Contact Us | Location
[forminator_form id="5677"]

Diagnosis and Treatment of Actinic Keratosis

Diagnosis and Treatment of Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a scaly, rough patch that develops on your skin as a result of prolonged sun exposure. It appears on the lips, face, scalp, forearms, back of hands, or neck. If there is a spot on your skin that you think could potentially be an actinic keratosis, schedule a skin exam immediately. Getting timely diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of skin cancer and also help ease symptoms such as pain or itch.

How Is Actinic Keratosis Diagnosed?

Actinic Keratosis2 300x200 - Diagnosis and Treatment of Actinic KeratosisA certified dermatologist will first examine your skin and ask questions related to your medications, symptoms, and overall health. If you have actinic keratosis on your skin, a dermatologist will be able to diagnose it immediately.

They may also look for any potential signs of skin cancer. People with actinic keratosis whose skin has been damaged severely due to UV light are at a much higher risk of developing skin cancer.

For some people, dermatologists simply recommend more skin exams instead of treatment, especially if treatment poses a threat of further complications. Effective treatment should be able to destroy all the actinic keratosis on your skin.

Actinic Keratosis Treatment

The right treatment for you depends on many factors such as:

  • The amount of AKs you have
  • The location of the AKs
  • The appearance
  • Whether you previously had skin cancer
  • Additional medical conditions

Here are different options for treating actinic keratosis:

Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery is a popular actinic keratosis treatment where your dermatologist freezes the patches using specialized equipment. The goal is to make the actinic keratosis fall off in a few days. However, in some cases, you may need more than a single cryosurgery session for better results.

The procedure involves applying a cold substance to your patch. Following the procedure, you may see a blister on the treated area, which is normal.

Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is another treatment used to destroy your skin’s top layer. Following the procedure, your skin may be swollen, sore, and red. As the area begins to heal, you will see healthy skin appearing.

Photodynamic Therapy

This actinic keratosis treatment is usually recommended for people who continue to develop new AKs or witness AKs returning after treatment. However, since the treatment is administered in two steps, it can be a bit time-consuming.

 

In the first part, a solution is applied to the target area for a good 60 to 90 minutes, following which you are treated with either a red or blue light. Once the light activates the solution, the AKs can be destroyed.

 

You will be required to avoid going outdoors, especially during the day, for at least 48 hours after treatment. Even on a cloudy or snowy day, UV light can cause your skin to react adversely.

Your dermatologist will suggest ways to protect your skin till you can get home safely. Usually, the second photodynamic therapy treatment is given three weeks after the first one.

Curettage

If your actinic keratosis is extremely thick, curettage may be the right choice of treatment for you. The procedure involves your dermatologist scraping the AK from your skin. They may use electrodesiccation after the procedure to heal the treated area and destroy remaining AK cells.

 

Laser Resurfacing

Laser resurfacing is often used for actinic cheilitis, which is a precancerous growth on your lip. The procedure involves removing your skin’s surface layer. Your skin may feel sore and raw after treatment; however, you will see healthier skin once it begins to heal in a few weeks.

 

Actinic Keratosis Treatment at Home

 

Some dermatologists also recommend at-home treatments. However, they are only done in rare circumstances. At-home treatments usually involve the use of medication as directed by your dermatologist.

When it comes to treating your AKs, using medication has many advantages. One of the biggest is that it reduces your risk of developing skin cancer.

However, a downside is that many patients find it hard to follow the treatment plan. For the medication to be effective, you must follow the directions you dermatologist prescribes. Even if it causes a skin reaction, you should keep applying the medication.

Most dermatologists recommend the following medications approved by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

  • 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cream:The cream is applied once or twice a day for up to 4 weeks. It can be applied to the arms, chest, or back but not the face as it can cause a skin reaction. However, it is not recommended for pregnant women.

 

  • Diclofenac sodium gel:As compared to the 5-FU, this medication causes less of a skin reaction and can still be effective. It is recommended to apply this gel at least twice a day for up to 3 months. Make sure to protect your treated skin from sun exposure by following your dermatologist’s advice.

 

  • Imiquimod cream:Imiquimod cream is a great option for your face and can be applied once or twice a week, so you don’t get crusting or redness. Your dermatologist may recommend applying it for up to 16 weeks.

 

However, if you think that the duration is too long, you can request a different plan. Sometimes, a professional may prescribe both medication and procedure to treat your actinic keratosis effectively. Don’t try to calm your treated skin using any corticosteroid medication as they may prevent your AK treatment from being effective.

In conclusion, there are many ways to treat your actinic keratosis. However, the final decision should be based on your consultation with a dermatologist, who will determine a solution based on your medical history and the severity of your condition.

Measles: Causes and Treatment

Measles is an infectious disease that begins in your respiratory system, caused by the Measles morbillivirus virus. Even though the infection is not considered fatal, measles has caused many deaths worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, there were around 110,000 deaths due to measles in 2017 alone. In recent years, cases have also been increasing in the United States.

It is important to note that vaccination is readily available for it. However, some people cannot receive the vaccine due to health complications such as a weakened immune system. As per the WHO statistics for 2018, of the 140,000 people who died due to measles, most were children under the age of five.

Measles Symptoms

measles2 300x185 - Measles: Causes and TreatmentThis viral disease can even lead to life-threatening complications if not dealt with effectively. Symptoms often appear within seven to fourteen days after exposure, but according to the World Health Organization, they may take up to 23 days.

Some of the measles symptoms include:

  • Up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit fever
  • A runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • Watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • White spots inside your mouth
  • A red rash (appears after 3-5 days of symptoms)

Starting from the hairline, the rash usually spreads down your body. It begins in the form of red, flat spots and goes on to become small bumps. The spots are also likely to merge once they start spreading.

What Are the Complications?

Some complications that arise due to measles can be severe. They include:

  • Loss of vision
  • Severe dehydration and diarrhea
  • Encephalitis ( a brain swelling infection)
  • Respiratory infections such as pneumonia

Complications can get even worse during pregnancy, such as:

  • Low birth weight
  • Early delivery
  • Even miscarriage or loss of pregnancy

The following people may be at high risk:

  • Pregnant women
  • Adults above 20 years of age
  • People with a weak immune system
  • Very young children

How Do Measles Symptoms Develop?

The virus usually enters your body through the nose, eyes, or mouth and enters your lungs to infect immune cells. As soon as these cells move close to lymph nodes, the virus quickly transfers to other cells. That’s how they travel through the body and release virus particles into your blood.

Since the blood travels around your body, it carries the virus to your organs such as the liver, central nervous system, spleen, and skin. Once it enters your skin, the virus can cause inflammation in your capillaries, giving rise to rashes.

However, if the measles virus enters your lungs, it can easily transmit to other people. The infection also spreads through:

  • Touching an infected surface
  • Being around an infected person, especially if they’re sneezing or coughing
  • Having physical contact with an infected person

The virus has the potential to stay active for about two hours in the air.

Measles Treatment

As of now, there is no specific course of treatment for the virus because it’s not sensitive to antibiotics. It can, however, disappear in around three weeks. There are some ways to lessen the measles symptoms once you have been exposed to them, such as:

Getting a measles vaccine within 72 hours of exposure

Getting a dose of immune proteins within six days of exposure

There are also some other ways that your doctor may recommend for recovery, such as:

Consuming plenty of fluids

Boosting your immune system by resting

Taking Vitamin A supplements

Ibuprofen or acetaminophen to bring down your fever

When Should You See a Doctor

It is recommended to visit a doctor if

You have any of the aforementioned symptoms

Your fever rises above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit

You have breathing difficulties or chest pain

There’s cough in your blood

You feel drowsy

You experience a convulsion

Even though a doctor can diagnose measles just by examining the signs and symptoms, they may ask you to go for a blood test for confirmation.

How Can You Prevent Measles

Vaccination

It is by far the best and the most effective way to prevent measles. The two most common vaccines are the MMR and the MMRV.

The MMR vaccine protects you from measles, rubella, and mumps. The MMRV vaccine, on the other hand, protects against measles, rubella, mumps as well as chickenpox.

Children are eligible to receive once they are 12 months old. Some groups that should avoid vaccination are:

Pregnant women

People who are immuno-compromised, such as those with HIV or AIDS, those getting chemotherapy

People who previously had a life-threatening reaction to the vaccine

What Are the Side Effects of Vaccination?

Vaccination side effects are mild and often disappear within a few days. Some of the side effects include mild rash and fever. In very few cases, it has been linked to seizures or low platelet count.

Vaccination is not only a way to protect you and your family but also those who cannot be vaccinated. Any disease is less likely to circulate in a population when most individuals are vaccinated. The concept is also known as herd immunity.

Additional Prevention Methods

Vaccination is not something every individual can receive.  However, it is possible to prevent measles through the following additional prevention methods.

If you’re someone who’s susceptible to infection, frequent hand washing is necessary.

Avoid touching your face if you have come into contact with an infected person.

Do not share any personal items, especially eating and drinking utensils with a potentially infected person.

Avoid physical contact with anyone who’s sick.

In the end, prevention is better than cure, and a hygienic lifestyle along with timely vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from measles.

How Can You Deal With Vitiligo

Vitiligo refers to the growth of colorless patches on your skin. This condition can affect people of any ethnic group, gender, and age. The patches are a result of your skin’s melanocytes dying off. Melanocytes are skin cells that produce melanin, a skin pigment to give your skin its color and protect it from the harmful UV rays. On average, it affects up to 2 percent of the world’s population.

How Does It Progress?

vitiligo suncoastskin 300x199 - How Can You Deal With VitiligoVitiligo starts with small white patches on your skin that eventually spread to the rest of your body in several months. However, for some people, they may remain stagnant and not grow as well. Typically it begins on your hands, feet, face, and forearms but is not limited to these. They can develop on other parts of your body, too, such as the lining of your nose, mouth, or genital areas.

The total skin area affected by vitiligo differs among different individuals. Moreover, it can also affect your hair, eyes, and the inside of your mouth. In many cases, the areas affected by this condition remain discolored throughout a person’s life.

But you must note that there are some complications vitiligo accompanies, such as being photosensitive. This means that the area of your skin affected will be more sensitive to sunlight. Additionally, it is not easy to predict how much the patches will spread or how long it may take for them to spread. In many cases, they may also remain in the same place for many years.

 

Types of Vitiligo

Vitiligo is of many types such as:

Generalized: This is when macules appear on various parts of your body, and it is the most common type of vitiligo.

Segmental: This is when the patches are restricted to a single side or one particular area, such as the face or hands.

Mucosal: This is the type that affects the mucous membranes of your mouth or genitals etc.

Trichome: As the name suggests, it refers to three areas of your skin, one with a white center, then a lighter pigmentation area, and then a normal colored area.

Focal: It is quite rare and consists of macules in a small area. However, for one to two years at least, they do not spread in a particular pattern.

Universal: This is yet another rare type where over 80% of your body does not have enough pigment.

Causes of Vitiligo

There are many different theories regarding its causes; however, they aren’t completely understood.

Self-Destruction: According to this theory, sometimes there can be a defect in the melanocytes due to which they destroy themselves.

Genetic Factors: Some sources claim that genetic factors can increase your chances of having vitiligo. Furthermore, around 30% of vitiligo cases occur in families.

Neurogenic Factors: This theory claims that melanocytes can be affected by the release of a toxic substance at nerve endings.

Autoimmune Disorder: According to this theory, a person’s immune system may have antibodies causing melanocytes to be destroyed.

Regardless of what theories say, vitiligo may also be a result of emotional or physical stress. Furthermore, it can also be a combination of these factors collectively causing the condition.

Vitiligo Treatment

Currently, a cure for vitiligo is not available; however, many treatments focus on creating a uniform skin tone by either:

Repigmentation: Restoring color

Depigmentation: Eliminating the color that’s remaining

Common treatments include

Camouflage Therapy

This vitiligo treatment involves the use of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. The sunscreen should be able to shield both Ultraviolet A and B light. This is how it ensures minimum tanning, hence limiting the contrast between normal and affected skin. Make-up can also help camouflage your depigmented areas, and if vitiligo affects your hair, hair dye can be a suitable option.

Depigmentation Therapy

If the disease is extensive, dermatologists perform depigmentation therapy using the monobenzone drug. They apply the drug to your skin’s pigmented patches, which turns them white to match the remaining skin of your body.

Repigmentation therapy

This vitiligo treatment involves taking corticosteroids orally or topically (as a cream). It may take over three months to show results, and the doctor may also check for side effects in the meanwhile, such as stretch marks or thinning.

Phototherapy

This vitiligo treatment involves the use of light and is suitable for adults or children if the condition is widespread and no other treatment has worked so far. For better results, it can also be combined with other treatments.

A special lamp is used to expose your skin to ultraviolet A or B light during this light therapy. To make your skin more sensitive to light, you may first be required to take psoralen. You can have it orally or add it to your bathwater. Sometimes it is also called PUVA, which means psoralen and UVA light.

Phototherapy may expose you to the risk of skin cancer because of the UVA rays involved in the treatment. However, with UVB light, the risk is lower. It is recommended that you discuss the possible risks with your dermatologist first.

Sunlamps are not recommended for light therapy and are not as effective as those used in a medical facility. They may not be safe at home as they’re not regulated well.

Surgery

Skin graft procedure is another popular intervention to deal with vitiligo. It involves taking skin from part of the body and using it to cover another part. Some complications include infection, scarring, or even repigmentation failure.

Counseling

As a last resort, counseling is often recommended to people suffering from distress due to the condition. Vitiligo can isolate you and affect your overall outlook on life. This is when you need psychological intervention to help you deal with it.

On the whole, it is not possible to prevent the condition as no one knows the causes for sure. However, it is smart to limit your sun exposure or adopt practices to lower the instances of harmful UV light affecting your skin.

What Is Alopecia?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss. Typically, someone with this disorder experiences hair loss in small patches, but others can experience more severe hair loss.

In extreme cases, it may also result in complete hair loss of the entire body. There aren’t strict criteria for this disorder to occur as it can affect anyone regardless of their gender and age. However, the majority of the cases affect people younger than 30 years.

Types of Alopecia

The main types of alopecia are:

  1. Alopecia Areata: While alopecia refers to baldness, areata is a term used for “patchy.” You can develop bald patches on any part of your body, including areas such as:
  • Eyebrows
  • Armpits
  • Eyelashes
  • Beard
  • Scalp, etc.
  1. Alopecia Totalis: People with this form of alopecia lose all the hair on their head, leaving it bald.
  2. Alopecia Universalis: While this is an extreme case of alopecia, it is also rare. In this, a person can lose all of their body hair.

What Causes Alopecia?

suncoast alopecia2 300x200 - What Is Alopecia?Losing hair due to this condition indicates that it has something to do with hair production. Alopecia is caused by white blood cells attacking cells in hair follicles. This shrinks the follicles and slows down the production of hair.

It is not entirely known what causes white blood cells to target cells in hair follicles. However, some studies indicate that it may be due to genetics as people with family history of  alopecia areata is more likely to have this condition.

According to other research, people with a family history of alopecia areata also have some history of other autoimmune disorders such as vitiligo, thyroiditis, etc. Regardless of what different sources say, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support the idea that it may be caused by stress. Stress could be a trigger, but most sources point towards genetic reasons.

What Are the Symptoms of Alopecia?

Even though hair loss is the main symptom of alopecia, you should note how it happens. There are signs that your hair fall should worry you, such as:

  • Small patches of baldness on your scalp or any other part of the body
  • Patches getting larger and growing into a bald spot
  • Losing a lot of hair in a short period
  • Hair growing back in one spot and falling out in another
  • Excessive loss of hair in cold weather
  • Toe and fingernails becoming brittle and red

There isn’t any redness or rashes on the bald patches, but there may be itching, or a burning sensation on the skin right before your hair falls out.

How to Get Alopecia Diagnosed?

If you suspect having the condition, immediately see your dermatologist. They will initially talk about the symptoms and go on to examine areas with hair loss. They may also check if your hair can be pulled out easily. If they unable to formulate a diagnosis, they may examine your nails and check individual hair to see if there’s anything abnormal about the shape.

There are very rare cases where a doctor may recommend a biopsy, which involves removing a piece of skin from your scalp and examining it under a microscope. Hair loss can be caused by another condition. Your doctor may also check for any fungal infection or suggest blood tests for thyroid or other problems of the immune system.

How to Treat Alopecia Areata?

There is currently no cure for the condition, but hair loss can be treated. Here are some potential treatment options:

Topical Immunotherapy

If hair loss happens more than once or there is a lot of hair loss, this treatment can be a viable option. It consists of a chemical dermatologists apply to your scalp to induce an allergic reaction. The reaction is what grows your hair back. It may also cause itching and a rash. However, you need repeat sessions to maintain the new growth.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs often used to treat autoimmune diseases. They can be administered orally or through an injection. It can also be given as an ointment, foam, or cream to rub. The only downside is that it may be time-consuming.

Minoxidil (Rogaine)

This treatment is widely used for pattern baldness and usually takes 12 weeks for visible growth. It may not work well for everyone as not all types of alopecia respond well to minoxidil.

Additional treatments for alopecia include medications used for different autoimmune disorders. However, not all medicines are effective in stimulating hair re-growth.

Oral treatments

For extensive alopecia, doctors may prescribe cortisone tablets. However, they may have side effects, so you should discuss them with a professional first.

There are other oral treatments, including immunosuppressant medicines like cyclosporine and methotrexate. Such medications work by blocking your immune system’s response. However, you cannot use them for a long time due to the possible side effects such as kidney damage, liver damage, and high blood pressure. Some serious side effects may also include infections and lymphoma, a type of cancer.

Light therapy

Light therapy is also known as phototherapy or photochemotherapy. It involves the use of radiation with a combination of oral medication such as psoralens.

Alternative Treatments

Some people choose to deal with alopecia areata through alternative therapies such as:

  • Microneedling
  • Aromatherapy
  • Probiotics
  • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet
  • Scalp massage
  • Low-level laser therapy
  • Intake of vitamins such as zinc and biotin

However, since these remedies are natural, they have not been clinically trialed. Therefore, we cannot know of their effectiveness for sure.

Can You Prevent Alopecia Areata?

Since the causes of alopecia areata are unknown, the condition cannot be prevented yet. There can be many unknown reasons behind it, such as genetics, other skin or autoimmune conditions. However, it’s not necessary for everyone with these problems to suffer from this hair condition.

Moles and When to See a Dermatologist

Moles are more common than you think they are. There is a good chance that every person has at least a mole or two on their body. People with fairer skin tend to get them more often. However, they do not look exactly alike and may differ in size, colour, shape, location and texture.

For many people, moles are harmless and only a cosmetic concern, but it may indicate something serious for some. To keep tabs on your health, it’s important to get your moles checked by a dermatologist.

If you’re wondering when to worry about moles, it is when there is a change in the way it looks over time. Here is everything you should know about moles and when to see a dermatologist.

What Exactly Are Moles?

Also called nevi, moles are bundles of skin cells that produce pigmentation in your skin. For this reason, most of them are dark and brown in appearance. It is believed that genetics play a role in their creation; however, professionals still aren’t sure of the exact reason behind them. If you have a family history of moles, you are more likely to develop them.

Are They Concerning?

ad moles 300x200 - Moles and When to See a Dermatologist

Dermatologist examining birthmarks and moles on a female patient

Most moles are not concerning and develop during childhood or adolescence. They are also likely to disappear on their own over time. However, there is more on when to worry about moles.

Even though most of them are harmless, some tend to become cancerous under certain circumstances. Examining your moles can be an effective way to detect signs of cancerous growth in your skin.

During such evaluations, dermatologists usually look for the following visual cues, called the “ABCs” of moles.

 

The ABCs of Moles

To determine whether a mole is indicative of skin cancer, dermatologists use the ABCDE method. For all the given categories, they check for abnormalities and changes.

A for Asymmetrical Shape

If a mole is benign, it’s mostly symmetrical. However, if you notice irregularly shaped moles, they may be a sign of melanoma.

B for Border Irregularity

Non-cancerous moles are smooth with even borders. If they are melanoma lesions, their borders may be rough and hard to define. The edges may also be raised or notched.

C for Color

While most of them appear in a single shade of brown, if you notice different blue, black or brown shades, it is exactly when to worry about moles. Melanoma lesions also often appear white, red or colourless.

D for Diameter

Cancerous moles have a bigger diameter compared to non-cancerous ones. To determine whether it is a melanoma lesion or not, check if it is close to the size of a pencil’s eraser.

E for Evolution

If you notice any changes in size, colour or shape, you must see a dermatologist at your earliest. One of the main factors in figuring out any type of skin cancer is being wary of these changes. Melanoma lesions can also cause itching, bleeding and crusting.

Even if moles do not have these qualities, they are not necessarily harmful. Regardless, they should still be examined for presenting a higher risk. A mole biopsy is usually performed by your dermatologist to examine it using more resources. It may need to be removed entirely if there is a positive diagnosis for skin cancer. Based on your diagnosis, your dermatologist will recommend further tests.

However, early detection helps in the treatment of any type of skin cancer. In case it is melanoma, which happens to be the deadliest type of skin cancer, there is a 90% survival rate if it is diagnosed in the early stages.

Cancerous lesions should not be hard to detect as they are mostly the “odd ones out” among all your moles. All in all, they should be oddly shaped, differently coloured and also bigger to qualify for being anything other than a benign mole.

When Should You See a Dermatologist?

There are certain factors that determine when and how often you should see a dermatologist for your moles. Some of them include family history, the number of moles you have, the size. Some people may also have atypical mole syndrome, which means that the person can have at least 50 moles with 3 or 4 that are abnormal in some way.

People at a greater risk of skin cancer must see their dermatologist at least thrice a year. Some can even visit every few months; however, lower-risk individuals may take a yearlong break between evaluations.

Self-evaluation

Regardless of how many times you see your doctor, it’s better to keep an eye on signs and symptoms yourself. Set up an appointment as soon as you notice any differences described above in your moles.

To summarize, watch out for the following:

Moles that bother you by itching or bleeding need immediate evaluation by your dermatologist.

Moles that represent the ABCs of skin cancer need to be looked out for. If they run in your family, you may be at an increased risk of developing them.

New moles: Even though not all new moles are dangerous, you should keep an eye on the ones developing after the age of 20. If they develop in parts of your body with the most exposure to the sun, such as your face, arms, back of your hands etc., then it can be worrying.

Most moles may become skin tags over time are not a sign of skin cancer.

The Good News

On the brighter side, most of your moles are harmless, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. As there are many signs on when to worry about moles, people have a better chance of getting a problem detected and treated early. Therefore, always stay ahead of any serious health concerns by receiving adequate evaluations and keep your skin as healthy as ever. Schedule your exam today.

Skin Tags: The Tags Your Skin Can Live Without

Skin tags are harmless, non-cancerous tumors that often develop on the skin. They usually consist of fat cells, nerve cells, ducts, and fibers, along with a covering. Unless they’re on a prominent part of your body, they often go unnoticed. In many cases, they may fall or rub off painlessly, and in some cases, they may burst under pressure.

While some skin tags start and stay small, others may grow bigger. They can range from 2 millimeters to 1 centimeter, and some can also become 5 cm longTop of Form. Here are some common places they may appear on:

  • Neck
  • Groin
  • Upper chest
  • Eyelids
  • Armpits
  • Under the breasts

How to Distinguish a Mole From a Skin Tag

The peduncle is a way to identify a skin tag. Skin tags also usually hang off the skin, unlike moles. Skin tags are also smooth, round, and softer to touch, but they may also be asymmetrical and wrinkly. Some of them may also resemble rice grains. Usually, they are the same color as flesh but can also be darker due to hyperpigmentation. Lack of blood flow can make them black.

Causes

skin tags 2 300x200 - Skin Tags: The Tags Your Skin Can Live WithoutThere are various theories about their causes, but nothing is known for sure. According to some, skin tags result from blood vessels and collagen becoming trapped inside a thick area of the skin, while others believe that they appear due to skin rubbing. They can also happen to women during pregnancy and to people who are obese or diabetic. Other conditions linked with skin tags are high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.

How to Remove Skin Tags

Skin tag removal is usually due to cosmetic reasons as they are harmless. However, they may irritate if they rub against the skin, jewelry, or clothing constantly.  If you want to know how to remove skin tags, here are some treatment options.

Surgical Excision

This procedure involves a sharp circular blade or a scalpel to remove the skin tag. Some healthy skin is also cut out around it, and later the skin is stitched close.

Risks

Surgical excisions can leave a scar, and the site of the surgery can also get infected. Therefore, it’s critical to care for the wound by cleaning and keeping it moist and covered.

Cauterization

 

Cauterization is also a popular technique for removing skin tags. It involves burning them using electrolysis. The procedure does not require any special preparation, but your doctor may place a grounding pad on your body to protect it from any harmful effects of the electric current.

 

Risks

 

The treatment does not have any major risks, but there are chances that you may get:

 

  • Infection- It is minor and can be treated using antibiotics prescribed by your doctor
  • Slight bleeding
  • Mild discomfort- It’s normal to feel slight discomfort after the procedure, and pain medication prescribed by your doctor can reduce it

 

 

Cryosurgery

During this procedure, a spray gun is used to apply liquid nitrogen to your skin tag. After a few seconds of discomfort, you will notice that the target area is frozen. It takes a few minutes for your skin to return to normal temperature.

 

Risks

Even though it’s normally well-tolerated, some pain or discomfort is normal. Some people may experience:

  • Swelling or redness post-treatment
  • Blistering (which is a common response to freezing and goes away once a scab forms
  • Infection (can be treated through antibiotics prescribed by your doctor)

 

Some people can also experience:

  • Scarring
  • Numbness on the treatment site
  • Pigmentation changes

 

Ligation

 

If you would like to know how to remove skin tags painlessly, consider ligation. This procedure involves tying surgical thread around the skin tag to reduce blood flow. As a result, the tag drops off.

 

Risks

There aren’t any serious risks associated with the procedure.

Over-the-Counter Solutions

Over-the-counter or OTC solutions are readily available at pharmacies. They can help freeze the skin tag and make them fall off after ten days; however, professional advice is necessary before using them.Skin Tag Patches

If you want to figure out how to remove skin tags at home, skin tag patches are a popular method used at home. They contain herbal remedies or medication and cause the tag to fall off after applying.

Even though it sounds easy, professionals don’t recommend it. They may claim to be effective and easy on the pocket, but most professionals don’t recommend using them. Essentially, there are three types of patches:

  • Essential oils: Contain herbal ingredients
  • Salicylic acid: It is an ingredient used in acne medication
  • Pressure: They don’t contain medication but apply pressure to make the tag fall off

Before using such patches, remember to consult your doctor to have a more effective alternative solution to your skin tags. Most importantly, remember that the benefits do not necessarily outweigh the serious risks of removing them at home.

A Sign of Skin Cancer

According to the AADA or American Academy of Dermatology Association, some growths may look like skin tags but could be warts or skin cancer. Removing a cancerous growth could cause it to spread and create more damage. Therefore, avoid treating it at home and check in with your doctor as early as possible.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Health experts advise people to avoid removing skin tags on their own as it can cause an infection and bleeding. The safest way is to go to an experienced medical professional, especially if the tag is painful and large. If it is on the eyelid, then you might have to consult an ophthalmologist. Moreover, always keep a check on any changes that appear in your skin tag development, as in some cases, they can also indicate cancer

On the whole, skin tags may seem like a nuisance that you should get rid of as soon as possible. But sometimes removal is not worth the risk, and if it is necessary, we recommend consulting your health care professional.

Tips on Dealing with Age Spots

Age spots, also known as dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and sunspots, are small, dark, and often flat areas on your skin. They are often visible on the sun-exposed parts of your body. However, sun exposure is not the only cause behind them. Factors such as aging and genetics also come into play.

Regardless of the causes, they often appear uninvited. Even though they won’t hurt you, the option of treating them is still available. Treatment can prevent new spots from developing or help the existing ones fade over time. Here are a few treatment options for age spots.

Skin-Lightening Creams and Lotions

Topical creams are one of the most common methods to lighten age spots. However, some products contain mercury which can be harmful to your health. Therefore, consult your healthcare professional and have them prescribe a safe product. Most topical cream prescriptions may contain hydroquinone, cortisone, and retinoids. These creams work to lighten your spots over time.

WHile some people may use skin lighteningng creams for the removal of age spots, anything with the following ingredients can be hazardous to health.

  • Mercury oxide
  • Mercury salts
  • Cinnabaris
  • Calomel
  • Quicksilver
  • Mercuric amidochloride
  • Hydrargyri oxydum rubrum

 

Some of them may also irritate the skin, so discussing side effects beforehand would help you decide on a product better. Apart from lightening creams, certain cosmetic procedures can also treat or lighten age spots. However, discussing options with your dermatologist before undergoing a procedure will help you decide better.

Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery is one of the most effective treatments for the removal of age spots. It freezes them with a liquid nitrogen solution, peeling your dark skin off from the body. If an experienced professional performs the procedure, it can prove to be a quick and effective treatment for age spots.

Prior to the procedure, a dermatologist will determine a patient’s medical history and proceed to conduct a physical exam. This is where patients can discuss risks, outcomes, and expectations associated with the procedure.

Even though avoiding aspirin and blood thinners for a certain amount of time before the procedure is the norm, details can vary depending on your condition. Your doctor may also recommend taking an anti-biotic half an hour before the procedure.

Side effects

Some temporary side effects include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Crusting
  • Pain

Laser Resurfacing

Another highly credible option for the removal of age spots is laser resurfacing or laser peeling. It removes the upper layers of skin by using a wand-like laser instrument to reveal newer cells. Moreover, it gives you a more even appearance by promoting collagen production in your skin.

age spots2 300x196 - Tips on Dealing with Age SpotsAs per the standard, a dermatologist usually reviews the patient’s medical history and proceeds for a physical exam where all the risks and outcomes are discussed. Usually, dermatologists recommend to avoid medications that affect blood clotting, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or vitamin E, for at least ten days before the surgery.

Side effects

Laser resurfacing, just like any other treatment, also has risks associated with it, such as:

  • Crusting
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Discoloration
  • Scarring
  • Infection

Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion refers to the surgical planing or sanding of the skin’s outer layer. It can be a great choice for the removal of age spots as the treated area appears refreshed and smoother. The results often last longer than the other options.

Make sure to discuss the potential risks and outcomes of the procedure as your dermatologist reviews your medical history before doing a physical exam. Dermabrasion candidates are usually expected to stop taking medications, such as aspirin, at least a week prior to the procedure. They might have to skip using some skincare products and limit sun exposure.

Side effects

Potential side effects of dermabrasion include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Tissue damage
  • Loss of skin color

Experts recommend avoiding sun exposure and cleansing the site several times a day after the procedure.

Chemical peels

Chemical peeling is among some of the most popular options for the removal of age spots. As the name suggests, the procedure involves using a chemical solution to remove your old skin’s outer layer. The new skin that appears is usually less wrinkled and smoother in appearance. It is often recommended for fair-skinned individuals.

It’s important to discuss all risks, outcomes, and expectations associated with chemical peels  when you’re discussing your medical history with the professional. Moreover, experts recommend avoiding any supplements or medication that affects blood clotting, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or Vitamin E, for ten days prior to the surgery. They may also be told to avoid medications such as Renova or glycolic acid and Retin-A.

 

Side effects

Potential side effects of chemical peels include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Blisters (expected to peel off within seven to fourteen days)
  • Scarring
  • Reactivation of cold sores
  • Permanent or temporary change in skin color (especially for women who have a history of facial discoloration after being on birth control pills and subsequently becoming pregnant)

Patients might be asked to avoid direct exposure to sunlight for a couple of months. Light peels are also repeated in intervals of one to four weeks, while people repeat medium peels every six to twelve months.

While there are many ways to deal with age spots, it is important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each method based on what would suit your skin best. Many factors come into play when choosing a treatment option, which is why we recommend acting on your dermatologist’s opinion.

Melanoma: The Not So Silent Killer

Melanoma is one of the deadliest skin cancers. It begins in the melanocyte cells of your skin and can spread to other organs if not diagnosed and treated at an early stage. It may appear as a discolored and slightly raised patch with uneven borders. Some common colors include shades of black, brown, white, blue, or tan.

Melanoma Symptoms

One of the most common melanoma symptoms is lesions and moles. It can appear as a new lesion or form in an already existing mole. However, what’s worth noticing is that if it starts in an already existing mole, it usually grows on the skin’s surface before penetrating deeply.

It appears on the torso among men and on the legs among women. However, there is no limit to where else it can be found on the body. Surprisingly, melanoma is uncommon in areas protected from sun exposure, such as the scalp and buttocks.

In some cases, they have more than one color and also an irregular shape. Moles that itch or bleed are also one of the common melanoma symptoms. On the whole, never ignore a mole that gradually changes size, shape, or color.

Causes and Risk Factors

Some of the known causes of melanoma include:

  • Exposure to UV (ultraviolet) light from the sun
    melanoma pic 300x199 - Melanoma: The Not So Silent Killer

    checking melanoma on a back of a man with magnifying glass

  • Sudden sun exposure that causes sunburn

Some of the known risk factors include:

  • A family member who has had melanoma
  • Having many freckles or moles
  • Overly pale skin
  • Blonde or red hair

Types of Melanoma

Superficial spreading

It is the most common type that appears on the limbs or trunk, and the cells grow slowly in the beginning before spreading on the skin’s surface.

Nodular

As the second most common type, it appears on the neck, head, or trunk. It may appear as blue-black or reddish color and can grow quicker than the other types.

Lentigo maligna

It is much less common and develops in parts of the body with excessive exposure to the sun, such as the face. Moreover, it usually develops in older adults and is less dangerous than the other types.

Acral lentiginous

This rare type of melanoma appears on the soles of the feet, palms of the hand, or beneath the nails. It is common among people with darker skin types.

 

How to Prevent Melanoma

Preventing melanoma is not always possible. However, you can lower the chances of developing it by avoiding getting sunburned. If you avoid instances of getting sunburned, you can also reduce your chances of developing melanoma.

You should attempt to avoid outdoor activities in broad daylight, especially if you have pale skin and several moles. However, you can ensure protection against UV rays if you invest in good sunscreens and dress sensibly. In addition, avoid sunlamps and sunbeds.

How to Treat Melanoma

Melanoma treatment depends on factors such as:

  • How much cancer has spread
  • The thickness of the primary melanoma
  • Stage of the cancer
  • Rate of growth
  • Other medical conditions

Surgery

Performed by a surgical oncologist, this is the primary treatment for people with regional and local melanoma. Your healthcare professional will recommend one based on the factors stated above. The procedure mainly involves removing a tumor. Different types of surgery include:

Wide excision

A fairly common melanoma treatment for minor tumors, this procedure involves injecting anesthesia, following which the tumor site is cut out. The doctor stitches the incision, which may leave a scar.

Lymph node dissection

Also called lymphadenectomy, this melanoma treatment refers to the removal of cancerous lymph nodes. During the procedure, the doctor takes a sample of the tissue for a biopsy, looking for signs of cancer. Doctors recommend biopsies when there is evidence that cancer has spread.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy usually involves drugs to stop cancer growth. The drugs can either be injected into a vein or taken by mouth.  Sometimes, it can also be placed in an organ, the abdomen, or the cerebrospinal fluid, depending on where the growth is taking place. The administration of chemotherapy depends on the stage and type of cancer being treated.

Radiation therapy

As the name suggests, this melanoma treatment involves radiation such as high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.

A common type of radiation therapy for treating melanoma is external radiation therapy. It uses a machine to send radiation to the body part with cancer.

Immunotherapy

Used to boost a person’s natural defenses against cancer, immunotherapy involves the use of substances our body produces to fight against the disease. A common type of immunotherapy for melanoma treatment is immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

A few types of cancer and immune cells have checkpoint proteins that keep most of your immune responses regulated. In case cancer cells contain a higher quantity of this protein, it gets hard for the immune cells to fight them. Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy is a way to enhance the ability of immune cells to kill cancer cells.

In conclusion, melanoma is an aggressive type of skin cancer that can be life-threatening if it spreads. Therefore, keeping an eye on any potential lesions early can help you get treated in time.

The likelihood of a person surviving with melanoma is five years as compared to someone without melanoma. Therefore, early diagnosis can ensure that the five-year survival rate is 98%. However, if it spreads to lymph nodes or deeper tissues, the rate can drop to as low as 64%, and if it spreads to distant organs, the likelihood can further decrease to 23%. Therefore, it is important to get medical attention as soon as you monitor any irregular or growing moles.

Sunspots and Sun Damage: Here’s What a Day in the Sun Can Do

Sunspots, or whichever name you call them, are certainly not appealing. Yet, they’re quite common, especially for those living in sunny climes. Spending time out under the sun without taking enough measures can cause sun damage, often leading to visible signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and sunspots. However, sunspots are not synonymous with sun damage.

What Is Sun Damage and What Causes It?

Sun-damaged skin is a result of over-exposure to the sun. Due to overexposure, the heat of the sun depletes the skin of essential oils. Moreover, your skin may also experience long-term changes in its structure and burning caused by ultraviolet radiation. Sunspots sun damage 300x199 - Sunspots and Sun Damage: Here’s What a Day in the Sun Can Do

 

Types of Sun Damaged Skin

Sunburn

It is one of the most common types of skin damage, characterized by skin injury that is a result of exposure to UV radiation. Severe cases of sunburn can cause large blisters or vesicles, while mild sunburn only causes the skin to be red and painful.

Dry skin

It is another common type of damage caused by the sun. This is when your skin loses moisture under the sun, making it appear dry or wrinkled even when you’re young.

 

Actinic keratosis

This is a more serious kind of sun damage that causes your skin to have small, scaly patches with a red, pink, or brownish tint. It often needs to get chemically treated or removed. Repeated exposure to the UV light is often the culprit. It shouldn’t be taken lightly as it often signals a growing risk of skin cancer.

 

How to Prevent Your Skin From Sun Damage

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are a few safety measures you can take to avoid sun damage of any kind.

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours.
  • Cover up any unprotected areas of your skin when going out.
  • Use a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Try to avoid going out during peak hours between 10 am to 3 pm.
  • Wear dark clothes as they block the sun more than white.
  • Be cautious of any medications you may be taking that could make your skin sensitive to the sun. Some of them could be antifungals, anti-inflammatories, or a specific type of anti-biotic. Also, be cautious of any blood pressure medications.

Treatment

The treatment highly depends on the type of sun damage your skin sustains.

Actinic keratosis

For this type of damage, the treatment depends on factors such as the location and size of your actinic keratoses. Moreover, actinic keratosis may or may not be a sign of skin cancer. Consult a doctor for a more accurate diagnosis. They could recommend the following interventions:

  • Shave excision— This refers to shaving the abnormal skin area. Additionally, it can be used as a sample of biopsy for cancer.
  • Topical diclofenac sodium gel—This topical gel is anti-inflammatory. Your doctor may advise using it twice every day for a few months.
  • Topical fluorouracil— This is an anti-cancer drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). It is usually applied directly to the skin.
  • PDT or Photodynamic treatment- In this treatment for sun-damaged skin, the actinic keratosis absorbs a light sensitizing solution that eventually destroys it.

Dry Skin

To treat dry skin, avoid hot showers and hot baths and use unscented soaps containing glycerin. Furthermore, use a moisturizer that contains lactic acid, urea, alpha-hydroxy acids, and/or sorbitol, etc.

Sunburn

Sunburn can be treated with simple home remedies such as sprays of cool water or applying a wet cloth to the burned area. However, if you find them ineffective, use non-prescription medication for pain such as aspirin or ibuprofen; unless your doctor has advised you against it due to other health risks.

 

What Are Sunspots and What Causes Them?

Sunspots are a very common condition among people older than 40 or those with fair skin. They are also known as solar lentigines or liver spots and often develop as flat brown spots after prolonged sun exposure.

Sunspots usually occur on parts of your body exposed to the sun the most, including your shoulders, face, forearms, and the back of your hands. Even though they are harmless, some people choose to get them treated due to cosmetic purposes.

Treatment For Sunspots

Some easy home remedies have been found to be effective in the treatment for sunspots, such as:

  • Topical creams: Creams containing glycolic acid, kojic acid, and hydroxyl acid are effective in treating sunspots.
  • Aloe: Aloe Vera contains compounds that can lighten hyperpigmentation.
  • Milk: It can be used in the form of buttermilk and sour milk to lighten your skin pigmentation.
  • Green tea: The extract of green tea helps in depigmenting your skin
  • Apple cider vinegar: It contains acetic acid that helps lighten sunspots if applied regularly.

However, in a severe case of sunspots, home remedies may not be entirely effective. This is when you should turn to a professional and research the following treatments:

  • Cryotherapy

It is a quick procedure where a professional uses liquid nitrogen solution to freeze off your sunspots.

 

  • Laser resurfacing

This procedure uses a device that sends light beams to your skin layers until the sunspots become invisible. It also enables new skin to grow. However, note that it can take more than ten days for your skin to heal.

 

  • Intense pulse light (IPL)

It heats and destroys melanin through light energy, removing sunspots. It may take multiple sessions to be effective, depending on the extent of treatment you require.

 

This treatment for sunspots is a minor cosmetic procedure that uses needles to prick your skin. To reduce discomfort, the professional may give you a topical anesthetic. The needling procedure induces collagen production to smoothen your skin.Other than lightening the appearance of sunspots, it also helps with acne scars. However, your skin may get dry, flakey, and red for several days.

At the end, prevention is always better than cure. Don’t forget to wear sunblock, drink plenty of water, and seek shade if you’re planning to spend the day under the sun. This is the only way you can keep sunspots and sun damage at bay, and your skin young and healthy.

Chemical Peeling: Your Path to Getting New Skin

A chemical peel is meant to stimulate growth of new cells, enhancing your skin’s appearance on the hands, neck and face. When the chemical solution is applied to the skin, it exfoliates and peels off. As a result, the new layer of skin has fewer wrinkles and appears smoother.

chemical peeling 1 300x200 - Chemical Peeling: Your Path to Getting New Skin

Types of Chemical Peels

Essentially, there are three types of chemical peels:

Superficial peel

This type of peel is suggested for skin with mild discoloration or roughness. The peel works for the face, hands, and neck, leaving it refreshed.

Medium peel

This treatment is done for moderate skin discoloration. It helps remove wrinkles, age spots and fine lines. The procedure consists of glycolic acid application to remove damaged skin cells. It’s also used on rough skin to smoothen it and to treat conditions such as actinic keratosis.

Deep peel

This procedure requires the application of trichloroacetic acid to penetrate the centre layer of skin and remove damaged skin cells. It improves shallow scars, freckles and age spots along with moderate lines. Even though it can only be performed once, it shows dramatic improvement in the appearance of your skin.

Why Do People Opt for Chemical Peels?

Peels are quite popular, and if done correctly, they can you the results you desire. However, it is to understand how different ingredients work on different skin types and the effect they have during and after treatment. Therefore, to have thorough knowledge about what a person may be getting themselves into, it is crucial to have a consultation and analysis and have realistic expectations about the results.

The type of chemical peeling the aesthetician suggests depends on your skin type and the results you want. Some concerns peeling helps address include:

  • Improving skin texture and tone
  • Anti-ageing
  • Reducing lines and wrinkles
  • Cell renewal
  • Open pores
  • Acne
  • Pigmentation and photodamage
  • Brighter skin
  • Skin structure renewal

How Are Chemical Peels Applied?

Light peel

During a light chemical peeling, the professional will apply a chemical solution to the target area using a brush, cotton ball or gauze. Once your skin starts to whiten, there may be a slight stinging sensation. Once the procedure is complete, the professional will peel the chemical solution off and add a neutralizing solution.

Medium peel

During most medium chemical peels, professionals use a special sponge or gauze to put the chemical solution on your skin. The solution may contain glycolic or trichloroacetic acid. Once your skin starts to whiten, a cool compress will be applied to it. You may feel a burning or stinging sensation for 20 minutes. Even though a neutralizing solution is not necessary, you can use a handheld fan to cool your skin. Since blue color is also added in the solution sometimes, your skin may appear blue for a few days following the peel.

Deep peel

You may be given sedation during a deep peel procedure. Your doctor may apply phenol using a cotton applicator. The procedure is usually performed in 15-minute sessions to avoid acid exposure on the skin.

Complications and Side Effects

The following may occur as a result of chemical peeling:

  • Scarring
  • Permanent or temporary change in skin color (mostly for women who are on birth control pills)
  • Cold sore reactivation
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
  • Acne
  • Breakouts of spots
  • Herpes simplex

During the consultation, the possible side effects and complications should thoroughly be explained to the patient. Moreover, it is always a good idea to take pictures before and after the procedure for comparison.

Moreover, risks should always be minimized through:

  • Consultations
  • Good peel preparation skills
  • Good application skills
  • The right aftercare advice

Chemical Peeling Aftercare

 

Aftercare for Superficial Peeling

Superficial peeling is followed by slight redness and scaling, and may require up to seven days to heal. The following can be done in the meanwhile to fasten the healing process:

  • Apply lotion or cream till the skin heals
  • Use sunscreen daily
  • Make-up can be worn the next day

 

Aftercare for Medium Peeling

While medium peels often require up to 14 days to heal, it often takes less time. Moreover, your skin after medium peeling may be swollen or red, and there may also be swelling on the eyelids. The following tips could help reduce any side effects:

  • Soak your skin daily and then apply ointment
  • Take prescribed antiviral medication for 10 to 14 days
  • Apply mild lotion or cream
  • Avoid exposure to the sun
  • Don’t apply make-up immediately (wait for 5-7 days)

Aftercare for Deep Peeling

Deep peeling could require as long as 21 days to heal. The following tips can help make the healing process more effective:

  • Soak the skin four to six times every day
  • Apply the ointment after soaking for 14 days
  • Apply a thick moisturizer for the next 14 days
  • Take antiviral medication (after consulting your doctor) for 10 to 14 days
  • Apply mild cream or lotion
  • Avoid exposure to the sun for up to six months
  • Do not apply to make up for the first 14 days
  • Have a follow-up appointment scheduled to monitor your progress
  • Avoid smoking

How Much Does Chemical Peeling Cost?

Since chemical peeling comes under the category of cosmetic procedures, it will most likely go out of your pocket. Moreover, there is no fixed cost of the procedure as it depends on several factors, such as:

  • The type of peel used
  • Location
  • Provider’s expertise

Deep peels usually cost the highest, while light peels are at the lower end of the price range. However, it again depends on whether you require anesthesia or in-patient stays. As per the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a chemical peel costs about $644 on average.

 

There is no denying that chemical peels help make your skin appear smoother and younger. However, they are not without their drawbacks. Therefore, seek a professional’s guidance before setting up your final appointment. Be clear about your needs and take your professional’s advice into account for a smooth and trouble-free procedure.

For more information schedule appointment or contact us today.

Credentials