What You Need To Know About Skin Cancer

types-of-skin-cancer

What you need to know about skin cancer

types-of-skin-cancer

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, making skin cancer the most common form of cancer in the United States.

What are the most common types of skin cancer?

The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. 

Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are highly treatable if detected early and treated properly. Basal and Squamous cell are found in areas that receive sun exposure. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers can present on the skin as a slowly growing, non-healing spot that sometimes bleeds, red scaling or crusting patch, or a pimple that does not heal. 

Melanoma may appear on the skin suddenly as new moles but can also develop within an existing mole. Melanoma is highly treatable when detected early, but advanced melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, which can result in death. 

The five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 99%. Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma. Melanoma often presents as an irregular new or changing existing mole.

How can I reduce risk of skin cancer?

It is important to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Avoid the sun between 10 am and 2 pm and wear sun protective clothing. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every two hours. Most adults need about one ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, to fully cover their body. 

Annual skin exams can help detect skin cancer at its earliest and most treatable stages. These exams can also allow your dermatologist to find and remove precancerous lesions before they develop into skin cancer.

If you notice a mole on your skin, you should follow the ABCDE rule, which outlines the warning signs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
  • Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
  • Color: The pigmentation is not uniform. Different shades of tan, brown or black are often present. Dashes of red, white, and blue can add to the mottled appearance.
  • Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm in diameter when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
  • Evolving: The mole or skin lesion looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

How To Know If You Have Skin Allergies

skin-prick-test

How to Know If You Have Skin Allergies

skin-prick-test

You’ve probably had itchy skin or a rash at some point or another, whether from poison ivy, a mosquito bite, or the chickenpox. But what if your irritated skin seems to come out of nowhere, and worse, reoccurs? It may be a skin allergy.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports that skin allergies account for approximately 5.7 million doctor visits each year. The skin serves as a barrier filled with cells that protect the skin and body against viruses, bacteria, and other threats. Whenever these cells detect a suspicious substance, they begin a chain reaction in the skin that leads to inflammation. The allergic reaction, known as allergic contact dermatitis, occurs when your immune system has an unusual reaction to a harmless substance.

What is Allergic Contact Dermatitis?

A skin allergy, or allergic contact dermatitis, produces a red, itchy rash that sometimes comes with small blisters or bumps. The irritation occurs when the skin comes in contact with an allergen, a usually harmless substance that the immune system attacks. Allergens trigger allergic reactions.

There are several triggers for contact dermatitis including:

  • Soaps
  • Laundry detergents
  • Fabric softeners
  • Shampoo
  • Excessive exposure to water
  • Adhesives
  • Nail polish
  • Topical medications
  • Plants
  • Latex gloves
  • Metals

Your immune system might not react the first time you encounter an allergen. But over time, it can become sensitive to the substance. As a result, your next contact may lead to inflammation and an allergic reaction. Mild cases of allergic contact dermatitis usually disappear after a few days or weeks. But if the rash persists, is extremely uncomfortable, or occurs on the face, it’s important to see a physician.

Finding the culprit can often be achieved through taking a careful history of recent chemical exposures. To diagnose contact dermatitis, it’s best to visit a dermatologist for non-invasive patch testing of the skin to identify the trigger allergen. Treatment with anti-allergy topical and oral medications helps alleviate and limit suffering.

What About Hives?

If you’ve never experienced a bout of hives, consider yourself lucky. While some people may carry a higher risk for hives, approximately 20 percent of people will experience it at some point in their lives.

Hives, also called urticaria, are red bumps or welts that appear to move around the body from site to site, creating intense itching. They can be as small as a pencil tip or as large as a dinner plate, and fade repeatedly while the reaction runs its course. Press the center of a hive that’s red, and you might even see it turn white, referred to as blanching.

Hives can be caused by a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • Allergies
  • Blood disorders
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Infections
  • Stress

Hives can be extremely itchy, not to mention irritating. While they bring an obvious physical burden, they can hinder emotional well-being too, often isolating individuals socially and affecting performance at work and school.

Symptoms of Hives

Hives are often confused with other conditions, but there are a few characteristics that distinguish them — mainly, their movement around the body and their duration. Common symptoms of hives include:

  • Red or flesh-colored bumps or welts with clear edges that may reappear in other spots, but typically clearing up within 24 hours
  • Bumps or welts that show up individually or clumped together, covering a larger area
  • Itchiness, swelling, pain, or stinging around the bumps or welts

If hives last for six weeks or longer, you may be dealing with chronic hives, which can interfere with daily activities. Doctors often can’t identify the reason for chronic hives or why they turn into a long-term issue. In some cases, chronic hives may be related to an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disease or, rarely, cancer.

Contact Windsor Dermatology

Windsor Dermatology physicians can prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms of hives and perform tests to identify the underlying cause. We’re here to help you with skin allergy and hives relief for all skin types. Schedule your consultation with Windsor Dermatology today!

All About Eczema

All About Eczema

According to the National Eczema Association, 31.6 million people in the U.S. have some form of eczema, a common, but not contagious inflammation of the skin. Yet, despite its prevalence, many sufferers aren’t really sure what triggers it or how they can keep the symptoms at bay.

What is Eczema?

Eczema, also referred to as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, recurring, itchy rash that usually develops during early infancy and childhood. The condition causes the skin to become red, itchy, and swollen — sometimes leading to fluid-filled bumps that ooze and crust.

In a recent episode of Windsor Dermatology’s webinar series, Healthy Skin Highlights, nationally recognized eczema expert Dr. Jerry Bagel explained, “One of the manifestations of eczema is lichenification, a thickening of the skin caused by chronic scratching. Some physicians consider eczema more of an itch than a rash because it’s the itch that induces the rash.”

Fortunately, most cases of eczema resolve by the age of 10, but about 10-15% continue into adulthood. Although less likely, some people experience an onset of eczema in adulthood.

“It can happen at any time but it’s most common in kids. I actually think there’s been an increase of eczema in adults,” Dr. Bagel said.

What are the Symptoms of Eczema?

Eczema is a capricious disease that will flare up, subside, and then flare up again without much notice. If you have a red, itchy rash, but you’re not sure if it’s eczema, here are some other symptoms that can help you identify it:

  • Intense itching
  • Red or brownish-gray patches
  • Thickened, scaly skin
  • Small, raised bumps that ooze fluid

With such intensely irritated skin, simple activities like sleeping, working, or playing can become difficult for those with eczema. It’s important to remember that scratching may satisfy the itch temporarily, but it will only irritate and inflame the skin further.

“When the rashes become oozy, it’s probably infected, known as impetiginization,” Dr. Bagel said. “In normal skin, the epidermis usually produces antimicrobial peptides to help us fight infection. With eczema, the skin doesn’t produce enough of these peptides.”

What Triggers Eczema?

The root cause of eczema is not known; although, it’s believed to be caused by an overactive immune system. That said, several eczema triggers have been identified, and being aware of them can help your risk of a flareup on a day-to-day basis. Some of these include:

  • Stress
  • Sweating
  • Hormones
  • Climate
  • Irritants like metals, fragrance, and fabrics
  • Airborne allergens
  • Insect bites

What Types of Treatments Exist for Eczema?

To treat eczema, it’s essential to see a doctor who can evaluate your condition and prescribe the appropriate medication for your mild or severe eczema.

For mild eczema, you can take some simple steps, according to Dr. Bagel:

  • Avoid hot water in the shower
  • Avoid using harsh soaps like Ivory
  • Avoid taking frequent showers or baths
    • When you do bathe, use oatmeal or Aveeno powder, Dove soap, and lukewarm water for 20 minutes
  • Avoid lotions
    • Use creams and ointments like Aquaphor or Cetaphil instead
  • Take antihistamines like Benadryl and Zyrtec at night
  • Avoid going from really hot temperatures to really cold temperatures
    • Wear layers and take them off one by one to adjust your body’s temperature

For more severe cases, a medical professional may recommend corticosteroids, medication, phototherapy, or Dupixent, a monoclonal antibody that’s been FDA-approved for four years.

“Dupixent is injected subcutaneously every other week, and decreases the amount of histamine and T cells, while increasing the number of antimicrobial peptides on the epidermis,” Dr. Bagel said. “Within four weeks, about 50 percent of people will have a significant improvement in itching.”

Another option your dermatologist may suggest is a bleach bath, which can help kill the staph on your skin without having to take antibiotics. It’s important to only use this treatment if it’s been recommended by a doctor.

Visit Windsor Dermatology for a Consultation

You don’t have to suffer through life with itchy or inflamed skin. If you or your child are experiencing symptoms of eczema, call Windsor Dermatology today to schedule a consultation. And if you can’t afford a doctor, Dr. Bagel urges, “Please give us a call and let us see what we can do for you!”

Fillers: What to Know Before You Go

fillers-what-you-need-to-know

Fillers: What to Know Before You Go

fillers-what-you-need-to-know

Has your face lost the youthful plump and volume it once had? Have lines and wrinkles replaced your skin’s supple glow? Well, the good news is, you’re not alone.

As we age, we lose collagen and fat, which ultimately causes our faces to droop. And if you’re like the 2.6 million people in 2018 who were looking for a solution to the natural effects of aging, you might find yourself looking into fillers.

What Are Fillers?

Face fillers, also known as dermal fillers, are gel-like substances (often hyaluronic acid) that are injected beneath the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles that form as we age. This cosmetic injection is a non-surgical solution that also restores facial symmetry and plumps up areas suffering from age-related volume loss.

As with any cosmetic treatment, results do vary, but many patients enjoy natural-looking results with no downtime. Depending on what you’re targeting, fillers can help:

  • Plump thin lips
  • Soften vertical lip lines
  • Enhance shallow contours
  • Fill in acne scars
  • Fill in under-eye hollows
  • Soften glabellar lines
  • Soften nasolabial folds
  • Volumize pre-jowl depressions
  • Lift, contour, and restore volume to the cheeks

You may be thinking, “Oh, that sounds like Botox!”— but the mechanism of action for dermal fillers and Botox are very different. Botox simply “freezes” muscles to reduce wrinkles, rather than actively smoothing skin and wrinkles like fillers.

That said, fillers can be used along with Botox or similar neuromodulator treatments to achieve a more specific facial rejuvenation.

Who Should Get Fillers?

How do you know if you’re a good candidate for fillers? We’ve already mentioned the tell-tale signs, but it’s best to schedule a consultation with a board-certified dermatologist who understands the anatomy of the face before making an appointment.

Do Filler Injections Hurt?

You may experience some slight discomfort as the injection enters the skin. What certainly doesn’t hurt are these benefits:

  • Immediate and visible results in the target area
  • No recovery or downtime
  • Minimal risk (risks do include redness, swelling, mild bruising)
  • Lasting results for up to 6 to 18 months
  • An instant confidence boost!

Do’s and Don’ts of Fillers

Did you finally set your appointment? Let’s run through the do’s and don’ts of fillers, so you know how to properly care for your skin before and after the procedure.

Do

  • Tell your dermatologist if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • Let your dermatologist know if you have a history of cold sores if you want lip fillers
  • Apply arnica topically and continue to take oral arnica at home to help reduce bruising
  • Eat pineapple after getting fillers to help with bruising
  • Put an ice pack on the injection site to help with swelling
  • Take acetaminophen or antihistamines to help reduce swelling and itching
  • Use caution when applying sunscreen and makeup to the area

Don’t

  • Exercise for two days after the procedure or wait until the swelling subsides
  • Rub the treated area unless instructed
  • Itch or pick around the injection site
  • Apply intense heat to the treated area (i.e. hot tubs, saunas, sunbathing, tanning)
  • Drink alcohol the day of the treatment and try to avoid drinking for the two days following the injection

If you’re ready for a personalized consultation about dermal fillers, contact Windsor Dermatology today, and learn more here in the meantime.