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Diagnosing skin conditions can be a challenge

Mistakes are easy to make when people in Illinois try to self diagnose their skin problems. A dermatology professor explained that the similar traits of different medical problems create the confusion. A flaky patch of pink skin could be dandruff, psoriasis, ringworm, eczema or squamous cell carcinoma.

People might not realize that a small blemish is actually cancer, but the Skin Cancer Foundation warns that basal cell carcinoma occurs in 20 percent of the population. The pink bump that marks the beginning of the cancer might be mistaken for acne. Because of the potentially serious consequences of cancer, physicians advise people to see a dermatologist if a spot persists for over three weeks, especially if it grows or changes.

Rosacea afflicts millions of Americans but often gets misdiagnosed as acne. This chronic condition involves redness and sensitivity. Because of its presentation similar to acne, dermatologists as well as patients often decide that the skin problem is acne. Unfortunately, acne treatments tend to aggravate rosacea. Psoriasis and eczema also present diagnostic challenges. They could be mistaken for a flaky scalp or ringworm.

When a person seeks medical attention, the physician has a duty to meet certain standards of care. If medical negligence causes a misdiagnosis, the person could miss opportunities for treatment or receive unnecessary treatments. When a medical mistake damages a person physically, an attorney could evaluate the case to see if a malpractice lawsuit might hold the physician or hospital accountable. An attorney might have access to an independent medical expert who could provide opinion testimony that there was a failure to exhibit the requisite level of care.

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