Diseases of the skin, hair and nails
• Eczema / Atopic Dermatitis
• Hair Loss
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. Approximately 40 million to 50 million Americans have acne. Acne can occur at any age, but most people with acne are teenagers and young adults.
The major causes of acne are: excess oil, clogged pores, bacteria and inflammation. Excess washing and scrubbing will not prevent nor cure acne, but these can irritate the skin and make acne worse. Dermatologists recommend gently washing the face one or twice a day with a mild cleanser and lukewarm water.
Waiting for acne to clear on its own can be frustrating and can lead to permanent scarring, poor self-image, depression and anxiety. Dermatologists offer many effective treatments. The medicine in the plan may be topical (applied to the skin) or systemic (works inside the body).
Acne is not curable, but it is controllable. Proper treatment can prevent scars and help you to feel and look your best. Seeing your dermatologist helps ensure that you are getting exceptional acne care.
Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. Warts are usually skin colored and feel rough to the touch, but they can be dark, flat and smooth. The appearance of warts depends on where it is growing.
There are several different kinds of warts including: common warts, foot (plantar) warts and flat warts. Warts are passed from person to person, sometimes indirectly. The risk of catching hand, foot or flat warts from another person is small.
Warts that are bothersome, painful, or rapidly multiplying should be treated. Dermatologists are trained to use a variety of treatments, depending on the age of the patient and the type of wart.
Psoriasis is a persistent inflammatory skin condition. Some cases are so mild that people don’t know they have it, and alternately, some severe cases may cover large areas of the body. Dermatologists can help even the most severe cases.
Psoriasis is not contagious, so it cannot be passed from one person to another. Psoriasis does, however, have a tendency to run in families, meaning it can be an inherited condition.
While psoriasis cannot be cured, a number of treatment options can help control psoriasis. A patient’s health, age, lifestyle, and the severity of the psoriasis determine which treatment options are appropriate. Gaining control over psoriasis may require different types of treatment and several visits to your dermatologist.
To help patients control psoriasis, a dermatologist may prescribe medications to apply to the skin. These medications may contain cortisone compounds, retinoids, tar, or anthralin. These may be used in combination with natural sunlight or another ultraviolet (UV) light treatment. The more severe forms of psoriasis may require oral or injectable medications with or without UV light treatment.
A common skin condition, atopic dermatitis is frequently described as “the itch that rashes.” Intensely itchy patches form. These patches can be widespread or limited to a few areas. Scratching often leads to redness, swelling, cracking, “weeping” of clear fluid, crusting, and scaling of the skin. Constant scratching can cause skin damage, infection, and sleep loss.
Treating the skin may involve applying a corticosteroid or an immune-modifying medication, which can help reduce the inflammation and itch. Sometimes other medication such as an antihistamine can be beneficial. If the patient has an infection, which is common in patients with atopic dermatitis, an antibiotic will be prescribed. A dermatologist also may recommend ultraviolet (UV) light therapy or another treatment.
Lifestyle changes include frequently applying an appropriate moisturizer, avoiding certain clothing, and using eczema-friendly bathing techniques. A dermatologist can offer many other tips that can help.
Hair Loss (Alopecia areata)
Alopecia areata (AA) causes hair loss in small, round patches that may go away on their own, or may last for many years. AA occurs world-wide in both genders and in every ethnic group. Children and young adults are most frequently affected, but persons of all ages are susceptible. One in five persons with AA has a family member who also has the disease.
AA is not contagious. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks itself, in this case, the hair follicles. The cause is not known. A person’s particular genetic makeup combined with other factors triggers AA. Although your dermatologist may know by examining your scalp that you have AA, occasionally, a scalp biopsy is helpful in confirming the diagnosis.
There is no cure for AA. While treatments may promote hair growth, new patches of hair loss may continue to appear. The treatments are not a cure. Only the body, itself, can eventually turn off the condition. Wigs, caps, hats, or scarves are important options. Wearing a head covering does not interfere with hair regrowth. This may be a good choice for people with extensive scalp hair loss who do not have enough hair to cover it.
The emotional aspects of living with hair loss can be challenging, especially in a society that regards hair as a sign of youth and good health. It is reassuring that alopecia areata does not affect general health, and should not interfere with your ability to achieve all of your life goals at school, in sports, in your career, and in raising a family. Immunomodulators and other therapies are being explored and researchers continue to advance the treatments for alopecia areata.
Urticaria (hives) are localized, pale, itchy, pink wheals (swellings) that can burn or sting. They may occur singularly or in groups on any part of the skin; they are part of an allergic reaction and are very common. Most episodes of hives disappear quickly in a few days to a few weeks. Occasionally, a person will have them for many months or years. New hives may develop as old ones fade. Hives can vary in size and can form as small as a pencil eraser to as large as a dinner plate, and may join to form even larger swellings.
The best treatment for urticaria is to find and eliminate the cause whenever possible. Antihistamines are prescribed to provide relief and work best if taken on a regular schedule to prevent hives from forming. There are many antihistamines available. No one antihistamine works for everyone. The dermatologist may use combinations to control the urticaria. In severe cases, an injection of epinephrine (adrenalin) may be needed. Cortisone may also bring dramatic relief, but its use must be limited to short periods of time.
A common skin disease, rosacea frequently begins as a tendency to flush or blush easily. As rosacea progresses, people often develop persistent redness in the center of the face. This redness may gradually spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin. Even the ears, chest, and back can be affected.
Early rosacea can be difficult to recognize. When rosacea first develops, the redness tends to come and go. Many people may consider this nothing more than flushing that lasts longer than normal. The visible blood vessels can be seen as an inevitable sign of aging. If papules and pustules appear, these can be mistaken for adult acne. When the skin returns to its normal color and other signs such as pimples and visible blood vessels appear, it is best to see a dermatologist. Left untreated, rosacea can worsen and become more difficult to treat. Self-diagnosis and at-home treatment are not recommended. Some over-the-counter treatments can worsen rosacea.
To effectively manage rosacea, dermatologists usually recommend a combination of treatments tailored to the individual patient. This approach can stop rosacea from progressing and sometimes reverses rosacea.
This list is not inclusive of the diseases that dermatologists treat, but only a few. Dermatologists specialize in treating the medical, surgical and cosmetic conditions of the skin, hair and nails.