Are tans really bad for you?
Tanning is BAD, indoors as well as outdoors. Everyone should be aware of the dangers from overexposure to the sun’s direct rays. Drying. Wrinkling. Blemishing. Skin cancers. The World Health Organization has now declared indoor tanning devices to be cancer-causing agents, in the same category as tobacco. Studies have found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning.
The sun is not your skin’s warm and welcoming friend. True, many people love the warm sun and its rays make us feel good. Ironically, some feel a deep suntan also makes us look good.
And as for that “healthy” tan, the skin color that comes from being in the sun increases the risk for developing skin cancer.
Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the elastin fibers in the skin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily, and takes longer to heal. This gives the appearance of rapid aging.
Exposure to the sun causes:
Pre-cancerous (actinic keratosis)
Cancerous (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma) skin lesions
Loss of the skin’s immune function
Fine and coarse wrinkles
Discolored areas of the skin (mottled pigmentation)
Sallowness (a yellow discoloration of the skin)
Telangiectasias (the dilation of small blood vessels under the skin)
Elastosis (the destruction of the elastic tissue causing lines and wrinkles)
What are the different types of skin cancer and what are the symptoms?
Major types of skin cancer include:
Actinic keratosis — a small, rough, raised area found on skin due to long-term sun exposure. Some actinic keratoses may develop into squamous cell skin cancers. Actinic keratosis is usually found on the face, scalp, back of the hands, chest, or other sun-exposed areas. They may be gray, pink, red, or the same color as the skin. Often, they have a white or yellow scale on top. They begin as flat and scaly areas; later they develop a hard and wart-like or gritty, rough, and “sandpapery” surface — may develop a horn-like texture.
Because 5—20 percent of actinic keratoses go on to develop into squamous cell skin cancer, we encourage patients to have us examine them promptly and to follow our advice for treatment. Pre-cancers may be removed by topical immunotherapy, Blu light photodynamic therapy, cryosurgery, and surgical biopsies.
Basal-cell carcinoma — the most common type of skin cancer. Approximately 3 out of 10 Caucasians may develop a basal-cell cancer within their lifetime — in 80 percent of those cases, on the head and neck. It rarely metastasizes or kills, but it can cause significant destruction and disfigurement. Basal cell carcinoma may look only slightly different from normal skin. The cancer may appear as skin bump or growth that is pearly or waxy, white or light pink, or flesh-colored or brown. In some cases the skin may be just slightly raised or even flat.
In addition, there might be:
A skin sore that bleeds easily
A sore that does not heal
Oozing or crusting spots in a sore
Appearance of a scar-like sore without having injured the area
Irregular blood vessels in or around the spot
A sore with a depressed (sunken) area in the middle
There are a number of treatment options: standard surgical excision, cryosurgery, and electrodessication and curettage (EDC). One of our physicians will recommend one of these modalities as appropriate treatment depending on the tumor size, location, patient age, and other variables.
Squamous-cell carcinoma — usually occurs in areas exposed to the sun, with chronic sun exposure being the strongest environmental risk factor. While the risk of metastasis is low, it is much higher than basal-cell carcinoma. Squamous-cell cancers of the lip and mouth have metastatic and recurrence rates of between 20 and 50 percent.
There are several symptoms, including reddish skin plaque, intermittent bleeding, hardened edges or a small ulcer (often on the lips) that fails to heal and bleeds intermittently. Your dermatologist is the best person to examine, diagnose, and treat any suspicious skin conditions that have you concerned.
Diagnosis is by biopsy. Most squamous-cell carcinomas are removed with surgery.
Melanoma — a malignant tumor of melanocytes (the cells that produce the dark pigment, melanin, which is responsible for the color of skin). Melanoma can occur in any part of the body that contains melanocytes. They predominantly occur in skin, but are also found in other parts of the body.
The most common early signs of melanoma are:
A growing mole on the skin
An unusual looking mole or one that doesn’t look like any of the others (the ugly duckling test)
A non-uniform mole with an odd shape, uneven or uncertain border, or of a different color
It’s a good idea to become familiar with the American Academy of Dermatology’s ABCDEs of Melanoma:
A is for Asymmetry: Draw an imaginary line through the middle of the lesion, either up and down or side-to-side. Are the two sides the same size and shape (symmetrical)? Melanomas are usually asymmetric, meaning one side is unlike the other. Melanomas can also be flat or raised.
B is for Border: The edge or border of a melanoma is usually irregular. The border can be ragged, notched, scalloped, blurred, or poorly defined.
C is for Color: Benign (non-cancerous) moles can be any color, but a single mole will be only one color. Melanomas usually vary in shades of tan, brown or black. Sometimes they can be white, red or blue. They often have a variety of hues and colors within the same lesion.
D is for Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimeters in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller. If you notice a mole different from others, you should see a dermatologist.
E is for Evolution: Does the size or nature of the lesion evolve over time? Though in the early stages, there may not be any tangible symptoms, and sometimes a melanoma will itch, bleed, or feel painful.
There are actually different types of melanoma. One type can first appear as a brown or black streak underneath a fingernail or toenail. Melanoma also can look like a bruise that just won’t heal.
Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers but much more dangerous. It causes the majority of deaths related to skin cancer. Doctors diagnosed about 115,000 new cases of melanoma in 2010. The diagnosis is more frequent in women than in men and is particularly common among Caucasians living in sunny climates. Male or female, Caucasian or otherwise, it’s the most common form of cancer for young adults age 25—29. One American dies from melanoma nearly every hour. Treatment of early-stage melanoma includes surgical removal of the tumor by a dermatologist. More advanced melanomas may require treatment by an oncologist or surgical oncologist. The chance of a cure is greatest when the tumor is discovered while it is still small and thin and can be entirely removed surgically.
If you think you may have skin cancer, you should make an appointment with us right away.
Can acne be treated effectively?
Our physicians are experts at the clinical treatment of the embarrassing, frustrating skin condition known as acne. After diagnosing the condition (mild, moderate, or severe), we’re equipped to provide the latest and most effective treatment approaches to help control the condition. All levels of acne may require prescription medications, topical and oral antibiotics. Complexity of diagnosis and treatment is one reason acne, though often thought of as an adolescent-phase condition, should be treated by knowledgeable, trained professionals.
Can you remove warts?
A wart is generally a small, rough growth, typically on hands and feet (but also on other locations) caused by a viral infection. Some can last for years and they also frequently reoccur. We generally treat them topically, with cryosurgery, applying an acidic compound or blistering agent or, in certain instances, removing by surgery.
What is the difference between dermatitis and eczema?
Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin, i.e., a rash. Characterized by dry skin, irritation, itching, and scaling, dermatitis is often called eczema.
Eczema is characterized by red, itchy, scaly plaques and can affect anyone at any age. There are multiple subtypes and each one tends to have its own specific affected areas.
Atopic dermatitis is often seen in adolescents. Most can outgrow it though some will carry it into adulthood.
Contact dermatitis is due to an allergic reaction. It can occur at any time and can be quite irritating and annoying. Patch testing can help determine if a patient is allergic to something.
Seb derm is a form of eczema affecting the scalp, face, and mid-chest, and back area. It's a chronic condition but can be controlled with topical medications.
The different types of dermatitis are classified according to the cause of the condition:
Contact dermatitis is caused by an allergen or an irritating substance.
Atopic (childhood) dermatitis is hereditary, especially among individuals who live in urban areas with low humidity.
Seborrheic dermatitis (referring to the fatty lubricant matter secreted by the skin's sebaceous glands) is most common in infants (though also found among individuals 30—70 years old), primarily affecting men and found in 85 percent of AIDS sufferers.
Nummular dermatitis, most often found among middle-aged people, is the least common type of dermatitis, with no known cause.
Stasis dermatitis is an inflammation on the lower legs caused by build-ups of blood and fluid, most likely to occur in people with varicose.
Perioral dermatitis, similar to rosacea, appears most often in women between 20 and 60 years old.
A number of health conditions, allergies, and genetic factors can cause dermatitis. Also exposure to any number of everyday irritants, such as soap, detergent, bleach, rubber, metal, jewelry, cosmetics, fragrances, perfumes, weeds (like poison ivy), and neomycin, an ingredient commonly found in topical antibiotic creams.
Treatment can be as simple as avoiding the allergen and irritant that invites the condition. However, much more effective and longer lasting is the professional diagnosis available from a dermatologist, who may prescribe creams containing corticosteroids in conjunction with wet compresses.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, often scaly plaques. The scales are described as thick and silvery and the plaques are generally described by patients as “itchy,” “tender,” and “ugly.”
Psoriasis is not a deadly condition but it can greatly affect a person’s life. Some sufferers insist people do not want to touch them or be near them because they think the condition is contagious. Psoriasis-sufferers often feel that they can’t go out in public, hold jobs where they must be in the public, or maintain personal relationships.
Psoriasis can be treated and controlled, if not always cleared up entirely. Depending on the severity or extent of the psoriasis, we employ different treatment plans: topical medications, uvb light therapy, and multiple systemic agents. As with all other skin conditions, however, trust the physician who has been trained in the most modern state-of-the-art methodologies.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition typically involving the face, often appearing as redness or as a skin eruption similar to acne. It is not chronic and can be controlled with treatment. It is most persistent among people who are fair-skinned or who blush easily, and most common in women. While harmless, rosacea is not without unpleasant symptoms. Those may include a burning or stinging sensation of the face, acne-like skin eruptions that may ooze or crust, and, often, irritated, bloodshot, watery eyes.
There is no known cure for rosacea, but our dermatologists will treat the condition with oral antibiotics or medicines applied to the skin to control skin eruptions. During treatment, we advise rosacea sufferers to avoid sun exposure, use sunscreen, avoid prolonged exertion in hot weather, limit the intake of spicy foods and hot beverages, and reducing stress.