Psoriasis is a group of chronic skin disorders that cause itching and/or burning, scaling and crusting of the skin. Over seven million men and women in the U.S. of all ages have some form of psoriasis, which may be mild, moderate or severe. The most commonly affected areas are the scalp, elbows, knees, hands, feet and genitals.
Psoriasis cannot be cured but it can be treated successfully, sometimes for months or years at a time and occasionally even permanently. Treatment depends on the type, severity and location of psoriasis. The patient's age, medical history and life may also have a significant impact on the methods utilized. The most common treatments are topical medications, phototherapy, photochemotherapy (PUVA), and oral or injectable medication (for severe symptoms).
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes redness and swelling on the face and occasionally on the neck, ears, chest, back and eyes as well. The specific cause of rosacea is unknown, but is suspected to involve a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, and is most common in fair-skinned adults between the ages of 30 and 50. Certain triggers, such as consuming alcohol or spicy foods, may worsen symptoms of rosacea.
Treatment for rosacea aims to relieve symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. This can be done through a combination of approaches, including topical and oral medications, antibiotics, Accutane®, or surgery for severe or permanent symptoms. Your doctor will develop a customized treatment plan after a thorough evaluation of each patient's individual condition. While there is no cure for rosacea, many patients can achieve effective symptom relief for long periods of time.
Seborrheic keratosis is a noncancerous skin growth that commonly affects the elderly. Its exact causes are unknown, although it tends to be hereditary. Seborrheic keratosis is a painless condition that requires no treatment; many individuals, however, choose to have the growth(s) removed for cosmetic purposes.
A seborrheic keratosis typically appears on the head, neck, or trunk. It is usually round or oval shaped, and it may vary in color. In some cases, seborrheic keratosis may itch. Medical attention may be necessary if numerous seborrheic keratoses develop in a short period of time, the seborrheic keratoses interfere with clothing, or other abnormal skin changes occur.
Seborrheic keratosis is diagnosed by inspecting the affected area. A biopsy may be taken to rule out skin cancer. Seborrheic keratoses require no treatment. If removal is requested for cosmetic purposes, it may be achieved through cryosurgery, curettage, or electrocautery.
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Risk factors include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
The most common skin cancers are:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma - 80-85% of all skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma affects cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma - 10% of all skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma affects cells in the middle layer of the epidermis.
- Melanoma - 5% of all skin cancers. Melanoma is a rare but very dangerous type of skin cancer. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease.
Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading.
Spider veins, or telangiectasias, are small, thin, blood vessels visible beneath the skin. They appear most commonly on the face and legs and may look like a series of lines, tree branches, or a spider- or web-like shape with a dark center. It is estimated that they affect nearly half of adult women in the U.S.
Spider veins are caused by a variety of factors, including heredity, pregnancy (and other conditions that involve changes in hormone levels), weight gain, long periods of standing, and certain medications. They often appear red or blue, and because they form on the face, thighs, calves and ankles, many patients are bothered by the way they look. Others seek medical treatment for uncomfortable symptoms such as aching, burning, swelling and cramping. The standard treatments for spider veins are sclerotherapy and laser or pulsed light treatments.
Sun damage can affect any area of your skin as a result of long-term exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Sun damage most commonly occurs on the face, hands and arms, and may lead to sun spots.
The best treatment against sun spots is preventing it from occurring in the first place. It is important to wear sunscreen lotion on a daily basis and avoid excessive exposure to the sun, especially during mid-day hours when the sun is strongest. Existing sun spots can be treated through skin procedures like chemical peels, microdermabrasion and intense pulsed light therapy.
Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. Different warts respond to different treatments; some go away on their own. Salicylic acid products (in the form of drops, gels, pads and bandages) can help self-treatment of many warts by dissolving the keratin protein that makes up the wart and the dead skin above it. Others can be removed via liquid nitrogen freezing or electrical stimulation. Surgery may be recommended for painful or large warts that do not respond to these treatments.
Molluscum contagiosum is a chronic skin infection caused by a virus. It's quite common among children, and is usually spread by touching an affected area on a person infected with the virus. The virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Molluscum causes painless, raised papules or nodules on the skin that look like pink pearls. They appear most often on the face, neck, arms, hands and chest, although they may appear nearly anywhere on the body, including the groin. The growths are often indented in the center and have a firm, waxy core. Scratching can spread the infection, leading to lines or clusters of lesions on the skin.
Patients with healthy immune systems generally find that molluscum contagiosum clears on its own within six to 18 months. Patients should try not to scratch the papules, or else they risk scarring and bacterial infection. If necessary, our doctors can remove individual lesions.
To learn more about our Medical Dermatology Services, please contact us at (703) 327-3173 today to schedule an appointment.