Monday, August 29, 2011

Melanoma and Young Women

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune discusses the sobering fact that melanoma is now the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in young women. Incidents of melanoma have been on the rise in the last 30 years, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, and the rate among white women aged 15 to 39 has grown by an average of three percent a year for the last 20 years. The article goes on to state that melanoma “is the most common form of cancer for women aged 25 to 29…and the second most common for females 15 to 30, together the prime age range of tanning salon customers.”

This trend parallels a rise in the use of tanning salons and time spent tanning on the beach. Most women report that after lying in a tanning bed they feel more confident and beautiful, thus leading to more frequent visits. The article states that “despite the warnings and growing body of scientific evidence, young women continue to go to tanning salons, in part, some experts believe, because the tanning salons play down the scientific evidence and play up the benefits of vitamin D from ultraviolet rays."

Most young women do not realize the seriousness of this cancer. In intense circumstances, melanoma may need to be treated with chemotherapy and frequent visits to the dermatologist for the remainder of their lives.

Stay away from tanning beds, wear sunscreen and remember most skin cancers are treatable when caught early. Visit your dermatologist today.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

Our office sees a significant increase in poison ivy and poison oak cases at this time of year. With many individuals enjoying the summer weather and spending more time outdoors, they may unknowingly come into contact with these pesky plants.

When you come into contact with poison oak or ivy, the oil, called urushiol, rubs onto your body and almost immediately begins to soak into your skin. Most people are susceptible to an allergic reaction from this oil. If you have encountered either of the plants, it is recommended that you immediately wash the area with soap; this can remove up to 50% of the oil if washed in the first 10 minutes, greatly decreasing your degree of irritation.

After you have been exposed, you can expect to see a rash forming within two days of exposure. The rash typically will last about two weeks and will be itchy and cause significant irritation. Once you have poison oak or ivy, it is not contagious, but ensure you wash anything else that may have come in contact with the oil.

Contrary to popular belief, the fluid that is sometimes seen oozing from the rash does not cause the rash to spread. New areas of irritation showing up on the skin is usually due to having a lesser amount of the oil touching those parts of the skin, thus taking longer for the rash to show up. Another cause of new irritation or rash can be a result of transfer of the oil from clothing or pets. If trace amounts of the oil touch the skin after the initial exposure, it can prolong the rash or make it appear that it is spreading.

Cool wet clean washcloths or gauze applied to the area and allowed to dry on the skin will help especially if it is oozing. Applying calamine lotion or hydrocortisone as well may help the itching. If large areas of the body or swelling occur, then its time to make an appointment so that we can prescribe stronger medications to speed up recovery.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Get the Facts about Staph

As your child goes back to school and fall sports begin, make sure you are informed about staph infections.

Staph infections are caused by a type of bacteria called staphylococcus. These bacteria live harmlessly on your skin, but can cause infection if they enter a wound.

Staph infections can spread through contaminated objects and skin-to-skin contact. Sharing bed linens, towels, or clothing with someone who has a staph infection increases your risk of getting a staph infection. Warm, humid environments and excessive sweating can also contribute to the spread of staph infection.

A particularly severe form of staph infection is called MRSA or Methcillin Resistant Staph Aureous infection. It is more severe because it is resistant to many antibiotics and is more easily transmitted from person to person.

Tenderness, swelling, and redness are common signs of infection. If your child develops these or other symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

Help your child prevent staph infection by teaching them about cleanliness and good hygiene. The single most important way to prevent staph infections including MRSA is frequent hand washing. If he or she has a cut, keep the skin clean and dry, use antiseptic ointment, and cover the wound.

For more information about staph and other skin infections, talk to your dermatologist today!

Monday, August 1, 2011

It’s Never Too Early to Treat Aging Skin

Although you may not see laugh lines or crow’s feet yet, it’s never too early to start thinking about aging skin. As we age, our skin becomes drier, thinner, and even begins to sag. By beginning an anti-aging skin care routine early, you can postpone and even reduce the effects of aging.

When you are in your twenties, you should have a skin care routine that includes acne treatment, daily cleansing, and moisturizing. You should also start using preventative aging products. Don’t forget that the sun is one of the leading causes of aging skin, so try to use a product with sunscreen. When shopping for acne products you will want to buy those containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Serum’s that include Vitamin C will also help fight damaged skin.

Once you reach your thirties, it is time to expand your skin care routine. Look for anti-aging products that firm, prevent lines, and repair your skin. Exfoliating is another good way to cleanse your skin and give you a healthier glow. Look for products that contain a retinoid to help improve the overall texture and tone of your skin.

By the time you are forty, you should pick specialized products that target your problem areas. Everyone’s skin is unique and requires different treatment, so make sure your skin is getting the attention it needs. Collagen-building ingredients like peptides are often helpful for more mature skin.

No matter what stage of life you are in, it is time to take care of your skin. Talk to your dermatologist about an anti-aging skin regiment that works for you.