Posts for: March, 2018
Brown spots and skin discoloration are frequent complaints for many people. The most common form of irregular pigmentation is hyperpigmentation, a condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. Some people have abnormal skin pigmentation from a young age, and for others it is brought on later in life by sun damage or injury to the skin. Individuals of all ages, ethnicities and skin types can be affected, although those with darker skin tones are more prone to develop it.
Hyperpigmentation usually appears as brown spots and dark patches on the face, chest, arms and hands. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin. Sun exposure, acne, genetics and hormonal changes can trigger or worsen irregular pigmentation.
Not all pigmentation problems can be avoided, but you can follow preventive measures to control and reduce dark spots from forming. It is especially important to use adequate sunscreen, manage your acne and discontinue the use of any oral medications that may be contributing to the problem.
How Can I Combat Hyperpigmentation?
The good news is that skin hyperpigmentation isn’t dangerous, and proper treatment can help rejuvenate troubling patches on the skin. There are many treatments at your dermatologist’s disposal, ranging from topical creams and dermabrasion to chemical peels and laser procedures. Your dermatologist will work with you to determine the most suitable treatment for your particular skin type and problem.
Although a frustrating condition, your skin complexion can be improved and corrected. Talk to your dermatologist about the best treatment options for you.
If you find yourself constantly brushing off white flakes of skin from your shirt collars and shoulders, then you may have a common skin condition known as dandruff. Dandruff is the shedding of excessive amounts of skin from the scalp, a condition that can be itchy, bothersome and embarrassing.
Most cases of dandruff are a mild form of a skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis, an inflammation of the scalp and sometimes the skin of the eyebrows, eyelids, nose, ears and chest. It occurs in areas that have the greatest number of sebaceous (oil) glands and is likely caused by a combination of an overproduction of skin oil and irritation from yeast. Psoriasis, a fungal infection or simple dry skin may also trigger dandruff. Hormonal or seasonal changes often make the itching and flaking worse.
The good news is that dandruff can almost always be controlled. Most mild cases of dandruff can be managed by shampooing regularly with a gentle, over-the-counter shampoo to reduce oiliness and skin build up. Your dermatologist can help you determine the best shampoo for your specific needs. Other tips for controlling dandruff include:
- Limit hair products. Hair sprays, gels and mousses can create excess build-up on your hair and scalp, increasing its oiliness.
- Treat your scalp gently. Harsh shampoos, daily blow-drying and forceful brushing can damage your scalp and make dandruff worse.
- Avoid scratching. Although tempting, scratching at dandruff can cause further irritation.
If you don’t see an improvement after several weeks of over-the-counter treatment, or if the condition worsens, visit your dermatologist. Severe cases of dandruff may need a prescription-strength or antifungal dandruff shampoo or cream to improve the skin condition.
Don’t throw away your dark clothes yet! With a little persistence and extra care, it’s possible to get your dandruff under control.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. More that two million people in the U.S. are afflicted by skin cancer each year, and that number is only rising. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
Skin cancer can be deadly, but it is also very curable when detected early. Along with proper prevention and sun protection, you should examine your body regularly to check for any suspicious spots or changes as they develop.
When You Spot It You Can Stop It
Early detection of skin cancer can save your life. Self-examine your skin regularly, at least once a month, to look for unusual skin changes. Visiting your dermatologist routinely is also helpful, as they can do a full-body exam to make sure existing spots are normal. Regular self-exams should become a habit. It only takes a few minutes, and this small investment could save your life.
Warning Signs: What to Look For
By regularly examining your body, you can detect skin cancer in its earliest stages. Notify your dermatologist immediately if you identify any of the following symptoms:
- A skin growth that appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored
- A mole, birthmark or any spot that: changes color, increases in size or thickness, changes in texture or is irregular in outline
- A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed
- An open sore that does not heal within a few weeks
- A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness or pain
A suspicious spot may be nothing, but its better to be safe than sorry. Always consult your dermatologist or physician if you notice any changes in your skin that seem abnormal.
ABCD’s of Skin Cancer Detection
As a good reminder, follow the ABCD rule as a guide for detecting skin cancer. Any of the below symptoms warrant a call to your dermatologist.
- Asymmetry: One half of a mole or spot doesn’t match the other half.
- Border: The edges of a mole are irregular or blurred.
- Color: The mole’s color or pigmentation is not uniform and/or has shades of brown, black, white, red or blue.
- Diameter: The spot or mole is larger than ¼ inch or 6 mm, approximately the size of a pencil eraser.
Skin cancer can be life-threatening, but it is also very preventable and treatable. Start taking care of your skin now by recognizing the early signs of skin cancer and protecting your skin from the sun.