Medical Dermatology

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Scars

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Scars are a natural result of the skin’s healing process after traumatic injury, surgical procedures, acne or other inflammatory skin conditions. This process is influenced by a number of factors including the size and depth of the wound, the location of the wound and the presence of infection during healing. Age, gender and ethnicity will also help determine the final appearance of a scar. Many patients seek treatment for scars that may be cosmetically bothersome and there is a wide range of treatment options available depending on the type of scar one has.

 

  • Hypertrophic and Keloid scars are thickened and raised.  They may also be associated with pain, itching, or other sensations. Some individuals are prone to forming keloid scars more easily. Keloids are more common in those with darker skin and in locations such as the chest, shoulders and earlobes. Treatment includes cortisone injections, laser therapy and surgical removal.  If you know that you form keloids easily there are treatments that may prevent them from forming after surgical procedures.
  • Discolored scars are especially prevalent after the initial healing process is complete.  Red and brown color can accentuate the appearance of an otherwise small and flat scar.  Laser therapy, exfoliating agents, bleaching agents, and cosmetic peels can very effectively blend these scars into the surrounding skin.
  • Acne scars are a consequence of moderate to severe forms of acne. They are a source of embarrassment for many, even years after acne may have disappeared. Any of the above mentioned treatments might be appropriate for acne scars in addition to resurfacing lasers and microneedling. Treatment of underlying acne is vital to preventing further scars.

The best scar treatment is prevention of scar formation.  If you have a skin biopsy, surgical treatment or invasive cosmetic procedure performed at the Center for Dermatology & Laser Surgery, we will equip you with the necessary tools to minimize any scar that may result.

Skin Allergies

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Allergic reactions manifest themselves in the skin in three main ways:

 

  1. Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a chronic skin sensitivity that usually first manifests in childhood.  Individuals are predisposed to having very dry skin, and flares of itchy, red rash.  Read more about eczema here.
  2. Hives (urticaria) appear as red or pink welts in the skin.  They are swollen and itchy and they come and go over a short period of time.  Hives appear in response to any number of triggers including medications, infections, insect bites, stress, sunlight, exercise and topical allergens.  Rarely, physical stimuli such as heat, cold or pressure can induce hives.  Cases of chronic hives may be linked to an underlying medical disorder such as thyroid disease or autoimmune disease, though most of the time a cause is difficult to find
  3. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when an individual’s immune system becomes sensitized to a chemical after it comes into contact with the skin.  There is a multitude potential allergens in our environment; some common ones include fragrances, dyes, preservatives, cosmetics, soaps, latex, metals, poison oak and various other botanicals.  Symptoms can range from mild irritation or itching to severe red rash with blistering and weeping of the skin. Read more about allergic contact dermatitis here.

It can be difficult to differentiate between the types of allergic reactions in the skin, and overlapping conditions do occur.  If you feel you may be suffering from skin allergies we will be able to recommend the appropriate testing and treatment for what is ailing you.

Skin Cancer Evaluation

istock_000016942266xsmallIn the United States there are over 5 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year, which is more than cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon combined.  One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has been steadily increasing over the past 40 years.  

The cause of skin cancer is damage to the cellular DNA. The majority of the time this is induced by ultraviolet light, either from the sun or from tanning bed exposure. Those who are fair skinned, have blond or red hair, have a history of excessive sun exposure, and those who have used tanning beds are at increased risk of skin cancer. People whose immune systems are suppressed by medications, cancers, or organ transplantation experience higher rates of skin cancer as well.

 

These are the three main types of skin cancer in order of prevalence:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma – BCC arises from the cells in the deepest layer (the base) of the epidermis.  It is a slow growing cancer that only rarely spreads from the original location to become life threatening.  It appears as a pearly white, pink or red growth.  It will occasionally resemble a scar and may bleed easily.  Many people do not realize they have a BCC until it has been there for quite some time.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – SCC arises in the cells of the upper epidermis; the layer on the surface of the skin.  It is generally slow growing but may metastasize from particular locations, or if it is left to grow for some time.  It appears as a scaly patch, open sore, or elevated growth that crusts or bleeds.
  • Melanoma – arises from the melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells of the skin.  It can appear in normal skin or within a pre-existing mole. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, blue or white.  With early detection, melanoma is a highly curable cancer but these tumors can be aggressive once they begin to invade the skin.

Early detection is key for all types of skin cancer.  At the Center for Dermatology & Laser Surgery, we believe that regular full skin exams, at intervals appropriate to a patient’s age, risk factors and family history, are vital in minimizing the incidence and harmful effects of skin cancer. All our providers are trained in dermoscopy, a method in which we use a tool to magnify and evaluate skin growths. Dermoscopy has quickly become the standard of care for differentiating benign skin growths from those that are potentially cancerous.  If you have a concerning growth, please schedule an appointment to have it evaluated by one of our skilled providers.

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