Hives are a common skin condition that may be caused by allergic reactions to medication, food, an insect bite or infection. Hives are swollen, itchy welts on the skin that can appear and disappear suddenly. They can sometimes burn or sting as well. Hives tend to be harmless and disappear on their own, but can be relieved by applying calamine lotion or taking antihistamines if needed.
Itching is a skin sensation that can occur anywhere on the body as a result of many different causes. Itching causes a tingling feeling that triggers a need for the skin to be scratched. Some causes of itching include:
- Insect bits
- Dry skin
- Contact dermatitis
- Allergic reactions
Itching can be controlled by avoiding scratching, wearing loose clothing and applying moisturizing lotion. Most itching does not require medical treatment and disappears on its own.
Keloids are overgrown areas of scar tissue that form at the site of a previous injury such as an incision, wound, vaccination, pimple or piercing. They appear on the skin as an irregularly-shaped pink or red scar that is raised above the rest of the skin and continues to grow into areas that were not affected by the initial injury.
Treatment of keloids depends on the personal preference and desired outcome of the patient. The only true cure for keloids is to prevent them from occurring, but there are several procedures available to help improve the appearance and related symptoms. Some of these treatments help flatten keloids, while others reduce redness and size. Most treatments will leave an irregular mark or texture on the skin.
Keloid treatments include:
- Cortisone injections
- Laser removal
Although keloids are not medically dangerous, many people seek treatment to restore the appearance of their skin and help the keloid become less noticeable over time. Your doctor can help you decide which treatment option is best for you.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues and organs, causing inflammation and damage to various parts of the body. Lupus is a common disease that affects more than 16,000 people each year. It occurs most frequently in women between the ages of 15 and 45. The cause of lupus is unknown but may be affected by environment, hormones or other immune system problems. The symptoms of lupus may include:
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
Symptoms usually worsen during flares, which are triggered by certain environmental factors such as stress, not getting enough rest, infection or injury. While lupus cannot be cured, it can usually be managed by avoiding the triggers that cause flares and treating the individual symptoms.
Melanoma is a skin cancer of the melanocytes, the cells that make melanin (brown pigments). Accounting for more than 80 percent of all skin cancer deaths, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Early detection and treatment greatly increase the likelihood of total freedom from melanoma.
The earliest, most common symptoms of melanoma are abnormal growths on the skin or changes in existing moles. It is therefore important to seek medical attention upon noticing any abnormal changes in your skin.
Melanoma is usually diagnosed through a full skin exam and a biopsy of the suspicious-looking area. If melanoma is found, a stage will be assigned to it; stage I melanoma is the earliest stage, while stage IV indicates that the cancer has spread elsewhere on the body, making treatment more difficult. Melanoma is typically treated by surgically removing the melanoma; later stages of melanoma may also include chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy all cancer cells.
Melasma is a common skin condition where patches of skin on the face turn brown. The most commonly affected areas are the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead and upper lip. Melasma mostly affects women. Causes include exposure to ultraviolet light and hormonal changes resulting from pregnancy or birth control.
Treatments for melasma include:
- UVA/UVB Sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher
- Sunblock Lotions
- Avoidance of Any Irritating Cleansers, Creams or Makeup Products
- Discontinuation of Birth Control
- Bleaching Creams including Hydroquinone
- Glycolic Acid Peels
Treatment by a dermatologist often improves the appearance of melasma and prevents future recurrence.
Moles & Birthmarks
Many moles and birthmarks on the skin are completely benign, and pose no threat to the person on whom they appear, even if they are unsightly.
However, some "moles" may not be harmless. They may be dysplastic nevi, which have the potential to become melanomas. Dysplastic nevi are usually irregular in size, shape and color and border. They can be located on sun-exposed or sun-spared skin areas.
When dysplastic nevi are seen in patients who have a personal or family history of melanoma, the chances are even greater that this mole can become malignant. That is why Dr. Galaria always asks about a history of melanoma from every patient he sees.
Most birthmarks are benign, but some may have a malignant potential, and some may indicate systemic disease. Café au lait spots are evenly tan flat spots on the trunk and may be in the armpit area also. They can indicate internal problems. Many skin changes can be associated with internal disease, such as losing the lateral third of your eyebrow being associated with thyroid disease.
To be safe, moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by Dr. Galaria immediately:
- Larger than six millimeters
- Itches or bleeds
- Rapidly changes in color, size or shape
- Has multiple colors
- Is located where it can't be easily monitored, such as on the scalp
Depending on their depth, location and color, as well as the patient's skin type, age and other factors, treatment for benign but unattractive birthmarks may take the form of laser or pulsed light therapy, microdermabrasion or surgical excision.
Nail fungal infections occur under the fingernail or toenail as a result of exposure to a warm, moist environment like sweaty shoes or shower floors. These fungal infections usually begin as a yellow or white spot under the nail, and develop into thickened, brittle and distorted nails. They may also turn your nails a darker color as a result of the debris building up. Nail fungal infections occur more frequently in toenails because they are more often confined to dark, moist environments.
Nail fungal infections should be treated immediately as they may cause permanent damage and are likely to recur. Treatment options include oral anti-fungal medications, anti-fungal nail polish or other topical medications. The nail may need to be removed in severe infections.
To learn more about our Medical Dermatology Services, please contact us at (703) 327-3173 today to schedule an appointment.