The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a full body examination once a year for all ages and skin types. However, if you have had a prior history of skin cancer, you may need to come twice yearly. A full body skin examination is essential in the detection of early skin cancer. Special instruments such as a dermatoscope can aid such early detection. It is important to have all of your moles checked so that a baseline can be established and photographs taken to monitor changes if necessary. Education on signs and symptoms of skin cancer are also reviewed in full detail at this visit.
Any spot that is changing should be evaluated by a dermatologist to ensure that it is not a melanoma. Suspicious signs include asymmetry, irregular borders, uneven color, growth and size larger than a pencil eraser. Some of these same signs can be seen in benign lesion such as a seborrheic keratosis (also called old age warts or barnacles). These waxy light brown to black lesions tend to run in families and develop as we age. Hundreds of these lesions can be removed in a single office visit for cosmetic purposes.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that most commonly appears as thick scaly areas located on the scalp, elbows, knees, and buttocks. It can range from mild to severe and can sometimes be associated with joint inflammation and arthritis. It is not known what causes psoriasis. However, there is a definite genetic component to the disease. It is common worldwide and has an incidence of 0.1-3% of the world population, affecting adults and children, men and women.
Psoriasis can be treated very effectively with medications and the symptoms can be improved dramatically. At this time, however, there is no definitive cure for psoriasis. The goal of therapy is to reduce the symptoms, typically including topical steroids, topical immunomodulators, and oral medications.
There are many causes of hair loss. Most commonly it can be genetic, age-related hair loss. Both men and women tend to lose hair thickness and amount as they age. Inherited or “pattern baldness” affects many more men than women. About 25% of men begin to bald by the time they are 30 years old, and about two-thirds are either bald or have a balding pattern by age 60. Other causes of hair loss are stress, illness, trauma, medication-related, and auto-immune. Alopecia areata is a very common autoimmune disorder causing patches of hair loss.
Evaluation by a dermatologist may help to define the cause of the hair loss and to work with you to develop a treatment plan. Sometimes a small (and relatively painless) biopsy or laboratory evaluation may be necessary to understand the reason for hair loss. With correct diagnosis, many people with hair loss can be helped. Hair loss is typically treated with topical medications such as minoxidil and/or oral medications such as finasteride (propecia). Alopecia Areata is treated with injected or topical steroids. With correct diagnosis and treatment, many patients will experience improvement in their hair loss. In some types of hair loss, hair transplantation may be helpful.