Posts for category: Skin Conditions
Learn more about psoriasis, its warning signs and how to treat it.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that can impact a person’s appearance, health and quality of life. You should turn to a dermatologist if you suspect that you might be dealing with psoriasis. While there is no cure for this disease, there are ways for a dermatologist to help you better manage your symptoms and provide you with relief.
What is psoriasis?
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, more than 7.5 million adults in the US are living with psoriasis. This immune disorder causes widespread inflammation, particularly of the skin, which results in the development of raised, scaly red plaques on the skin. These plaques may also sting or burn and typically appear on the knees, elbows and scalp.
In some cases, some people with psoriasis may also develop joint stiffness, swelling and pain. This condition is known as psoriatic arthritis, and it’s essential that you turn to a doctor right away if you notice symptoms of arthritis and psoriasis.
What can cause psoriasis to flare up?
Psoriasis comes and goes, so it’s essential to recognize what triggers your flare-ups to avoid them as much as possible. Common triggers include,
- Other infections, including skin infections
- Cold, dry weather
- Injuries to the skin such as a bug bite
- Alcohol consumption
- Steroid use
- Certain drugs, such as high blood pressure medication
- Smoking or being around smoke
When should I see a dermatologist?
If you notice red, cracked or dry patches of skin on your body, it’s a good idea to have your dermatologist look to determine whether or not you could have psoriasis. Suppose you have already been diagnosed with psoriasis. You may wish to turn to a dermatologist regularly if your current treatment plan isn’t working or noticing new or worsening flare-ups.
How is psoriasis treated?
The fast turnover of skin cells leads to the formation of these plaques. To prevent this rapid turnover, there are a variety of lifestyle, topical treatments and therapies that a dermatologist can provide you. Common treatment options for psoriasis include,
- Topical steroids
- Salicylic acid
- Biologics (for severe and treatment-resistant forms of psoriasis)
Suppose you live with psoriasis or think you might be dealing with psoriasis. In that case, it’s important that you turn to a dermatologist who can provide you with a proper diagnosis and customized treatment plan.
Wondering when a rash is a cause for concern?
We’re all going to deal with a rash at some point, and while the good news is that many of them can be treated from the comfort of your own home, sometimes you will need to turn to a dermatologist for medication. Here are the causes of a rash,
One of the most common fungal infections that result in a rash is ringworm. Fungal infections can also affect the nails and hair. Yeast infections caused by the candida fungus can also result in rashes of the mouth, groin, or vagina. Less common fungal infections may result in those with compromised immune systems (e.g., patients who have HIV).
Minor fungal infections may be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal creams or ointments. A dermatologist should treat more severe or persistent fungal infections.
The most common virus to produce a rash is the herpes simplex virus, both type 1 and type 2. Type 1 usually causes cold sores of the lips and nose, while type 2 leads to sores on the genitals. Those with an HSV flare-up may develop a tender rash on the palms. Chickenpox and shingles (caused by the herpes zoster virus) also result in itching, burning, and painful rashes.
Epstein-Barr virus, best known as mononucleosis or “mono,” can also lead to a mild rash that appears within a few days of being infected. If you develop a rash, a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and a fever, you should see a doctor.
Staphylococcus (e.g., folliculitis; cellulitis; impetigo) and streptococcus (e.g., strep throat; scarlet fever) are two common bacterial infections that lead to a rash. Sometimes Lyme disease is characterized by a bull’s eye-like rash surrounding the tick bite.
Parasites that cause a rash include lice and scabies, which can be passed from person to person. Lice most commonly affect the scalp, while scabies can cause an itchy, pimple-like rash that usually appears on the armpits, wrists, elbows, beltline, and buttocks.
Noninfectious rashes are also caused by drugs, eczema (e.g., atopic dermatitis), allergic dermatitis, autoimmune disorders (e.g., lupus), and food allergies.
It isn’t easy to tell what’s causing your rash, but if you are dealing with new, worsening, or severe symptoms or the rash is spreading, it’s always good to turn to your dermatologist for treatment.
How is vitiligo treated?
There is currently no cure for vitiligo but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to target and add pigment back into these depigmented patches of skin. Some of these treatment options include:
UVB Light Therapy
This is one of the oldest and most commonly used treatment options for vitiligo, which exposes areas of the body to light therapy multiple times a week. This narrow-band light therapy works by triggering the production of melanocytes, a skin cell responsible for producing pigmentation in the skin.
Various topical creams can repigment the skin. Your dermatologist will look at the size and location of your vitiligo patches to determine the best topical medications for the job. Common topical medications include corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, calcipotriene, and depigmentation medications.
Steroids are topical anti-inflammatories that can slow vitiligo and allow the body to produce more melanocytes. It can take up to a month to start seeing results. When steroids aren’t the ideal option, which is particularly common if a patient has patches of vitiligo in more sensitive areas such as the genitals or lips, your dermatologist may recommend calcineurin inhibitors.
If the majority of your body contains vitiligo patches, the best option may be to lighten the rest of your skin to reduce the appearance of these depigmented patches. This can be done with a topical depigmentation medication or light therapy. Medications are often recommended in conjunction with light therapy, but if light therapy isn’t being used then your dermatologist may recommend two or more medications to be used at the same time.
You don’t have to deal with vitiligo alone. A dermatologist can be the best medical specialist for helping you treat and manage your vitiligo symptoms. To learn more or to schedule an evaluation, call your dermatologist today.
Pick the right moisturizer: Not all moisturizers are created equal but it’s important to quench your skin, particularly if it’s dry. Therefore, when you purchase a moisturizer look for one that contains lanolin or petroleum. These agents help to lock in moisture.
Other helpful ingredients to be on the lookout for include urea or lactic acid, which helps the skin hold water. However, those with eczema or sensitive skin may experience some stinging when applying products that contain lactic acid or urea.
Skip hot, steaming shower: While a hot shower after a long day might sound like heaven, it definitely won’t be for your skin. Hot water strips your skin of that much-needed moisture. The same goes for when you wash for face. Use warm water instead of hot and don’t linger in the shower.
Shave less frequently: Shaving can certainly be rough on skin, particularly if it is already dry. Therefore, it might be best to shave less frequently, if you can get away with it. On the days you do need to shave be sure to be generous with your shaving cream and to stick with warm, and not hot, water.
Use a humidifier: If you notice that your skin experiences more intense dryness during the winter months, then it might be time to invest in a humidifier. This household product can help add moisture back into the air, so your environment doesn’t suck all the healthy moisture from your skin.
Consider prescription medications: If you are suffering from extremely dry skin, then commercial moisturizers and other local drugstore skincare products just won’t cut it. You need to see your dermatologist for a topical prescription. We can prescribe corticosteroids and other medications that can help relieve the annoying itching and redness you experience with seriously dry skin. If over-the-counter products aren’t helping, talk to your dermatologist.
When to See a Dermatologist
It might seem strange to see a dermatologist for dry skin, but if your dry skin is severe, making you feel miserable and uncomfortable, or not responding to at-home treatments then it may be worth turning to a dermatologist for more effective treatment options.
Don’t let dry skin get you down this season when there are so many ways to get it under control. Remember that if dry skin and other issues are impacting your health, appearance, and confidence, a dermatologist can be the ideal doctor to help you feel better fast.
What is an irregular or atypical mole?
Medically referred to as dysplastic nevi, these irregular moles are benign but having them could put you at an increased risk for developing melanoma over your lifetime. These moles can develop anywhere on the body but are most often found on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Since these moles vary greatly in appearance it’s important to monitor your moles regularly so you can recognize when unusual changes are occurring and call your dermatologist.
What does an irregular mole look like?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) offers a simple ABCDE guideline to follow to be able to spot unusual or suspicious changes in a mole. Here’s what the ABCDEs stand for:
Asymmetry: when the halves of the moles don’t match each other in shape or appearance this could be a sign of a cancerous mole
When should I see a dermatologist?
If you have any concerns about a mole don’t hesitate to call your dermatologist to have it checked out. The sooner melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are detected and removed the better. Of course, everyone can benefit from visiting a dermatologist at least once a year for a comprehensive skin cancer screening. You should also be performing self-exams once a month to keep track of your moles.
If you have an irregular mole or a mole that’s changing in appearance, it’s best to play it safe and schedule an evaluation with a dermatologist who can examine the mole to make sure it hasn’t turned cancerous.