Posts for: March, 2016
Eczema, also called “dermatitis,” refers to several different rash-like conditions where the skin is inflamed, red and irritated. The most severe and long-lasting type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. During a flare-up, the skin becomes extremely red, itchy and scaly. This skin condition can be widespread, or confined to only a few areas on the body.
Eczema is not contagious, although if you have a family history of eczema, your risk for the disease increases. Generally, atopic dermatitis affects infants or young children and may last until the child reaches adulthood.
The appearance and symptoms for atopic dermatitis will vary for each case. Intense itching is the most common sign of eczema, which can lead to severe discomfort and even loss of sleep. Other common symptoms of eczema include:
- Dry, red and extremely itchy patches of skin
- Cracked, inflamed and scaly skin
- Small bumps or blisters that ooze and weep
- In infants, the rash generally appears on the cheeks and around the mouth
Eczema outbreaks are caused by an overreaction of your skin’s immune system to environmental and emotional triggers, such as temperature, chemicals, dust, mold or stress. While there is currently no cure, eczema sufferers can practice self-care at home to help reduce flare-ups. Lifestyle adjustments are the best line of defense in controlling all types of eczema. Goals of treatment include reducing inflammation, decreasing risk of infection and alleviating the itch. To minimize symptoms and outbreaks:
- Moisturize every day to prevent dryness and cracking.
- Limit contact with irritants, such as soaps, clothing, jewelry, foods and detergents.
- Avoid sudden changes in temperatures as overheating and sweating are common triggers of flare-ups.
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
- Minimize exposure to mold, pollens and animal dander.
- Opt for cotton, loose-fitting clothes and avoid wool and other rough materials.
Treatment for eczema begins with a proper diagnosis from your dermatologist. If you are diagnosed with eczema, your dermatologist can explain your type of eczema and can work with you to tailor a treatment plan that meets your individual needs to effectively manage the symptoms.
What you need to know about psoriasis
Psoriasis is a genetic autoimmune disorder that looks like scaly, red patches on your scalp, elbows and knees. Usually certain substances trigger flare ups and make skin cells grow at an abnormal rate, causing the psoriasis patches. Psoriasis can burn, itch or sting and can be extensive and unsightly. You can find relief from psoriasis by calling your dermatologists at South County Dermatology in Narragansett, Westerly, Barrington and East Greenwich, RI.
Psoriasis is classified according to how much of your body is affected and treatment varies acccordingly. For example:
Mild psoriasis--less than 3% of your body is affected, and treatment involves over-the-counter or prescription creams, shampoos and bath solutions.
Moderate psoriasis--between 3% and 10% of your body is affected, and over-the-counter treatments aren’t enough. Your Narragansett, Westerly, Barrington and East Greenwich dermatologists at South County Dermatology may recommend topical steroids and other treatments that slow skin cell growth. Light therapy also has some effectiveness, as well as laser therapy to reduce or eliminate psoriasis patches.
Severe psoriasis--over 10% of your body is affected. Your dermatologists at South County Dermatology may prescribe oral medications including methotrexate or cyclosporine to decrease skin cell production and reduce cellular inflammation. They may also recommend light therapy with either natural sunlight or phototherapy with UVB rays which reduce psoriasis patches.
These are just a few of the treatments available at South County Dermatology. For more about specific treatment medications please visit the South County Dermatology patient education page under skin conditions at http://www.southcountyriderm.com/library/4249/SkinConditions.html.
Psoriasis can be irritating and can affect your quality of life, but it doesn’t have to. If you think you might have psoriasis, get some relief. Call your dermatologists at South County Dermatology with four offices to serve your needs in East Greenwich, Narragansett, Westerly and Barrington, RI. Get some help for your psoriasis by calling today!
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Fortunately, it rarely develops without warning, and the number of fatalities caused by melanoma could be greatly reduced if people were aware of the early signs and took time to examine their skin. With early diagnosis and treatment, your chance of recovery from melanoma is very good.
What Causes Melanoma?
The main cause of melanoma is too much skin exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays from the sun and tanning booths can damage skin cells, causing the cells to grow abnormally. The best way to prevent melanoma is to reduce the amount of time you spend in the sun, wearing hats and protective clothing when possible and generously applying sunscreen.
Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, including the soles of your feet or your fingernails. In women, melanoma is most often seen on the lower legs, and in men, it most commonly forms on the upper back.
Anyone can get melanoma, but people with the following traits are at a higher risk:
- Fair skin
- Excessive sun exposure during childhood
- Family history of melanoma
- More than 50 moles on the skin
- Several freckles
- Sun-sensitive skin that rarely tans or burns easily
Melanoma can appear suddenly as a new mole, or it can grow slowly, near or in an existing mole. The most common early signs of melanoma are:
- An open sore that repeatedly heals and re-opens
- A mole or growth that takes on an uneven shape, grows larger or changes in color or texture
- An existing mole that continues to bleed, itch, hurt, scab or fade
Because melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of the body, it is important to find melanoma as early as possible. The best way to detect changes in your moles and skin markings is by doing self-examinations regularly. If you find suspicious moles, have them checked by your dermatologist.
Visiting your dermatologist for a routine exam is also important. During this skin cancer "screening," your dermatologist will discuss your medical history and inspect your skin from head to toe, recording the location, size and color of any moles. Melanoma may be the most serious form of skin cancer, but it is also very curable when detected early.