Acne affects the skin’s oil glands. The small holes in your skin (pores) connect to oil glands under the skin. These glands make an oily substance called sebum.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata attacks your hair follicles (the part of your skin that makes hair). In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease that causes the skin to become very itchy. Scratching leads to redness, swelling, cracking, “weeping” clear fluid, crusting, and scaling.

Cicatricial Alopecia

Cicatricial alopecia is a group of conditions that destroy hair follicles. Hair follicles are the part of the skin where the hair grows.

Epidermolysis Bullosa

Epidermolysis bullosa is a group of diseases that cause painful blisters to form on the skin. These blisters can cause serious problems if they become infected.


Ichthyosis is a disorder that causes dry, thickened skin that may look like fish scales.

Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus usually affects the skin of the genital and anal areas. The disease can also appear on the upper body, breasts, and upper arms.

Pachyonychia Congenita

Pachyonychia congenita is a very rare disorder. It causes thick nails and painful calluses on the bottoms of the feet. In some cases, blisters also form on the palms of the hands.


Pemphigus is a disease where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the top layer of skin (epidermis). It causes blisters on the skin and in the mouth, nose, throat, eyes, and genitals.


Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes red, scaly skin that may feel painful, swollen, or hot.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a disease that affects your blood vessels. During "attacks," your body does not send enough blood to the hands and feet for a period of time.


Rosacea (ro-ZAY-she-ah) is a long-term disease that causes reddened skin and pimples, usually on the face.


Vitiligo is a disorder that causes patches of skin to become white. It happens because cells that make color in your skin are destroyed.

Selected Research Areas

portrait of Edward W. Cowen M.D. M.H.Sc.

Dermatology Branch

Led by Dr. Edward Cowen, M.D., the branch conducts both clinical and basic research studying the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of inflammatory and malignant diseases involving the skin and the host's response to these diseases.
Maria I. Morasso, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Skin Biology

Led by Dr. Maria Morasso, the lab studies processes that lead to epidermal differentiation and barrier formation, and their role in skin disorders.

Skin Disease News

Spotlight on Research | July 23, 2016

Ion Channel Found to Play Role in Itch Sensation

Two independent teams of investigators funded in part by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeleta

Spotlight on Research | April 21, 2016

Two Drugs That Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis and Blood Cancers Shown to Promote Hair Growth

Two drugs—one used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and another for different types of blood cancers—have shown promise in reversing hair loss characteristic of alopecia areata and related disorders, according to a study in mice funded in part by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). The study was published in Science Advances.
Spotlight on Research | April 5, 2015

Stem Cell-Based Strategies Offer Personalized Approaches For Treating Inherited Skin Disease

Two new studies funded in part by NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

Spotlight on Research | January 5, 2015

New Insights Into How Psoriasis Arises and How It Heals

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by itchy red patches and silvery scales, usually on the elbows, k

Research Brief | December 15, 2014

Serotonin Drives Vicious Cycle of Itching and Scratching

Scratching an itch brings short-lived relief but often makes the itching worse in the long-term.

Spotlight on Research | November 15, 2014

Chronic UV Exposure Induces Opioid Response That is Associated with Tanning Addiction

Prolonged ultraviolet (UV) light exposure results in an increase of a substance known as β-endorphin, a chemical produced by the body that reduces sensitivity to pain and is associated with addiction, according to a study conducted in mice and funded in part by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).