Posts for: May, 2016
A cancer diagnosis, no matter what kind, is one of the most terrifying times of many peoples’ lives. Under the right circumstances, skin cancer is often caught early, giving it a higher chance of being treated. However, learning how to spot skin cancer and its treatment is crucial to early detection. Learn more about skin cancer with help from your East Greenwich, RI dermatologist.
How can I spot skin cancer?
Skin cancer begins as a mole-like spot on the skin. According to the American Cancer Society, you should use the ABCDEs to search for signs of skin cancer:
- Asymmetry: Skin cancer growths are usually asymmetrical in shape while normal moles are usually circular or ovular.
- Border: The border of a normal mole is smooth and straight, unlike skin cancer which is lumpy or irregular.
- Color: Skin cancer often has several colors within the growth instead of one, overall color like a mole. They may also appear to be black or very dark brown.
- Diameter: If you have a mole which has a diameter larger than a pencil’s eraser, or about 6 millimeters, it could be skin cancer.
- Evolving: Skin cancer growths tend to change shape and size over time. Regular moles stay the same.
Normal moles very rarely evolve into skin cancer. This means most skin cancer growths are new spots, not old ones. If you notice a new mole or one that has one or more of the ABCDEs, you should alert your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner skin cancer is caught, the better the chances for successful treatment.
How is skin cancer treated?
Treatment for skin cancer from your East Greenwich dermatologist depends on the patient, the kind of cancer they have, the size of the growth and what stage the cancer is in. The most common treatment for skin cancer is surgery to remove the growth from the skin. This is usually enough to cure the cancer for most people. More stubborn cases of skin cancer may require radiotherapy after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancerous cells.
How can I prevent skin cancer?
Preventing skin cancer is as easy as protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Be sure to wear at least SPF 30 sun block on any exposed areas of your skin while you are outside. Reapply the sun block every two hours, taking care to reapply more often if you are heavily perspiring or in the water. Try to wear wide-brimmed hats and UV blocking sunglasses to protect your face and eyes and long pants and sleeves to cover the skin on your legs and arms.
For more information on skin cancer, please contact your doctor at South County Dermatology in East Greenwich, RI. Call (401) 471-DERM (3376) to speak with an associate about scheduling your examination today.
If you spend time outdoors, then you’ve probably come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac at some point in your life. The plants’ oily sap, known as urushiol causes many people to break out in an itchy rash. Urushiol is colorless or pale yellow oil that exudes from any cut part of the plant, including the roots, stems and leaves.
The intensely itchy rash is an allergic reaction to the sap and can appear on any part of the body. The severity of the reaction varies from person to person, depending on how much sap penetrates the skin and how sensitive the person is to it. The most common symptoms include:
- Itchy skin
- Redness or streaks
- Small or large blisters
- Crusting skin when blisters have burst
When other parts of the body come into contact with the oil, the rash may continue to spread to new parts of the body. A common misconception is that people can develop the rash from touching another person’s poison ivy rash. However, you cannot give the rash to someone else. The person has to touch the actual oil from the plant in order have an allergic reaction.
When to See Your Dermatologist
Generally, a rash from poison ivy, oak or sumac will last 1 to 3 weeks and will go away on its own without treatment. But if you aren’t sure whether or not your rash is caused by poison ivy, or if you need treatment to relieve the itch, you may want to visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and care. You should also see your dermatologist if the rash is serious, in which case prescription medicine may be necessary. Swelling is a sign of serious infection.
Other signs that your rash may be serious include:
- Conservative treatments won’t ease the itch
- Rash begins to spread to numerous parts of the body
- Pus, pain, swelling, warmth and other signs of infection are accompanying the rash
- Facial swelling, especially on the eyelids
- Rash develops on face, eyelids, lips or genitals
- Breathing or swallowing becomes difficult
To avoid getting the rash caused by poison ivy, oak or sumac, learn how to recognize what these plants look like and stay away. Always wear long pants and long sleeves when you anticipate being in wooded areas, and wear gloves when gardening. If you come into contact with the plants, wash your skin and clothing immediately.
Poison ivy, oak and sumaccan be a real nuisance and often difficult to detect. As a general rule, remember the common saying, “Leaves of three—let them be.” And if you do get the rash, visit our office for proper care.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition of the face that affects an estimated 16 million Americans. Because rosacea is frequently misdiagnosed and confused with acne, sunburn or eye irritation, a large percentage of people suffering from rosacea fail to seek medical help due to lack of awareness. It’s important to understand the warning signs of rosacea and need for treatment to make the necessary lifestyle changes and prevent the disorder from becoming progressively severe.
Although the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, you may be more susceptible to rosacea if:
- You are fair-skinned
- You blush easily
- You are female
- You have a family history of rosacea
- You are between the ages of 30 and 50
A frequent source of social embarrassment, for many people rosacea affects more than just the face. Rosacea is a chronic skin disease, which means it lasts for a lifetime. Learning what triggers your rosacea is an important way to reduce flare-ups and manage symptoms. This may include avoiding stress, too much sunlight, heavy exercise, extreme temperatures and certain foods or beverages.
What Are the Symptoms of Rosacea?
Rosacea frequently causes the cheeks to have a flushed or red appearance. The longer rosacea goes untreated, the higher the potential for permanent redness of the cheeks, nose and forehead. Symptoms of rosacea will not be the same for every person. Common symptoms include:
- Facial burning and stinging
- Facial flushing and blush that evolves to persistent redness
- Redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead
- Small, visible broken blood vessels on the face
- Acne-like breakouts on the face
- Watery or irritated eyes
If you recognize any of the warning signs of rosacea, visit your dermatologist for a proper diagnosis. A dermatologist will examine your skin for common warning signs and tailor a treatment plan for your unique condition. Treatment will vary for each individual, ranging from topical medicine, antibiotics and lasers or light treatment. While there is currently no cure, with proper management patients can learn how to avoid triggers, prevent flare-ups and manage their condition to live a healthy, active life.