more frequently from certain internal illnesses. These include Crohn's disease and colitis ulcerosa (inflammatory intestinal diseases), psoriasis arthritis, diabetes mellitus type II, coronary disease, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome (accompanied by increased blood lipid values, arteriosclerosis, excess weight, increased blood sugar levels or high blood pressure).
Psoriasis can occur in various forms. Depending on how the illness manifests itself on the skin, a distinction is made between different forms of psoriasis. The most common form of psoriasis is psoriasis vulgaris, also called plaque-type psoriasis. Around 80% of psoriasis patients suffer from this form of the illness.
Spasticity is a symptom defined by patients and carers as experiencing muscle spasms, stiffness, rigidity and/or impaired movement, and is one of the most common symptoms of MS, occurring in as many as 84% of sufferers. Spasticity can affect many aspects of MS patients' daily lives, and is a major contributor to their distress and disability .[+ info]