Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Protect your skin with the right clothing

As temperatures begin to drop this fall, it’s time to think about protecting skin from the elements. Changing your summer skin care regimen to adapt to the crisp fall air should still include all the basics – a hydrating cleanser, a thicker moisturizer and, yes, more sunscreen. But protecting skin from the sun, wind and (albeit rare) sub-freezing temperatures of cooler seasons should also include additional clothing.

A majority of the 3.7 million skin cancers diagnosed in the U.S. annually are caused by UV radiation from the sun, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. Clothing absorbs and blocks much of the sun’s harmful radiation and is our first line of defense. Plus, accessorizing can be fun!

Here’s what we recommend:

Layer on the layers
Weather in the South is unpredictable – hot one minute and cool the next; and the sunshine can be deceiving. In warmer temperatures, layers that can be removed will allow skin to breathe and prevent sweat from irritating the skin. Keep long-sleeved options handy in colder temperatures to avoid exposing skin to unexpected wind and cold.

The types of clothing you choose also matters – tightly woven fabrics like denim and wool have smaller holes between the threads and block more UV rays than open weaves like lace. Synthetic fibers like polyester and rayon offer the greatest protection, while cottons offer the least. Some manufacturers offer sun-protective clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label, which indicates what fraction of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the fabric. Look for products that offer UPF of 30 or higher.

Choose the Right Accessories
Even the most disciplined person can forget to put sunscreen on the scalp, neck and tops of the ears. However, these areas receive the most sun exposure and are particularly susceptible to the two most common forms of skin cancer: basal and squamous cell carcinoma; and, people with melanoma of the head and neck are almost twice as likely to die from the disease as patients with melanomas on other parts of the body, according to the Foundation. Hands and feet are also some of the most exposed areas of the body.

Thankfully, cooler temperatures make hats, scarves, socks and gloves safe and stylish options to protect these sun-prone areas. Experts recommend a wide-brimmed hat or one that at least covers the ears and back of the neck for the most protection. If you choose a smaller hat, opt for a stylish scarf or neck gaiter that can be draped around the neck and even pulled up over the nose and cheeks. Other great options include ear muffs or headbands that cover the ears.

Sunglasses are not just for summer. The sun’s UV rays cause up to 90 percent of the visible changes attributed to aging, such as wrinkles, brown spots and sagging skin, as well as skin cancers around the eyes. In fact, five to 10 percent of all skin cancers develop on the eyelids, according to the Foundation.

Look for sunglasses that cover as much of the eyes, eyelids and surrounding skin as possible. Check the tag to verify that they block 99-100 percent of all UV radiation (UVA and UVB). Prescription eyewear can also be coated for UV protection.

The retail store at Greenville Dermatology offers several sun-protective accessories, from gloves and hats to scarves and sunglasses. Visit our retail store at 369 Woodruff Road to check out our Summer Specials or call Greenville Dermatology at 864-242-5872 for more information.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Future of Dermatology

One of the most exciting things about medicine is that it is constantly evolving. New technologies are changing the way doctors deliver care, the way patients engage in health care and the advancement of scientific research. Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for example. At the time of this post, the ALS Association had raised more than $94 million to help find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease by way of a bucket and a smart phone. As impressive as that is, it’s just a sample of the most extraordinary things happening at the touch of a button.

A recent issue of Dermatology World examined the future of technology in dermatology and how practice models are changing as a result. Below is a roundup of some of the latest – and future – advancements their panel of experts hope will help us take better care of our patients.

Pain-free exams

The idea: Using non-invasive devices to examine skin, make a diagnosis and monitor treatment – in person or from the comfort of your home is not far off. For example, MelaFind is already being used to see under the skin’s surface to determine whether a lesion needs to be biopsied, and a new device called Melanoscan can use psoriasis light boxes and 30 cameras to take full-body images and monitor lesions for change. The future of dermatology includes the possibility of patients attaching special microscopes to their phones and sending pictures of their skin to doctors from anywhere.

The bottom line: Patients save a trip to the doctor and discomfort from a painful biopsy, and doctors can provide more rapid and accurate diagnoses. The International Skin Imaging Collaboration Melanoma Project is developing standards around technology, techniques and terminology in order to regulate these practices.

Technology that facilitates patient-doctor communication

The idea: Computer-assisted diagnosis will be a game-changer for doctors and patients, according to Jack Lewin, MD, chairman of the National Coalition on Health Care. His prediction involves an app that would formulate a diagnosis based on patient and doctor input of symptoms, medical issues, etc. “That will allow us to reduce the disturbingly frequent rate of misdiagnosis and/or use of therapeutics that will not be helpful to a patient for a number of reasons: maybe because of their genetic individuality, maybe because of a history of allergy,” explained Dr. Lewin.

The bottom line: Together, doctors and patients working with computer software can provide a more accurate, low cost and timely method of diagnosis. Many apps are already in development for this.

Customized medication

The idea: Using an individual’s genome and the disease they have to create medication that is customized for them. While we are beginning to use more biologics, or drugs derived from living cells that target specific gene pathways of diseases, this treatment is still in its early days. Daniel M. Siegel, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at the State University of New York at Downstate School of Medicine and past president of the Academy of Dermatology, hopes that as we get more targeted with biologics, we’ll get to a point where we can really target treatment toward a specific individual’s genetic makeup.

The bottom line: Biologics are believed to have fewer side effects than traditional medications because they are targeted to specific disease processes. While biologics are still being heavily scrutinized, several have already been approved by the FDA for treatment of psoriasis.

Greenville Dermatology strives to pursue the newest advances and cutting-edge technology to better serve our patients and is already using some of these resources. To learn more about how these advancements might help your skincare needs, call Greenville Dermatology today at (864) 242-5872 to schedule an appointment with our specialists.