If you find yourself constantly brushing off white flakes of skin from your shirt collars and shoulders, then you may have a common skin condition known as dandruff. Dandruff is the shedding of excessive amounts of skin from the scalp, a condition that can be itchy, bothersome and embarrassing.
Most cases of dandruff are a mild form of a skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis, an inflammation of the scalp and sometimes the skin of the eyebrows, eyelids, nose, ears and chest. It occurs in areas that have the greatest number of sebaceous (oil) glands and is likely caused by a combination of an overproduction of skin oil and irritation from yeast. Psoriasis, a fungal infection or simple dry skin may also trigger dandruff. Hormonal or seasonal changes often make the itching and flaking worse.
The good news is that dandruff can almost always be controlled. Most mild cases of dandruff can be managed by shampooing regularly with a gentle, over-the-counter shampoo to reduce oiliness and skin build up. Your dermatologist can help you determine the best shampoo for your specific needs. Other tips for controlling dandruff include:
- Limit hair products. Hair sprays, gels and mousses can create excess build-up on your hair and scalp, increasing its oiliness.
- Treat your scalp gently. Harsh shampoos, daily blow-drying and forceful brushing can damage your scalp and make dandruff worse.
- Avoid scratching. Although tempting, scratching at dandruff can cause further irritation.
If you don’t see an improvement after several weeks of over-the-counter treatment, or if the condition worsens, visit your dermatologist. Severe cases of dandruff may need a prescription-strength or antifungal dandruff shampoo or cream to improve the skin condition.
Don’t throw away your dark clothes yet! With a little persistence and extra care, it’s possible to get your dandruff under control.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. More that two million people in the U.S. are afflicted by skin cancer each year, and that number is only rising. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
Skin cancer can be deadly, but it is also very curable when detected early. Along with proper prevention and sun protection, you should examine your body regularly to check for any suspicious spots or changes as they develop.
When You Spot It You Can Stop It
Early detection of skin cancer can save your life. Self-examine your skin regularly, at least once a month, to look for unusual skin changes. Visiting your dermatologist routinely is also helpful, as they can do a full-body exam to make sure existing spots are normal. Regular self-exams should become a habit. It only takes a few minutes, and this small investment could save your life.
Warning Signs: What to Look For
By regularly examining your body, you can detect skin cancer in its earliest stages. Notify your dermatologist immediately if you identify any of the following symptoms:
- A skin growth that appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored
- A mole, birthmark or any spot that: changes color, increases in size or thickness, changes in texture or is irregular in outline
- A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed
- An open sore that does not heal within a few weeks
- A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness or pain
A suspicious spot may be nothing, but its better to be safe than sorry. Always consult your dermatologist or physician if you notice any changes in your skin that seem abnormal.
ABCD’s of Skin Cancer Detection
As a good reminder, follow the ABCD rule as a guide for detecting skin cancer. Any of the below symptoms warrant a call to your dermatologist.
- Asymmetry: One half of a mole or spot doesn’t match the other half.
- Border: The edges of a mole are irregular or blurred.
- Color: The mole’s color or pigmentation is not uniform and/or has shades of brown, black, white, red or blue.
- Diameter: The spot or mole is larger than ¼ inch or 6 mm, approximately the size of a pencil eraser.
Skin cancer can be life-threatening, but it is also very preventable and treatable. Start taking care of your skin now by recognizing the early signs of skin cancer and protecting your skin from the sun.
Don’t over-complicate your skin care routine with a multitude of products. Taking care of your skin should be simple. In most cases, all it takes is daily cleansing, proper nourishment and protection from the sun and other harmful toxins.
All skin types need cleansed once or twice a day, especially before bed. Gently wash your face to remove old make up and grime that accumulate over the course of a day. If you notice a pimple or blemish, don’t pick. It won’t get rid of it faster and may lead to scarring. Follow with a moisturizer or lotion to retain moisture and prevent skin from drying out.
A well-balanced diet should also be an important part of your skin care regimen. Drink plenty of water and eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein. Berries, leafy greens, nuts and fish are rich in antioxidants and good for your skin. Exercise, get plenty of rest and reduce stress to keep skin looking and feeling its best.
Sun protection is important for every skin type. To guard against sun exposure, wear a hat and sunglasses when outdoors, seek shade when possible and avoid the hours of the day when the sun is its strongest. Always apply sunscreen to avoid premature aging, wrinkles and skin cancer, no matter what time of the year. Smoking is not only bad for your general health, but it can also damage your skin - when you smoke you expose skin to harmful toxins, which can accelerate aging skin.
A basic skin care routine is not only essential, but it’s easy. In many cases, enhanced daily cleansing, improved diet and heightened awareness about sun exposure and skin protection is all it takes to achieve more youthful, flawless skin. Talk to your dermatologist whenever you have questions or concerns abut your skin or your daily skin care routine.
While most people are aware of the potentially life-threatening health consequences of cigarette smoking, including lung cancer and emphysema, many people do not recognize the negative impact that smoking can have on the health and appearance of their skin.
Smoking causes biomechanical changes in our bodies that can speed up the normal aging process of the skin, contributing to deep wrinkles and fine lines that make us look older. The more cigarettes you smoke and the longer you smoke, the more wrinkled, leathery skin you will develop.
Why does smoking cause wrinkles?
Smoking accelerates skin aging in a number of ways.
- Nicotine in cigarettes deprive skin cells of oxygen and constricts the blood vessels that feed nutrients to the skin cells.
- Smoking damages collagen and elastin, the fibers that give skin its strength and elasticity. As fibrous substances are destroyed, skin begins to sag and droop.
- Smoking reduces the body’s store of vitamin A and vitamin C, which provide skin protection.
- Continual pursing of the mouth when inhaling or squinting of the eyes to avoid smoke can cause deep wrinkling around the eyes and mouth.
- Continual exposure to cigarette heat and smoke can make skin appear sallow and yellowish in color.
- As collagen is destroyed, other parts of the body such as the inner arms and neck may appear saggy and wrinkled with time.
There’s Help—Quit Now
Skin damage caused by smoking won’t be completely reversible. But the signs of smoking can be dramatically diminished and even avoided the sooner you stop smoking. Even those who have smoked for several years show noticeably less wrinkling and improved skin tone when they quit smoking.
If you are ready to stop smoking or have recently quit, but the visible signs of aging smoking left behind bother you, talk to your dermatologist. There are many different cosmetic treatments available that can reduce fine lines caused by smoking. Laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and some topical treatments can restore skin, giving it a rejuvenated and smoother appearance. We will examine your skin, discuss your goals for treatment and recommend suitable options.
The longer you smoke, the greater chance you have of developing irreversible wrinkles. By stopping your smoking habit now combined with an improved diet and a great anti-aging skin care regimen, it is possible to regain your youthful skin.
When your child breaks out all over in a blistery, itchy red rash, there’s a good chance it’s the chicken pox. Chicken pox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, and although it’s typically a childhood disease, people who have not contracted it as a child can suffer from it in adulthood as well.
Chicken pox is highly contagious and can spread from person to person by direct contact or through the air from an infected person's coughing or sneezing.
Symptoms of Chicken pox
Itchy red spots or blisters all over the body are telltale signs of chicken pox. It may also be accompanied by a headache, sore throat and fever. Symptoms are generally mild among children, but can cause serious complications in infants, adults and people with weakened immune systems.
The most common symptoms of chicken pox include:
- Itchy rash all over the body, including the face, on the arms and legs and inside the mouth
- Fatigue and irritability
- Feeling of general illness
- Reduced appetite
The symptoms of chicken pox may resemble other skin problems or medical conditions, so it is always important to consult your child's physician or dermatologist for proper diagnosis. If the chicken pox rash seems generalized or severe, or if the child has a high grade fever or is experiencing a headache or nausea, seek medical care right away.
The incubation period (from exposure to first appearance of symptoms) is 14 to 16 days. When the blisters crust over, they are no longer contagious and the child can return to normal activity.
Relief for Chicken Pox
It is important not to scratch the blisters as it can slow down the healing process and result in scarring. Scratching may also increase the risk of a bacterial infection. To help relieve the itching, soak in a cool or lukewarm oatmeal bath. A physician may recommend anti-itch ointments or medications, such as over-the-counter antihistamines, to control this troublesome itch.
Although about four million children get chicken pox each year, it may be preventable via a vaccine. Usually one episode of chicken pox in childhood provides lifelong immunity to the virus.
Fortunately, chicken pox is more of a nuisance than a concern. With time and extra rest, the rash will pass and the child will be good as new! Contact your dermatologist whenever you have questions or concerns about chicken pox.
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