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.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a complete skin examination annually for pediatric patients as well. Establishing a baseline is important, especially in the early detection of dysplastic and/or Spitz nevi, or when there is a strong family history of skin cancer. In addition, safe sun practicing techniques are reviewed as well as educating parents and patients the ABCDs of changing moles.
A dermatologist can tell whether you have a wart by looking at it. In rare cases, a dermatologist may need to perform a skin biopsy to be certain. If a dermatologist needs to perform a biopsy, the doctor will remove the wart and send it to a lab. At the lab, a small piece of the wart will be looked at under a microscope.
Warts often go away without treatment. This is especially true when children get warts. In adults, warts may not disappear as easily or as quickly as they do in children. Although most warts are harmless, dermatologists do treat them. You should see a dermatologist if you cannot get rid of the warts, the warts hurt, or you have many warts. Dermatologists have many treatments for warts. The treatment used depends on the patient’s age and health as well as the type of wart. Some methods of treatment include cryotherapy, excision, laser, chemical peels or immunotherapy.
There is no cure for the wart virus. This means that warts can return at the same site or appear in a new spot. Sometimes, it seems that new warts appear as fast as old ones go away. This happens when the old warts shed virus cells into the skin before the warts are treated. This allows new warts to grow around the first warts. The best way to prevent this is to have your dermatologist treat new warts as soon as they appear.
Yes, but some treatments are not appropriate for children. Treatments may include topical medications, PUVA therapy, or narrowband UVB light treatments.
Yes. They are studying the genes involved in vitiligo. Researchers believe that by identifying all of the genes involved in vitiligo, they will learn what destroys the cells that give skin its color. With this knowledge, it should be possible to develop better treatments. One of the key goals of this research is to develop a treatment that will permanently stop the skin from losing color.