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
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Skin Care
- Laser Treatments
Acne scarring can be treated in a variety of ways as well. These include:
- Chemical Peels
- Soft Tissue Fillers
- Laser/Pulsed Light Treatments
Eczema is a term used to describe 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 cyclosporin A may be recommended.
Actinic Keratoses (AKs) are lesions on the surface layer of the skin (epidermis) caused by chronic exposure to sunlight, particularly ultraviolet light. AKs typically manifest as rough or scaly skin, bumps, mottled patterns and cutaneous horns. They may appear anywhere on the skin surface exposed to sunlight, but common areas include the face (including ears and lips), neck, arms and hands. Lesions range in size from a pinpoint to several centimeters in diameter and may be yellow, brown, red or violet, smooth, wrinkled or furrowed.
Actinic keratoses can signal the onset of skin cancer; they can become squamous cell carcinomas, the second-most common form of epidermal skin cancer. Depending on a number of factors such as the size, location and severity of lesions, as well as the patient’s age, health, medical history, occupation, expectations and preferences, treatment for AKs may take the form of traditional surgical excision, cryosurgery (freezing), curettage (scraping), topical medications, laser treatment, chemical peels, dermabrasion and pulsed light therapy. Routine re-examinations every few months and limitation of exposure to direct sunlight are recommended.
Age spots, also called liver spots, are flat brown patches on the skin that have darkened in color (“pigmented”) 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.
Repeated exposure to sunlight, especially ultraviolet light, can cause a variety of cosmetic and medical problems in our skin. These include telangiectasia (red or purple “spider veins”), uneven pigmentation, lines and wrinkles, thinning of skin, loss of skin elasticity, and melanoma and other skin cancers. The damage our skin suffers from sunlight is cumulative and often gradual, so the effects appear as we age and worsen with time.
Adequate protection from the sun and avoidance of other sources of ultraviolet light such as tanning salons are an important part of preventing this damage. However, there are ways to cosmetically improve damage that has already been suffered. Injectable fillers such as BOTOX®, Restylane®, collagen and Hylaform fill out lines and wrinkles to give the skin a fuller, smoother look and feel. Phototherapy can reduce the appearance of uneven pigmentation, spider veins and other vascular lesions. Laser treatments may also be effective for these conditions. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion remove the surface layer of skin to expose a fresh, healthier, younger-looking layer beneath.
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Risk factors include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
The most common skin cancers are:
- Basal cell carcinoma – 80-85% of all skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma affects cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis.
- Squamous cell carcinoma – 10% of all skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma affects cells in the middle layer of the epidermis.
- Melanoma – 5% of all skin cancers. Melanoma is a rare but very dangerous type of skin cancer. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease.
Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading.
Mohs surgery involves the systematic removal and analysis of thin layers of skin at the tumor site until the last traces of cancerous tissue have been eliminated. The immediate and complete microscopic examination and evaluation of excised tissue is what differentiates Mohs surgery from other cancer removal procedures. Only cancerous tissue is removed, minimizing both post-operative wound size and the chance of re-growth.
Mohs surgery is most commonly used for basal and squamous cell carcinomas, although it can be recommended for the eradication of other cancers such as melanoma. High precision makes Mohs surgery ideal for the elimination of cancers in cosmetically important areas such as the face (nose, eyelids, lips, hairline), hands, feet and genitals.