Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and is the result of the abnormal growth of skin cells that can form anywhere on the body, but most frequently appear on skin that is exposed to the sun. There are more than a million new cases of skin cancer in the United States each year. Although most cases of skin cancer can be successfully treated, it is important to follow safe skin care recommendations to prevent this disease.
Regular cancer screenings can help spot any abnormalities or changes that may appear prior to the symptoms.
To diagnose skin cancer, a doctor will review all symptoms and check the skin for any unusual growths or abnormal skin patches. If skin cancer is suspected, a biopsy will performed on the growth or area of skin in question. Once the results of the biopsy are reviewed, the type of cancer will be determined and a treatment plan will be created. Individuals who experience any skin changes or changes to existing moles or birthmarks, should promptly see a doctor as early detection is valuable in successfully treating skin cancer.
Eczema is a group of inflamed skin conditions that result in chronic itchy rashes. About 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of eczema, including 10-20 percent of all infants. Symptoms vary from person to person but often include dry, red, itchy patches on the skin which break out in rashes when scratched.
Objects and conditions that trigger itchy eczema outbreaks may include rough or coarse materials touching the skin, excessive heat or sweating, soaps, detergents, disinfectants, fruit and meat juices, dust mites, animal saliva and danders, upper respiratory infections and stress.
Treatment involves the restriction of scratching, use of moisturizing lotions or creams, cold compresses and nonprescription anti-inflammatory corticosteroid creams and ointments. If this proves insufficient, physicians may prescribe corticosteroid medication, antibiotics to combat infection, or sedative antihistamines. Phototherapy is a common procedure that uses light to reduce rashes. For severe cases, drugs such as cyclosporine A may be recommended.
Acne is the term for the blocked pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that can appear typically on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Seventeen million Americans currently have acne, making it the most common skin disease in the country. While it affects mostly teenagers, and almost all teenagers have some form of acne, adults of any age can have it. Acne is not life-threatening, but it can cause physical disfigurement (scarring) and emotional distress.
Treatment for acne varies depending on the type and severity of lesions, as well as the patient's skin type, age and lifestyle. Options include:
- Topical Medications
- Blackhead Extraction
Acne scarring can be treated in a variety of ways as well. These include:
Psoriasis is a term that encompasses a group of chronic skin disorders that affect any part of the body from the scalp to the toenails, but most frequently affect the scalp, elbows, knees, hands, feet and genitals. Over seven million men and women in the U.S. of all ages have some form of psoriasis, which may be mild, moderate or severe. In addition, it may be categorized into different types: plaque, pustular, erythrodermic, guttate or inverse psoriasis. Most forms involve an itching and/or burning sensation, scaling and crusting of the skin.Type-specific symptoms include:
- Plaque psoriasis (the most common type): raised, thickened patches of red skin covered with silvery-white scales;
- Pustular psoriasis: pus-like blisters;
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: intense redness and swelling of a large part of the skin surface;
- Guttate psoriasis: small, drop-like lesions;
- Inverse psoriasis: smooth red lesions in the folds of the skin.
While the cause of psoriasis has yet to be discovered, suspected triggers include emotional stress, skin injury, systemic infections and certain medications. There is a possibility that susceptibility to psoriasis is inherited.
Normally the outer layer of skin, which consists of keratinocytes, is replaced unnoticeably, about once a month. This process is faster in people with psoriasis; keratinocytes reach the skin surface too quickly, before they can be properly incorporated into surrounding tissue or even before they are fully mature. As a result, the skin flakes off. This sped-up process is called parakeratosis.
Psoriasis cannot be cured but it can be treated successfully, sometimes for months or years and occasionally even permanently. Treatment depends on the type, severity and location of psoriasis; the patient's age, medical history and lifestyle; and the effect the disease has on the patient's general mental health. The most common treatments are topical medications, phototherapy, photochemotherapy (PUVA), and oral or injectable medication (for severe symptoms).
A cyst is a fluid-filled lump that forms in the deeper layers of skin when a hair follicle becomes blocked. They can be uncomfortable and unsightly but are harmless (benign). Nevertheless, any suspicious growth on the skin should be examined by a dermatologist to determine whether it is cancerous. If infected, a cyst may require treatment with antibiotics. Patients with large or painful cysts may choose to undergo minor surgery. Cysts can occur anywhere on the body but commonly appear on the face and scalp, trunk and fingernails. They include acne whiteheads and comedones, milia, and dermoid, epidermal, trichilemmal and pilar cysts.
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