ABCDs of Melanoma
We all love to spend time playing in the sunshine. However, spending too much time in the sun could put you at risk for skin cancer, even if you use sunscreen. Most types of skin cancer are treatable, as long as they are caught early. Dr. Galaria and Christina are trained to evaluate any unusual marks, bumps, sores, or moles on your skin.
Remember to use sunscreen and/or sun-protective clothing as much as possible, and watch your moles regularly for any suspicious changes. The changes you should look for are known as the ABCDs of skin cancer detection.
A stands for asymmetry. Normal moles tend to look symmetrical when compared top to bottom and side to side. When moles are asymmetrical this can be a sign of trouble.
B stands for border irregularity. The borders on normal moles tend to be smooth without notches or “fingers” projecting into the surrounding skin. Moles with notched, jagged, or blurred borders require evaluation by a dermatologist.
C stands for color variation. From mole to mole color may vary from light brown to very dark brown, but within an individual mole, the color should be confluent. Also black, blue, or red colors in moles may signal that the mole is atypical.
D stands for diameter. Any mole lager than 6 mm, or larger than a pencil eraser should be evaluated.
E stands for evolving: If you notice a mole that is growing or which changes, itches, or bleeds you should see a dermatologist.
Acne is the term for the blocked pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that can appear typically on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Seventeen million Americans currently have acne, making it the most common skin disease in the country. While it affects mostly teenagers, and almost all teenagers have some form of acne, adults of any age can have it. Acne is not life-threatening, but it can cause physical disfigurement (scarring) and emotional distress.
Treatment for acne varies depending on the type and severity of lesions, as well as the patient's skin type, age and life . Options include:
- Topical Medications
- Blackhead Extraction
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Skin Care
- Blu-U Light Treatments
- Laser Treatments
Acne scarring can be treated in a variety of ways as well. These include:
- Chemical Peels
- Soft Tissue Fillers
- Laser/Pulsed Light Treatments
Actinic keratoses (AKs) are lesions on the surface layer of the skin (epidermis) caused by chronic exposure to sunlight, particularly ultraviolet light. AKs typically manifest as rough or scaly skin, bumps, mottled patterns and cutaneous horns. They may appear anywhere on the skin surface exposed to sunlight, but common areas include the face (including ears and lips), neck, arms and hands. Lesions range in size from a pinpoint to several centimeters in diameter and may be yellow, brown, red or violet, smooth, wrinkled or furrowed.
Actinic keratoses can signal the onset of skin cancer; they can become squamous cell carcinomas, the second-most common form of epidermal skin cancer. Depending on a number of factors such as the size, location and severity of lesions, as well as the patient’s age, health, medical history, occupation, expectations and preferences, treatment for AKs may take the form of traditional surgical excision, cryosurgery (freezing), curettage (scraping), topical medications, laser treatment, chemical peels, dermabrasion and pulsed light therapy. Routine re-examinations every few months and limitation of exposure to direct sunlight are recommended.
Alopecia, or hair loss, is a common condition caused by a number of reasons. Hair loss can be natural, a side effect of medication or signs of another health condition. It can result in total baldness, patchy bald spots or thinning of the hair, and may be confined to the scalp or affect other areas of the body. Some of the causes of alopecia include:
- Male pattern baldness
- Fungal infection of the scalp
- Trichotillomania (mental disorder that causes a person to pull out his or her own hair)
- Thyroid disorders
Treatment for hair loss is usually based on the cause but can include completion of chemotherapy, treating infections, drug therapy like Rogaine and Proscar or hair transplant plugs.
Atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, is a chronic skin disorder that causes dry, itchy skin and often results in a red rash. It is most common in babies and children, and tends to affect those with a family history of allergies and asthma, although the actual cause is unknown. Atopic dermatitis can affect different areas of the skin, but is most commonly found on the face, neck, arms and legs. It is usually mild and can go away on its own, but may be more severe if it affects a larger area.
Although atopic dermatitis cannot be cured, it can usually be treated and controlled simply through using moisturizing lotions, avoiding harsh soaps and controlling scratching.
A cherry angioma is a type of growth that appears on the skin as a bright red patch because of a grouping together of blood vessels underneath the skin. They are common skin lesions, especially after the age of 30, and can develop on any part of the body. Cherry angiomas are benign and typically small in size, ranging from a pinpoint to approximately one-quarter inch across. It is not known exactly what causes cherry angiomas to form, but they are often inherited.
Cherry angiomas are usually harmless and require no treatment. However, they tend to bleed profusely when injured because of the concentration of blood cells at the skin’s surface. If the appearance or bleeding of a cherry angioma becomes bothersome, they can quickly and easily be removed. A Dermatologist will determine which method is best depending on a variety of factors, and may choose cautery to burn it off, cryotherapy to freeze it off, laser treatment or excision.
Full Body Skin Exams
Full-body skin exams are an essential method of screening patients for benign or cancerous lesions that they may not have been able to see or recognize on their own. By using a 5x magnifier and looking at all of your skin, Dr. Galaria can often find potentially life-threatening growths in a timely manner. From head to toe and back to front, she inspects the skin for any suspicious growths. This quick and painless preventive measure is an invaluable tool in the early detection of skin cancer as well as many other dermatological conditions.
Dr. Galaria's office has the latest OR-type exam lights and electric tables to make such examinations as efficient and effective as possible. There is always a medical assistant present in the room with the doctor and patient. Dr. Galaria likes the patient to look at their skin with her so she can point out the various benign and sometimes malignant growths she sees and then discuss them with the patient.
Medical attention is necessary after noticing any skin changes, as early detection is valuable in successfully treating skin cancer. Regular full body screening is recommended as well. A biopsy is usually performed to accurately diagnose suspected cancerous growths. Full-body skin exams to detect any new moles and growths, as well as to monitor existing growths, are recommended on a yearly basis in order to screen for skin cancer and detect any abnormalities in their earliest stages.
The examination itself does not take long if you have never had any type of cancerous or precancerous finding previously. Dr. Galaria will examine your skin from your head to your feet, including often overlooked areas such as the scalp and fingernails, but primarily focusing on any existing moles along the way. Feel free to ask Dr. Galaria for tips on how to perform self-exams at home as well.
Fungal infections are common skin conditions that may cause redness, itching, burning and scaling. They can also cause blisters or peeling. Fungus can grow anywhere on the body, but tends to develop in warm, moist areas such as the feet, groin and armpit area. Common types of fungal infections include athlete's foot, jock itch, ringworm and yeast infections.
Fungal infections can usually be successfully treated with antifungal oral or topical medications. They are not usually serious, but may be contagious, so treatment is important. Keeping the body clean and changing socks and underwear everyday can help prevent fungal infections.
To learn more about our Medical Dermatology Services, please contact us at (703) 327-3173 today to schedule an appointment.