What causes lichen planus?
Lichen planus is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person. In fact, it typically appears when the immune system starts attacking the skin or mucous membrane. Certain things can trigger it including:
- Certain OTC pain medications (e.g. ibuprofen)
- Medications used for arthritis, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease
- Hepatitis C
- Viral infections
- Certain allergens
- Certain chemicals or metals
Should I see a dermatologist?
If you have developed a purple rash or bumps that resemble lichen planus it’s worth it to pay a visit to your dermatologist to find out what’s going on, especially if you notice any unusual bumps on the genitals.
To determine that you do have lichen planus, we will need to biopsy some skin cells to diagnose lichen planus and to also determine whether it’s being caused by an underlying infection or an allergen. From there, further testing may be needed.
How is lichen planus treated?
So, you found out from your dermatologist that you have lichen planus. Now what? In some cases, this condition may just go away on its own; however, it’s important to recognize that there is no cure for lichen planus but there are ways to help alleviate certain symptoms such as burning or pain. Common treatment options that your dermatologist can recommend or prescribe include,
- Antihistamines: To help with itching
- Corticosteroid creams: To reduce inflammation and redness
- Oral or injectable steroids: This treatment is more effective for persistent, recurring, or more severe bumps
- Photochemotherapy: Light therapy can be effective for treating oral lichen planus
Most people don’t know what impetigo is. Maybe you haven’t even heard of it. This contagious bacterial skin infection is most often seen in babies and children; however, adults can catch this infection, too. Dermatologists often see a rise in impetigo cases during the summer. How does impetigo even happen in the first place?
Well, our skin is home to millions of bacteria. Most of them are actually good bacteria that help you stay healthy; however, bad bacteria can develop on the skin too. If these bad bacteria can get into a wound or opening in the skin, this can cause impetigo.
What are the symptoms?
Impetigo causes red bumps mostly on the arms, legs, and face. These bumps will eventually turn into blisters that will crust over. The skin under and around the blisters may look raw. At first, you may only notice one or two spots; however, the condition will continue to spread. Bumps may itch or also be tender.
Who is at risk for impetigo?
As we said, we often see this condition in children and infants; however, certain factors can also put adults at risk. You may be more at risk for impetigo if you have been diagnosed with,
- Liver conditions
- Eczema or dermatitis
Since many skin conditions cause painful blisters to form it’s important to see a dermatologist right away for a proper diagnosis. When you come into the office, our skin doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history to help rule out what conditions it could be. A physical examination performed by a qualified dermatologist is often all that’s needed to make a diagnosis; however, we may collect fluid from the blister to look for the presence of bacteria.
How do you treat impetigo?
It’s important to see a doctor for treatment because impetigo will require antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the blisters, your dermatologist may simply prescribe an antibiotic cream, while those with more widely affected areas or more severe symptoms may require oral antibiotics. Once you start taking the medication you should recover within a week.
If you or your little one is dealing with symptoms of impetigo you must see a dermatology professional right away for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
What triggers eczema?
It’s important to figure out what triggers your eczema so you can make lifestyle changes to avoid exposure. Common eczema triggers include:
- Cold or hot weather
- Dry skin
- Cigarette smoke
- Fragrances and detergents
- Dust mites, pollen, and mold
How can I manage my eczema symptoms?
While there is no cure for eczema, a dermatologist can help you get your symptoms under control. First and foremost, you mustn't scratch your skin, as scratching will only make the itching more intense. Scratching your skin can also lead to more serious problems including infections.
It’s also important to establish a proper skin-care regimen with your dermatologist to determine which products are not only safe to use but also can ease eczema symptoms. It’s best to choose mild products that do not contain fragrances or chemicals and to keep skin moisturized, as dry skin can lead to flare-ups.
Of course, your dermatologist can also provide you with prescription topical creams and medications to help control your symptoms. Sometimes laser therapy can also help if you are dealing with severe eczema symptoms that don’t seem to respond to traditional medications and lifestyle changes.
Whether you are experiencing symptoms of eczema or you’ve already been diagnosed with eczema, you must have a skin-care professional that can help you get your eczema under control with proper dermatology treatments and remedies.
Think You Have Shingles?
If you notice a blister-like rash developing on one side of the body it’s possible that you could have shingles. If you suspect that you have shingles, you must see a doctor.
Those over the age of 60 years old as well as those with chronic conditions such as diabetes are more at risk for complications related to shingles, so you must seek immediate dermatology care from a qualified doctor. A dermatologist can also rule out other possible conditions or infections.
For the antiviral medication to be most effective, you must see a doctor right away if you think you have shingles. The most common types of antiviral medications used to treat shingles include acyclovir and valacyclovir. These antivirals can speed up the healing process and reduce the severity of your symptoms.
- Applying cold compresses to the rash
- Soaking in a cool oatmeal bath
- Wearing light, loose-fitted clothing that won’t rub against the rash
- Applying calamine lotion to reduce itching
- Managing stress effectively and finding ways to help you relax
- Eating healthy, balanced meals
- Getting good quality sleep every night
The good news is that there is a shingles vaccine that can protect you against this infection. If you are over the age of 50, you could benefit from the shingles vaccine so ask your doctor. The vaccine can protect you from shingle for up to five years.
If you are worried that you might have shingles, or if you’re interested in finding out whether or not you should get the shingles vaccine, a qualified dermatologist will be able to answer all of your questions and provide you with the custom dermatology treatment you need to ease your symptoms.
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.
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