Full-body skin exams are an important tool in screening patients for benign or cancerous lesions that they may not have been able to see or recognize on their own. From head to toe and back to front, we inspect the skin for any suspicious growths.
This quick and painless preventive measure is an invaluable tool in the early detection of skin cancer as well as many other dermatological conditions.
Moles and other birthmarks are benign pigmented spots or patches of skin that range in color from tan, brown and black (moles) to red, pink or purple (vascular lesions, such as strawberry hemangiomas or port wine stains). Though most birthmarks are harmless, they may develop into cancer. Moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by a professional immediately:
- Larger than six millimeters
- Itches or bleeds
- Rapidly changes in color, size or shape
- Has multiple colors
- Is located where it can’t be easily monitored, such as on the scalp
Depending on their depth, location and color, as well as the patient’s skin type, age and other factors, treatment for benign but unattractive birthmarks may take the form of laser or pulsed light therapy, microdermabrasion or surgical excision.
Age spots, also called liver spots, are flat brown patches on the skin that have darkened in color after exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light. They are commonly seen in people over the age of 40 on areas of skin that are frequently exposed to sunlight, such as the hands, shoulders, forearms, face and forehead. Age spots may look unattractive, but age spots are painless and harmless, although their dark color can delay the diagnosis of some skin cancers.
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 life. Options include:
- Topical Medications
- Blackhead Extraction
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Skin Care
- Blu-U Light Treatments
Acne scarring can be treated in a variety of ways as well. These include:
- Chemical peels
- Microlaser peel
- IPL/PDL laser treatments
- Soft tissue fillers
Warts and molluscum contagiosum develop on the skin as a result of a viral infection that is often spread through skin-to-skin contact. Viruses that cause warts are called human papillomavirus (HPV). You are more likely to get one of these viruses if you cut or damage your skin in some way. People can get molluscum by sharing towels and clothing. Wrestlers and gymnasts may get it from touching infected mats. Although these lesions are benign, they can occasionally have malignant potential and should be examined immediately.
Nail fungal infections occur under the fingernail or toenail as a result of exposure to a warm, moist environment like sweaty shoes or shower floors. These fungal infections usually begin as a yellow or white spot under the nail, and develop into thickened, brittle and distorted nails. They may also turn your nails a darker color as a result of the debris building up. Nail fungal infections occur more frequently in toenails because they are more often confined to dark, moist environments.
Nail fungal infections should be treated immediately as they may cause permanent damage and are likely to recur. Treatment options include oral anti-fungal medications, anti-fungal nail polish or other topical medications. The nail may need to be removed in severe infections.
Hair loss can occur as a result of aging, heredity, medications or an underlying medical condition, and can affect men and women of all ages. It may leave you with pattern baldness, patchy spots or thinned hair. Most people are troubled by this undesired change to their appearance and may be frustrated that there is no cure available for this condition.
While many people are forced to deal with hair loss and let the condition progress naturally, there are several treatments available to help promote hair growth or hide hair loss. The best treatment option for each patient depends on the location and extent of the hair loss, but may include hair growth medications, wigs and hairpieces, and hair transplant or scalp reduction surgery.
Normal skin contains cells called melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, the substance that gives skin its color.
Skin with too much melanin is called hyperpigmented skin. Causes may include:
- Skin inflammation (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation)
- Use of certain drugs (such as minocycline and birth control pills)
- Endocrine diseases such as Addison disease
- Hemochromatosis (iron overload)
- Sun exposure
Skin with too little melanin is called hypopigmented skin. Possible causes are:
- Skin inflammation
- Certain fungal infections (such as tinea versicolor)
- Pityriasis alba
- Certain medicines
- Skin condition called idiopathic guttate hyomelanosis
Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that causes redness and swelling on the face. The scalp, neck, ears, chest, back and/or eyes may also be affected. Symptoms range from red pimples, lines and visible blood vessels to dry or burning skin and a tendency to flush easily.
Many people find that the emotional effects of rosacea such as low self-confidence and avoidance of social situations are more difficult to handle than the physical ones. Although it can affect anyone, rosacea typically appears in light-skinned, light-haired adults aged 30-50.
It is not yet known what causes rosacea and the disease is not curable, although it can be treated with topical and oral medications, laser therapy or laser surgery.
If you would like more information about Medical Dermatology or to schedule an appointment, feel free to fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at (833) DOC-DERM.