The skin is the most visible part of the body. Unfortunately there are many chronic conditions that can afflict the skin. At Chevy Chase Dermatology, we not only properly diagnose these conditions, but provide up-to-date effective treatments that all of our patients expect and deserve.
Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that causes redness, flushing and swelling on the face and may result in pustules, cysts and nose enlargement. Many people find that the emotional effects of rosacea – such as low self-confidence and avoidance of social situations – are more difficult to handle than the physical ones. Although it can affect anyone, rosacea typically appears in light-skinned, light-haired adults aged 30-50. It is not yet known what causes rosacea and the disease is not curable, although it can be effectively treated with topical and oral medications, laser treatments and intense pulsed light treatments.
Ringworm is a contagious skin infection that manifests as itchy, scaly, ring-shaped red patches on the skin, bald spots in the hair or beard, or discolored, thickened nails. When we refer to “athlete’s foot,” we are really talking about ringworm.
Ringworm is caused by a fungal infection. It tends to occur in warm, moist areas of the body, and can be passed from person to person by touching the skin or an item that has been in contact with the infected area. Pets – especially cats – can also transmit the fungus. Many cases occur in children, although people of any age can be affected.
Use of anti-fungal powders or creams and keeping the skin clean and dry are often sufficient to treat the infection. However, if symptoms are severe, prescription anti-fungal medications may be required.
Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment
Seborrhea is a chronic skin condition of unknown origin which causes scaling, oiliness, redness and itching of the skin, most commonly on the scalp (in which case it is often referred to as dandruff), face, ears, and trunk. Therapies include various medicated shampoos, cleansing agents, topical steroids and anti-yeast creams.
Treatment of Seborrheic Keratoses and Skin Tags
Seborrheic keratoses are benign flesh-colored or tan waxy patches that eventually may become dark brown or black, greasy, rough and unsightly. They can easily be removed with liquid nitrogen, curettage, electrosurgery and laser surgery.
Skin tags are benign small protrusions of the skin commonly located on the sides of the neck, in the armpits, or on upper trunk of middle-aged and elderly people. They can be easily removed with liquid nitrogen, electrosurgery or simple surgical procedures.
Skin Cancer Treatment
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. 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. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early. All skin cancers appear to be related to sun exposure. Ultraviolet-A and ultraviolet-B both play a role.
The most common skin cancers are:
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – the most common of all skin cancers. It tends to be slowly growing and frequently appears as a pinkish, translucent, pearly “pimple” that does not go away on sun damaged skin. It can also look like a scaly patch or resemble a scar.
- Squamous cell carcinoma – tends to be more rapidly growing than BCC. It may also spread especially if located on the ear, forehead, lip, and top of the hand. It presents as an enlarging scaly nodule with poorly defined borders that may ulcerate. It may arise from an actinic keratosis.
- Malignant melanoma – it is the fastest growing cancer in the US; the incidence doubling every 10 years. Survival is directly related to early detection since prognosis depends on the tumor thickness. It may spread to the lymph nodes, lung, liver, brain and other skin areas if not discovered and removed surgically in time. Often, the patient will present with a change in existing mole or a new pigmented lesion which often shows irregular borders, varied colors, and recent enlargement.
The American Cancer Society recommends routine professional skin examinations every three years for people ages 20-40 and yearly for anyone over 40. Those with the history of skin cancer or abnormal moles need more frequent skin exams. Dr. Sommerville offers total body skin cancer screening examinations and, when necessary, performs biopsies and removals of suspicious moles and growths right in the office under local anesthesia.
Warts usually present as flesh-colored, raised, rough bumps that may show black specks of pigment representing punctuate bleeding points. They are caused by papilloma virus and may spread on contact with infected skin. Therapies include liquid nitrogen therapy (freezing), applications of such topical substances as salicylic acid and lactic acid or cantharidin derived from the blister beetle, electrosurgery, immunotherapy and other treatments.