Acne is the term for the blocked pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that can appear typically on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Seventeen million Americans currently have acne, making it the most common skin disease in the country. While it affects mostly teenagers, and almost all teenagers have some form of acne, adults of any age can have it. Acne is not life-threatening, but it can cause physical disfigurement (scarring) and emotional distress.
Treatment for acne varies depending on the type and severity of lesions, as well as the patient's skin type, age and life. Options include:
- Topical Medications
- Blackhead Extraction
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Skin Care
- Blu-U Light Treatments
- Laser Treatments
Acne scarring can be treated in a variety of ways as well. These include:
- Chemical Peels
- Soft Tissue Fillers
- Laser/Pulsed Light Treatments
Actinic keratoses (AKs) are lesions on the surface layer of the skin (epidermis) caused by chronic exposure to sunlight, particularly ultraviolet light. AKs typically manifest as rough or scaly skin, bumps, mottled patterns and cutaneous horns. They may appear anywhere on the skin surface exposed to sunlight, but common areas include the face (including ears and lips), neck, arms and hands. Lesions range in size from a pinpoint to several centimeters in diameter and may be yellow, brown, red or violet, smooth, wrinkled or furrowed.
Actinic keratoses can signal the onset of skin cancer; they can become squamous cell carcinomas, the second-most common form of epidermal skin cancer. Depending on a number of factors such as the size, location and severity of lesions, as well as the patient’s age, health, medical history, occupation, expectations and preferences, treatment for AKs may take the form of traditional surgical excision, cryosurgery (freezing), curettage (scraping), topical medications, laser treatment, chemical peels, dermabrasion and pulsed light therapy. Routine re-examinations every few months and limitation of exposure to direct sunlight are recommended.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and accounts for over 75 percent of all skin cancer cases in the United States. This type of cancer rarely spreads and can usually be removed easily, but is still a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. Most cases are caused by long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays but people with fair skin and a personal or family history of skin cancer may be at a greater risk.
Basal cell carcinoma affects the top layer of the skin known as the epidermis. It may appear on the skin as a new growth that bleeds easily or does not heal quickly and may be white, pink, flesh-colored or brown. Removal treatment depends on the size, depth and location of the cancer, but may include excision, cryosurgery, Mohs surgery, laser surgery or electrodesiccation and curettage. Basal cell carcinomas are often a recurring condition, so preventive measures and regular body screenings should be taken advantage of.
Contact dermatitis involves an inflammation of the skin caused by contact with a foreign substance. Common triggers of contact dermatitis include poison ivy, certain foods, cleaning products, detergents, cosmetics and latex rubber. When a patient comes in contact with one of these triggers, he/she may experience a red rash, blistering, itchiness, dryness and more. Symptoms caused by contact dermatitis may a result of an immune system reaction or from an external allergic reaction to the specific trigger.
Most cases of contact dermatitis do not require treatment and will go away on their own within a few weeks. Patients can help relieve symptoms by avoiding the trigger, washing the affected area and applying hydrocortisone cream or taking oral antihistamines.
Eczema is a group of inflamed skin conditions that result in chronic itchy rashes. About 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of eczema, including 10-20 percent of all infants. Symptoms vary from person to person but often include dry, red, itchy patches on the skin which break out in rashes when scratched.
Objects and conditions that trigger itchy eczema outbreaks may include rough or coarse materials touching the skin, excessive heat or sweating, soaps, detergents, disinfectants, fruit and meat juices, dust mites, animal saliva and danders, upper respiratory infections and stress.
Treatment involves the restriction of scratching, use of moisturizing lotions or creams, cold compresses and nonprescription anti-inflammatory corticosteroid creams and ointments. If this proves insufficient, physicians may prescribe corticosteroid medication, antibiotics to combat infection, or sedative antihistamines. Phototherapy is a common procedure that uses light to reduce rashes. For severe cases, drugs such as cyclosporine A may be recommended.
Folliculitis is the inflammation of hair follicles that can occur anywhere on the skin. The cause of most cases of folliculitis is the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which enters the body through tiny breaks in the skin, such as those caused by friction with clothing, shaving too closely or insect bites. It also rapidly reproduces in environments like clogged pores and follicles. The symptoms of folliculitis are:
- Itchy skin
- Rash/reddened areas of skin
- Pustule development, typically on groin, neck or joints
The prescribed treatments for folliculitis are easily applied and tend to gravitate towards meticulous skin hygiene for the duration of the affliction. Application of topical antiseptics is most common, as they will clean out most aggravating factors and cleanse the skin. Over-the-counter topical antibiotics are also popular, though not always necessary. In more severe cases where the folliculitis does not respond to the aforementioned treatments and/or is spreading rampantly to different areas of skin, more powerful prescription-strength antibiotics, including penicillin derivatives, may be prescribed by your doctor.