Did you know that skin cancer is the most common malignancy among American adults? The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) cites statistics to prove it. At Applegarth Dermatology in Valparaiso, IN, Dr. William Applegarth and his team educate patients on the dangers of skin cancer and what makes you prone to this diagnosis.
Skin cancer and you
Skin cancer--me? That's not possible. Many people in Valparaiso and around the country think that, and so, they take little interest in possible risk factors. But, frankly, ignorance puts you at greatest risk for this potentially deadly problem. Just a little education on skin cancer causes could prevent the diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma, the most common type, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, the most deadly and insidious variety.
There are many risk factors that set the stage for skin cancer. The biggest is excessive UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. UV rays actually change the DNA in your skin cells, reports the AAD. Also, the more sunburns you get or the more repeat, the intense exposure over time contribute to skin cancer.
Other risk factors include:
- Age (over 40)
- Gender (men more than women)
- Light skin and eye color
- Exposure to industrial chemicals such as tar and coal
- Personal or family history of skin cancer
- Exposure to the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, in the genital or anal area (says the Cancer Treatment Centers of America)
Preventing skin cancer
1. Avoid tanning--either in natural sunlight or with tanning beds.
2. Use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Re-apply every two hours or whenever you sweat or wash it off.
3. Stay indoors, cover up with long, loose clothing or seek shade during the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.
4. Stop all tobacco usage, particularly cigarettes.
5. Do an at-home skin exam monthly, and see your dermatologist yearly. Check your moles for changes such as an increase in size and number, notched borders, mottled color, itching, oozing or bleeding.
Take care of your skin
Know your risks and do something about them. At Applegarth Dermatology in Valparaiso, IN, your dermatologist, Dr. Wiliam Applegarth and his professional team will help you with careful exams and treatments (as needed) and educate you on your particular risk factors. Come see us at one of our two convenient locations. For Valparaiso, IN, phone (219) 548-0360, and in La Porte, IN call (219) 362-0161.
You’re Allergic to the Oil from these Plants
Poison ivy secretes an oil known as urushiol. When a person comes in contact with the oils from these plants this causes an allergic reaction. You may notice a rash that forms in a straight line (as if you brushed against a poison ivy leaf). If you suspect that you’ve come into contact with poison ivy, sumac, or oak, it’s important to wash your clothes immediately and to take a shower to prevent the oils from spreading further.
You Can Usually Treat It Yourself
While the rash can be unpleasant, symptoms should go away within 2-3 weeks. Since the rash can be quite itchy and uncomfortable, here are some ways to ease your symptoms:
- Take cool, oatmeal baths to alleviate inflammation and itching
- Apply calamine lotions to the skin to temporarily alleviate itching
- Steroid creams (aka: cortisone cream) may also alleviate redness and inflammation
- Apply cold compresses to the area when symptoms flare-up
- Whatever you do, do not scratch your rash (this can lead to an infection)
Some people have severe allergic reactions when they come into contact with poison ivy, sumac, or oak. You must call your dermatologist as soon as possible if:
- Pus develops on the rash
- You also have a fever over 100 F
- You experience severe itching
- The rash keeps spreading
- You aren’t sure whether the rash is caused by poison ivy, oak, or sumac
- The rash spreads to the mouth or the eyes
- Symptoms don’t improve within a week
Is it scalp psoriasis?
Since scalp psoriasis shares symptoms with other conditions such as ringworm or dermatitis, you must see a dermatologist to find out what’s causing your scaly, itchy, and dry scalp.
How is scalp psoriasis treated?
Since psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, an oral medication that acts on the body as a whole may offer the most effective relief. Oral medications that act on the immune system (e.g. biologics) may be recommended in more severe cases or in cases where scalp psoriasis isn’t responding to topical treatment options.
Your dermatologist may also recommend light therapy, natural remedies (e.g. tea tree oil; aloe vera), and supplements, as well as other alternative treatment options to help alleviate your symptoms.
If you are dealing with a scaly, itchy, and inflamed scalp it could be scalp psoriasis. Schedule an evaluation with a skincare professional today to learn more.
There are many reasons that you might be dealing with a skin rash; however, if you suspect that it might be ringworm you may be surprised to discover that there are other conditions that can often masquerade as ringworm but aren’t. This is why it’s important to have any rashes or skin problems thoroughly evaluated by a qualified dermatologist. After all, you want to make sure that you are getting the proper treatment you need depending on the type of condition you’re dealing with.
What does ringworm look like?
If you have ringworm, common symptoms include:
- A circular or ring-like rash that may be raised along the edges
- A rash that may be scaly, itchy, red, or burning
- Hair loss in the area where the rash has appeared
The rash may develop several red, raised rings at once, some of which may overlap. While ringworm can develop just about anywhere on the body it’s most commonly found on the arms, legs, and trunk.
If it’s not ringworm, then what else could it be?
There are a variety of ringworm imposters that could be causing you or your child’s rash. The two most common conditions are nummular eczema and granuloma annulare.
Nummular eczema causes circular patches of dry skin that can burn or become dry and scaly. This type of skin condition is often triggered by bug bites, certain medications, or a metal allergy. Granuloma annulare causes red or flesh-colored bumps to appear on the skin, but because they often appear ring-like this condition can be mistaken for ringworm. Everything from medications and viral infections to skin trauma and thyroid disorders can trigger granuloma annulare.
Other less common symptoms that may look like ringworm include,
- Contact dermatitis
- Pityriasis rosea
- Tinea versicolor (more common in children)
- Erythema migrans (common in those with Lyme disease)
Sometimes a skin biopsy of the lesion or rash is required for a dermatologist to be able to diagnose whether it is ringworm or not. If you are experiencing symptoms of ringworm or are concerned about a new or worsening rash, then call your dermatologist today to schedule an appointment.
Here’s how to tell the difference between dandruff and dry scalp:
- Dandruff will produce large, oily flakes that are often yellow or white in appearance while the dry scalp is more likely to produce a lot of dry little flakes.
- Dandruff may cause a red, scaly scalp while someone with dry scalp is more likely to experience dry skin on other parts of their body
- The only symptom that both dandruff and dry scalp have in common is an itchy scalp
Other tips to prevent dandruff include:
- Wash your hair every day to reduce excess oil on the scalp
- Use a shampoo that contains coal tar, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide or tea tree oil (a natural alternative)
- Stay away from any har products that contain alcohols or bleach, as well as oily hair products that will only cause more oil to buildup on the scalp
- Find ways to effectively manage stress, which can trigger or exacerbate dandruff
- Get a small amount of sun exposure every day (just a couple of minutes), which could help get your symptoms under control (talk to your dermatologist before doing so, as excess sun exposure can be harmful)
- Eat a healthy diet that is rich in vitamin B, zinc, and healthy fats
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