Moles also called nevi
Moles are common. Almost every adult has a few moles. Adults who have light skin often have more moles. They may have 10 to 40 moles on their skin. This is normal.
You should not be overly worried about your moles. But you should know:
- A type of skin cancer, melanoma, can grow in or near a mole.
- Caught early and treated, melanoma can be cured.
- The first sign of melanoma is often a change to a mole – or a new mole on your skin.
- Checking your skin can help you find melanoma early. A dermatologist can show you how to examine your skin and tell you how often you should check your skin.
Moles in children: What parents should know
Moles on a young child’s skin are generally nothing to worry about. It is normal for new moles to appear during childhood and adolescence. Moles will grow as the child grows. Some moles will darken, and others will lighten. These changes are expected in children and seldom a sign of melanoma – a type of skin cancer that can begin in a mole.
North Atlanta Dermatology recommends the following to their patients:
- If you see a mole on your skin that is changing, itching or bleeding, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. These are signs of melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Caught early, melanoma can be cured. Without treatment, melanoma can spread.
- Perform self-exams of your skin.A self-exam can help you catch melanoma early. Go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS27V22uNIM
- Protect your skin from the sun. It is believed that being out in the sun increases the number of moles on your skin. And we know that the sun causes skin cancer. Tanning beds and sun lamps also cause skin cancer.
An easy way to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer is to skip getting a tan. You also should wear sunscreen everyday.
North Atlanta Dermatology 770-814-8222 www.naderm.com
Bug bites and stings: When to see a dermatologist
Although most bug bites and stings are harmless, some can be dangerous. This is especially true if you are allergic to the bug’s venom, or if the bug is carrying a disease.
In the United States, it’s common to experience a bite or sting from the following types of bugs:
Mosquitoes, Fleas, Bedbugs, Biting, Flies, Mites, Bees, Wasps and Hornets, Spiders, Ticks, Fire Ants
Most bug bites and stings can be safely treated at home with topical medication, such as hydrocortisone cream or ointment, or an oral antihistamine to reduce the itch. However, sometimes a bug bite or sting could turn into something serious – particularly if you have been bitten or stung by many insects at the same time.
- Go to the emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after a bug bite or sting:
- Difficulty breathing
- The sensation that your throat is closing
- Swollen lips, tongue or face
- Chest pain
- A racing heartbeat that lasts more than a few minutes
- A headache
- A red, donut-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite: This could be a sign of Lyme disease, which should be treated with antibiotics
- A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads: This could be a sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks, which should be treated immediately.
Although most bug bites and stings do not turn into a severe or even fatal illness like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it’s important to pay attention to your symptoms. If you feel tired all the time, you have a headache, fever or body aches, or you develop a rash after a bug bite, see a board-certified dermatologist immediately.
North Atlanta Dermatology 770-814-8222 www.naderm.com
Offices in Duluth, Suwanee, Cumming & Buford
Dermatologists share tips for reducing scars
“The appearance of a scar often depends on how well your wound heals,” said board-certified dermatologist Ellen S. Marmur, MD, FAAD, associate clinical professor of dermatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “While scars from surgery or over joints like the knees and elbows are hard to avoid, scars caused by minor cuts and scrapes can become less noticeable by properly treating your wound at home.”
To reduce the appearance of scars caused by minor injuries, Dr. Marmur recommends the following tips:
- Always keep your cut, scrape or other skin injury clean. Gently wash the area with mild soap and water to keep out germs and remove debris.
- To help the injured skin heal, use petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist. Petroleum jelly prevents the wound from drying out and forming a scab; wounds with scabs take longer to heal. This will also help prevent a scar from getting too large, deep or itchy. As long as the wound is cleaned daily, it is not necessary to use anti-bacterial ointments.
- After cleaning the wound and applying petroleum jelly or a similar ointment, cover the skin with an adhesive bandage. For large scrapes, sores, burns or persistent redness, it may be helpful to use hydrogel or silicone gel sheets.
- Change your bandage daily to keep the wound clean while it heals. If you have skin that is sensitive to adhesives, try a non-adhesive gauze pad with paper tape. If using silicone gel or hydrogel sheets, follow the instructions on the package for changing the sheets.
- If your injury requires stitches, follow your doctor’s advice on how to care for the wound and when to get the stitches removed. This may help minimize the appearance of a scar.
- Apply sunscreen to the wound after it has healed. Sun protection may help reduce red or brown discoloration and help the scar fade faster. Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply frequently.
“Although no scar can be completely eliminated, most scars do fade over time,” said Dr. Marmur. “If you’re worried about the appearance of a scar, see a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can answer your questions and talk about ways to make your scar less visible.”
For injuries that are deep, very painful or become infected, Dr. Marmur recommends seeking immediate medical attention from a dermatologist or local urgent care facility.
Dermatologists’ top tips for relieving dry skin
Simple changes can soothe dry skin
Following the same skin care routine year round may not work so well when the humidity drops. Without a change in your skin care, dry air can make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. Dry skin can itch, flake, crack, and even bleed.
To help heal dry skin and prevent its return, dermatologists recommend the following.
- Prevent baths and showers from making dry skin worse. When your skin is dry, be sure to:
- Close the bathroom door
- Limit your time in the shower or bath to 5 or 10 minutes
- Use warm rather than hot water
- Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser
- Apply enough cleanser to remove dirt and oil, but avoid using so much that you see a thick lather
- Blot your skin gently dry with a towel
- Slather on the moisturizer immediately after drying your skin
- Apply moisturizer immediately after washing. Ointments, creams, and lotions (moisturizers) work by trapping existing moisture in your skin. To trap this much-needed moisture, you need to apply a moisturizer within few minutes of:
- Drying off after a shower or bath
- Washing your face or hands
- Use an ointment or cream rather than a lotion. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. Look for a cream or ointment that contains an oil such as olive oil or jojoba oil. Shea butter also works well. Other ingredients that help to soothe dry skin include lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum.
Tip: Carry a non-greasy hand cream with you, and apply it after each hand washing. This will greatly help relieve dry skin.
- Wear lip balm. Choose a lip balm that feels good on your lips. Some healing lip balms can irritate your lips. If your lips sting or tingle after you apply the lip balm, switch to one that does not cause this reaction.
- Use only gentle, unscented skin care products. Some skin care products are too harsh for dry, sensitive skin. When your skin is dry, stop using:
- Deodorant soaps
- Skin care products that contain alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA)
Avoiding these products will help your skin retain its natural oils.
- Wear gloves. Our hands are often the first place we notice dry skin. You can reduce dry, raw skin by wearing gloves. Be sure to put gloves on before you:
- Go outdoors in winter
- Perform tasks that require you to get your hands wet
- Get chemicals, greases, and other substances on your hands
- Choose non-irritating clothes and laundry detergent. When our skin is dry and raw even clothes and laundry detergent can be irritating. To avoid this:
- Wear cotton or silk under your clothing made of wool or another material that feels rough
- Use laundry detergent labeled “hypoallergenic”
- Stay warm without cozying up to a fireplace or other heat source. Sitting in front of an open flame or other heat source can dry your skin.
- Add moisture to the air. Plug in a humidifier. If you can check your home heating system, find out if you have a humidifier on the system — and whether it’s working.
When to see a dermatologist: Your skin should start to feel better quickly. If these changes do not bring relief, you may want to see a dermatologist. Very dry skin can require a prescription ointment or cream. Dry skin also can be a sign of a skin condition that needs treatment. A dermatologist can examine your skin and explain what can help reduce your discomfort.
How to prevent skin conditions in athletes
Athletes are at an increased risk of skin infections, which can have serious consequences. To help prevent infections, athletes, coaches and athletic trainers can follow these tips from dermatologists:
- Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed. A cut or scrape weakens the skin’s defense and allows germs that cause infections to enter.
- Prevent blisters to reduce infections. Apply a pad, gel or spray to areas that routinely blister. To help prevent blisters on the feet, ankles and hands, consider using specialized gloves and socks or wearing two pairs of socks. Athletes should also make sure that their footwear fits properly.
- Wear moisture-wicking clothes. This helps keep the athlete’s skin dry and prevents germs from growing.
- Wear sandals in the locker room. Wearing sandals or other shoes helps reduce infections on the feet.
- Shower after every practice and game. In addition, athletes should use an antimicrobial soap and wash their entire body.
- Do not share personal care items. Athletes should always use a clean towel after showering and use their own towels, soaps, razors and other personal care items.
- Wash clothes and towels after each use. Sports bags should also be washed, as germs that cause infections can remain in the bags and grow.
- Disinfect equipment, including protective gear, daily. For proper disinfection, follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Perform regular skin checks. Athletes should check their skin daily, especially those in high-risk sports, such as wrestling. Look for any changes, such as cuts, sores, redness, swelling and pus, and report any changes to an athletic trainer or doctor.
- Never use sandpaper or bleach to pass a skin check. This will cause more damage to the skin and keep the athlete on the bench longer.
Without treatment, skin infections can worsen. If you or your athletes notice anything on their skin that itches, burns or is infected, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.
Actinic Keratoses (AK)
What Is It?
An actinic keratosis, also known as a solar keratosis, is a scaly or crusty growth (lesion). It most often appears on the bald scalp, face, ears, lips, backs of the hands and forearms, shoulders, neck or any other areas of the body frequently exposed to the sun. You’ll often see the plural, “keratoses,” because there is seldom just one.
In the beginning, actinic keratoses are frequently so small that they are recognized by touch rather than sight. It feels as if you were running a finger over sandpaper. Patients may have many times more invisible (subclincal) lesions than those appearing on the surface.
Most often, actinic keratoses develop slowly and reach a size from an eighth to a quarter of an inch. Early on, they may disappear only to reappear later. Most become red, but some will be light or dark tan, pink, red, a combination of these, or the same color as your skin. Occasionally they itch or produce a pricking or tender sensation. They can also become inflamed and surrounded by redness. In rare instances, actinic keratoses can even bleed.
If you have actinic keratoses, it indicates that you have sustained sun damage and could develop any kind of skin cancer – not just squamous cell carcinoma.
Although the vast majority of actinic keratoses remain benign, some studies report that up to ten percent may advance to squamous cell carcinoma. This percentage does not sound very large, but it has a large impact. When it comes to squamous cell carcinomas, 40-60 percent begin as untreated actinic keratoses and may advance to invade the surrounding tissues. About 2 to 10 percent of these squamous cell carcinomas spread to the internal organs and are life-threatening.
Another form of actinic keratosis, actinic cheilitis, develops on the lips and may evolve into squamous cell carcinoma.
The more keratoses you have, the greater the chance that one or more may turn into skin cancer. In fact, some scientists interpret actinic keratosis as the earliest form of squamous cell carcinoma.
The best way to prevent actinic keratosis is to protect yourself from the sun. Here are some sun-safety habits that really work.
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Do not burn.
- Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See your dermatologist every year for a professional skin exam.