What is a dermatologist and what do they treat?
Dermatologists are doctors with added training that allows them to diagnose and treat disease of the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes. Dermatologists treat skin cancers, moles, warts, fungal infections, psoriasis, acne, dry skin, contact dermatitis and other skin conditions and perform cosmetic procedures. Dermatologists are also surgeons to prevent or provide early control of disease and improve how the skin looks.
What can you expect on your visit with the dermatologist?
When you visit your dermatologist, he or she will thoroughly examine your skin and ask about your medical history. If you need laboratory tests, your dermatologist will explain why you need them and approximately how long it usually takes to get results.
When should I see a dermatologist?
You should see a dermatologist immediately if you have areas on your skin that grow or change shape and color, itches or bleeds or would not heal. In addition, you should see your dermatologist immediately if you have areas that ooze fluid or blood, crust or clot over, and then ooze or bleed again as well as any sore that doesn't heal after 2 two weeks.
How often should I see a dermatologist?
You should visit your dermatologist at least once each year for a thorough skin examination. If you have issues between your yearly visit, including acne, suspicious areas that do not heal, a rash, or an infected nail, you should see your dermatologist immediately. Many skin conditions can be treated easily with a dermatologist's diagnosis and treatment.
What are risk factors for getting skin cancer?
Risk factors for skin cancer include:
Fair skin or skin that freckles, easily turns red, or quickly becomes sensitive after sun exposure
Blue or green eyes
Blond or red hair
A family history of skin cancer
Exposure to the sun at work or play
Sunburns, especially early in life
How can I tell if a skin growth is dangerous?
Become familiar with your skin and your own pattern of moles, freckles and beauty marks. Make sure to look at your entire body every month or two. Watch for changes in the number, size, shape and color of pigmented areas. Warning signs to look for include changes in the surface of a mole; scaliness, oozing, bleeding or the appearance of a new bump; spread of a pigment from the border of a mole into the surrounding skin; change in sensation (i.e., itchiness, tenderness, pain). Consult a dermatologist promptly if any changes are observed.
Can melanoma spread? Is it dangerous?
If it's left untreated, melanoma can spread and be life threatening; however, if it is found and treated in its early stages, melanoma is curable. Other skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma are curable or manageable. To protect your health and find skin cancer early, be sure to see your dermatologist each year or sooner if you have a suspicious spot on your skin. This is especially if you have numerous sunburns as a child and someone with extensive sun exposure and sun damage skin.
How is skin cancer treated?
Skin cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer. If you have a basal cell tumor, the extent of your surgery will depend on your age and health as well as the type, size, location, and depth of your tumor. Melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma are typically removed (or excised) surgically. Mohs micrographic surgery is a precise technique for removing skin cancer that helps preserve healthy tissue. Other techniques for treating skin cancer include curettage and electrosurgery, cryosurgery, radiation, photodynamic therapy, laser surgery, and topical medications.
What is the best way to prevent skin cancer?
The best way to avoid skin cancer is to limit your exposure to the sun. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. This means developing good habits such as photoprotection with limitation of sun exposure, protective clothing and use of sunscreen.
What are the cumulative effects of sun exposure?
Excessive exposure to the sun can cause your skin to wrinkle, get blotchy, get leathery in texture, be less flexible, and be prone to bruising and skin cancer.
How do I protect myself from the sun?
1. Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, including lips.
2. Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses if possible.
3. Seek shade. The sun's rays are strongest between the hours of 10 a.m and 4 p.m.
4. Use extra caution near water, snow and sand because they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, increasing risk of sunburn.
5. Protect children from sun exposure.
6. Get vitamin D through vitamin supplements. Don't seek the sun.
7. Avoid tanning beds.
Which sunscreen should I use?
The best sunscreen for you depends on your skin type; however, any sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more is a good place to start.
Use a sunblock with a broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet (UVB) rays. Re-apply every two hours and after expose to water through swimming or sweating.
People who are sensitive to sunscreens should look for chemical-free sunscreens. These products typically contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that reflect rather than absorb the sun's rays. They are usually much less likely to cause a skin reaction.
Ask your dermatologist if he or she recommends a special sunscreen for your skin type.
What are the best moisturizers, soaps, or cosmeceuticals?
Petrolatum, an ingredient in many lotions, creams and ointments, is an excellent moisturizer. Other ingredients such as urea, alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acid, and ammonium lactate help the skin hold water.
How do you treat dry, itchy skin?
Dry, itchy skin can be treated with a moisturizer after bathing while the skin is still damp. Petrolatum, an ingredient in many lotions, creams and ointments, is an excellent moisturizer. Other ingredients such as urea, alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acid, and ammonium lactate help the skin hold water.
What can I use to treat wrinkles and age spots?
There are some promising treatments for aging skin. Retinoic acid, a cream that has been used successfully in treating acne, has been shown to improve the surface texture of the skin. Alpha hydroxy acids have shown promise in reversing some of the effects of the sun. Over-the-counter wrinkle creams and lotions may help dry skin and make it look and feel better, however they do nothing to prevent or reverse wrinkles.
What is a Nevus?
A Nevi is a mole. Moles are spots on the skin, most of which are present by age 20. They are usually round with a sharply defined border and uniform color. They may be flat or raised. They should always maintain their symmetrical character and even coloring.
No treatment is necessary unless a mole appears to be abnormal. If a mole is or become abnormal – is asymmetrical, has an irregular border or color, or a diameter bigger than a pencil eraser - a skilled medical evaluation is essential to check for skin cancer or melanoma.
What is a Birthmark?
Most birthmarks are harmless and require no treatments. They are discolorations on the face or other part of the body. Among the most common are hemangioma-red in color, soft and raised; port-wine stains– purple-red in color; and salmon patches, or nevus simplex (also known as “stork bites”) –salmon-colored patches that appear on 50 to 70 percent of healthy newborns.
Visible marks on, discoloration of the skin that appear at birth or within several months of birth. Some birthmarks may grow and then fade. Many birthmarks are harmless and require no medical treatment. Laser treatment can be used to treat port-wine stains. New rashes should be evaluated.
Are topical steroids safe for children?
Certain skin rashes require the use of topical steroids. Under the direction and care of a dermatologist especially a pediatric dermatologist the use and management of topical steroids are safe and effective for children. The safety of topical steroid use in children take into account the strength of steroids, where it is being applied and the quantity and length of time the steroid will be used. Pediatric dermatologists are especially trained with experience and expertise in treating chronic skin conditions that require maintenance with topical steroid.
When Should Parents Start Thinking about Skin Protection?
Right away; the sooner the better. In general it's good to avoid direct sun exposure for infants under 6 months of age. Seek shade and think about UV protective clothing and hats to physically protect from sun exposure. After 6 months old, sunscreens should be used over any area that would be potentially exposed to light while outdoors.
What Sunscreens are Safe for Kids?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved sunscreens as safe for both children and adults. Dermatologists recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 45 or higher. The most important thing about sunscreens is to remember to apply early, enough and often. "Early" would refer to about 20 to 30 minutes before going outdoors. "Enough" would be making sure that you're using enough sunscreen— usually about an ounce, or two tablespoons, over the entire body. Remember to rub in well! "Often" means every two to three hours while outdoors, but more frequently if in water or sweating. Apply sunscreen every hour if you're swimming or more often if you're going to be toweling off, sweating or potentially rubbing off the sunscreen; in those cases, you should reapply as soon as you do those activities.
Who gets acne?
Many people have acne. It is the most common skin problem in the United States. About 40 to 50 million Americans have acne at any one time.
Most people who have acne are teenagers or young adults, but acne can occur at any age. Newborn babies can get acne. Men and women get acne. Some women get acne when they reach middle age.
What causes acne?
Acne appears when a pore in our skin clogs. This clog begins with dead skin cells. Normally, dead skin cells rise to surface of the pore, and the body sheds the cells. When the body starts to make lots of sebum (see-bum), oil that keeps our skin from drying out, the dead skin cells can stick together inside the pore. Instead of rising to the surface, the cells become trapped inside the pore.
Sometimes bacteria that live on our skin, p. acnes, also get inside the clogged pore. Inside the pore, the bacteria have a perfect environment for multiplying very quickly. With loads of bacteria inside, the pore becomes inflamed (red and swollen). If the inflammation goes deep into the skin, an acne cyst or nodule appears.