Psoriasis is a common, chronic and often frustrating skin condition that causes skin scaling, inflammation, redness and irritation. The exact cause is unknown, but psoriasis is thought to be caused by an overactive immune system, which causes the skin to form inflamed, scaly lesions. These patches of thick, red skin may be itchy and painful. They are often found on the elbows and knees, but can also form on the scalp, lower back, face and nails.
Symptoms of psoriasis are different for every person and can vary in intensity over time. Some people may even go months or years without symptoms before flare-ups return. Symptoms of psoriasis can manifest in many ways, including:
- Rough, scaly skin
- Cracks on fingertips
- Simple tasks are painful, such as tying your shoe
- Brown, uneven nails
- Flaky skin
- Joint pain or aching
- Severe itching
The onset of psoriasis can occur at any age, although it most often occurs in adults. The disease is non-contagious and is thought to be genetic. Because psoriasis is a persistent, systemic autoimmune disease, people with psoriasis will have it for a lifetime. Most people who suffer from psoriasis can still lead healthy, active lives with proper management and care.
Coping with Psoriasis: Your Dermatologist can Help
Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis, but with the help of your dermatologist, you can learn how to cope with the condition, reduce psoriasis symptoms and keep outbreaks under control for an improved quality of life. Treatment depends on how serious the psoriasis is, the type of psoriasis and how the patient responds to certain treatments.
Although moles are usually harmless, in some cases they can become cancerous, causing melanoma. For this reason, it is important to regularly examine your skin for any moles that change in size, color, shape, sensation or that bleed. Suspicious or abnormal moles or lesions should always be examined by your dermatologist.
What to Look For
Remember the ABCDE's of melanoma when examining your moles. If your mole fits any of these criteria, you should visit your dermatologist as soon as possible.
- Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border. The border or edges of the mole are poorly defined or irregular.
- Color. The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white or red.
- Diameter. The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- Evolution. The mole is changing in size, shape or color.
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, including the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles of the feet and even under the nails. The best way to detect skin cancer in its earliest, most curable stage is by checking your skin regularly and visiting our office for a full-body skin cancer screening. Use this guide to perform a self-exam.
- Use a mirror to examine your entire body, starting at your head and working your way to the toes. Also be sure to check difficult to see areas, including between your fingers and toes, the groin, the soles of your feet and the backs of your knees.
- Pay special attention to the areas exposed to the most sun.
- Don't forget to check your scalp and neck for moles. Use a handheld mirror or ask a family member to help you.
- Develop a mental note or keep a record of all the moles on your body and what they look like. If they do change in any way (color, shape, size, border, etc.), or if any new moles look suspicious, visit your dermatologist right away.
Skin cancer has a high cure rate if detected and treated early. The most common warning sign is a visible change on the skin, a new growth, or a change in an existing mole. Depending on the size and location of the mole, dermatologists may use different methods of mole removal. A body check performed by a dermatologist can help determine whether the moles appearing on the body are pre-cancerous or harmless.
Eczema, also called “dermatitis,” refers to several different rash-like conditions where the skin is inflamed, red and irritated. The most severe and long-lasting type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. During a flare-up, the skin becomes extremely red, itchy and scaly. This skin condition can be widespread, or confined to only a few areas on the body.
Eczema is not contagious, although if you have a family history of eczema, your risk for the disease increases. Generally, atopic dermatitis affects infants or young children and may last until the child reaches adulthood.
The appearance and symptoms for atopic dermatitis will vary for each case. Intense itching is the most common sign of eczema, which can lead to severe discomfort and even loss of sleep. Other common symptoms of eczema include:
- Dry, red and extremely itchy patches of skin
- Cracked, inflamed and scaly skin
- Small bumps or blisters that ooze and weep
- In infants, the rash generally appears on the cheeks and around the mouth
Eczema outbreaks are caused by an overreaction of your skin’s immune system to environmental and emotional triggers, such as temperature, chemicals, dust, mold or stress. While there is currently no cure, eczema sufferers can practice self-care at home to help reduce flare-ups. Lifestyle adjustments are the best line of defense in controlling all types of eczema. Goals of treatment include reducing inflammation, decreasing risk of infection and alleviating the itch. To minimize symptoms and outbreaks:
- Moisturize every day to prevent dryness and cracking.
- Limit contact with irritants, such as soaps, clothing, jewelry, foods and detergents.
- Avoid sudden changes in temperatures as overheating and sweating are common triggers of flare-ups.
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
- Minimize exposure to mold, pollens and animal dander.
- Opt for cotton, loose-fitting clothes and avoid wool and other rough materials.
Treatment for eczema begins with a proper diagnosis from your dermatologist. If you are diagnosed with eczema, your dermatologist can explain your type of eczema and can work with you to tailor a treatment plan that meets your individual needs to effectively manage the symptoms.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Fortunately, it rarely develops without warning, and the number of fatalities caused by melanoma could be greatly reduced if people were aware of the early signs and took time to examine their skin. With early diagnosis and treatment, your chance of recovery from melanoma is very good.
What Causes Melanoma?
The main cause of melanoma is too much skin exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays from the sun and tanning booths can damage skin cells, causing the cells to grow abnormally. The best way to prevent melanoma is to reduce the amount of time you spend in the sun, wearing hats and protective clothing when possible and generously applying sunscreen.
Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, including the soles of your feet or your fingernails. In women, melanoma is most often seen on the lower legs, and in men, it most commonly forms on the upper back.
Anyone can get melanoma, but people with the following traits are at a higher risk:
- Fair skin
- Excessive sun exposure during childhood
- Family history of melanoma
- More than 50 moles on the skin
- Several freckles
- Sun-sensitive skin that rarely tans or burns easily
Melanoma can appear suddenly as a new mole, or it can grow slowly, near or in an existing mole. The most common early signs of melanoma are:
- An open sore that repeatedly heals and re-opens
- A mole or growth that takes on an uneven shape, grows larger or changes in color or texture
- An existing mole that continues to bleed, itch, hurt, scab or fade
Because melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of the body, it is important to find melanoma as early as possible. The best way to detect changes in your moles and skin markings is by doing self-examinations regularly. If you find suspicious moles, have them checked by your dermatologist.
Visiting your dermatologist for a routine exam is also important. During this skin cancer "screening," your dermatologist will discuss your medical history and inspect your skin from head to toe, recording the location, size and color of any moles. Melanoma may be the most serious form of skin cancer, but it is also very curable when detected early.
The telltale signs of aging skin—wrinkles, puffy eyes, age spots—may start to appear as we grow older. We can’t fight the aging process, but we can take steps now to help reduce and prevent wrinkles from appearing prematurely.
Many factors can contribute to the onset of wrinkles, which are frequently produced by years of unprotected sun exposure in combination with each person’s unique genetic predisposition. Wrinkles are a by-product of the aging process. As we age, our skin loses its elasticity, is less capable of retaining moisture and is slower to heal. All of these contribute to the development of wrinkles and sagging skin.
How Can I Slow the Progression of Wrinkles?
Daily skincare and proper sun protection are important factors in slowing the aging process, diminishing fine lines and minimizing wrinkles.
- Take your vitamins. Many vitamins are good for the skin. Vitamin C, a natural antioxidant found in citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, can help reduce the appearance of sun damage.
- Apply sunscreen. Protecting yourself from sun exposure can help prevent the progression of fine lines. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 to protect against harmful UV rays.
- Moisturize. Dry skin causes the skin to look dull and aged. To prevent dry skin, apply moisturizer every day.
- Get your beauty sleep. When your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it produces excess cortisol, a hormone that breaks down skin cells. Keep your skin looking and feeling young by getting at least seven hours of sleep every night.
- Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds emit harmful UVA rays and are never 'safe' alternatives to the sun.
- Take care of your hands. Our hands are often the first part of our body to reveal signs of aging, as they are the most used and exposed parts of the body. Protect the hands by wearing gloves, moisturizing and applying sunscreen.
- Quit smoking. Smoking may damage more than your lungs—it causes skin aging and wrinkles around the mouth.
Like it or not, wrinkles are a natural part of aging. Even the most diligent skincare regimen or the most expensive wrinkle cream won’t totally eliminate your fine lines. You can significantly reduce the appearance of your wrinkles, however. Start taking care of your skin now, embrace your age and love the skin you’re in!
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