Dermatologists – The Experts in Your Skin, Hair and Nails
Dermatologists are experts in your skin, hair, and nails. They can also identify symptoms on your skin that may indicate an underlying health problem.
Your dermatologist will take a look at your entire body, checking the skin from head to toe. If you have any questions or concerns, visit https://www.montgomerydermatologists.com/.
The acne that most of us deal with as teenagers can persist well into adulthood, but dermatologists offer effective treatments to control the condition. A dermatologist can also provide guidance on how to avoid or minimize scarring if your acne has left behind marks.
Acne forms when hair follicles become blocked with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. The clogged pores appear as blackheads or whiteheads on the surface of the skin. Some types of acne are inflammatory and form red bumps that may contain pus, such as papules and pimples.
Hormonal changes during puberty are often the cause of acne, but the condition can occur at any age and affect people from all backgrounds. It is important to follow a good skin care regimen and use only approved products, especially those labeled noncomedogenic, which are less likely to clog pores.
Using an over-the-counter topical retinoid can help unclog pores and decrease inflammation. A dermatologist can also prescribe a low dose of oral antibiotics such as clindamycin, erythromycin, or tetracycline to reduce bacteria in the skin and prevent infection. These drugs also suppress the overproduction of sebum, which is an underlying cause of acne in some people.
Avoid picking or squeezing your acne, as this can lead to permanent scarring. Instead, let the dermatologist take a closer look at your skin and make a recommendation for you. Many other treatments can be beneficial, including laser therapy or light devices that reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. It is also a good idea to choose hair and makeup products that won’t clog pores. Lastly, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help control your acne.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It happens when cells grow out of control and form a mass of abnormal tissue. When it’s caught early, a dermatologist can often remove the growth with little to no scarring and high chances of eliminating it entirely. However, the outlook, or prognosis, for skin cancer depends on a number of factors including the type of cancer and its stage.
There are two main types of skin cancer: nonmelanoma and melanoma. Nonmelanoma includes basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and actinic keratosis. These are often caused by sun exposure and may develop in areas that have been sun-damaged or burned in the past. They may also be related to genetic mutations. Melanoma is more serious. It occurs in the cells that produce pigment, or color, in the skin, hair and eyes. It may be related to a person’s immune system and is sometimes associated with other medical conditions like lymphoma, AIDS or certain medications such as immunosuppressants used after organ transplantation.
Getting a skin cancer diagnosis starts with a visual examination by a dermatologist or primary care physician. It’s important to examine the entire body, especially parts that are exposed to sunlight such as the arms, legs, trunk, face and neck. You should pay special attention to moles, as they are the most common site of skin cancers, especially if they’re changing in appearance.
If a suspicious growth is found, the dermatologist will perform additional tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Treatment options include surgical removal, cryotherapy (which freezes the tumor), excisional surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. A fellowship-trained dermatologic surgeon is skilled at delicate skin-sparing techniques that preserve the appearance of the surrounding area while also ensuring that all of the cancerous cells are removed.
Sun damage is the leading cause of cosmetic skin problems such as dark spots, uneven skin texture, wrinkles and enlarged pores. It can also contribute to accelerated aging. This is because the UV rays of sunlight penetrate deep into the skin’s tissues, damaging the underlying collagen and elastin. The resulting breakdown of these fibers causes the skin to sag and wrinkle prematurely.
Excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer. When the DNA of skin cells is damaged, they begin to reproduce in a rapid and uncontrolled manner. Over time, this results in a clump of abnormal cells that may be malignant (cancerous) or benign. The body is unable to repair these cells and they may spread to other parts of the body.
Some people with light skin who seldom protect themselves from the sun develop precancerous growths called actinic keratoses, which resemble dry patches of scaly skin. If left untreated, these scaly lesions can eventually evolve into a squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer.
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to improve the appearance of skin that has been damaged by excessive sun exposure. These include chemical peels, laser treatments, dermabrasion, skin pigmentation lightening and dermal fillers.
A dermatologist can help you avoid sun damage by recommending a good sunscreen that contains both UVA and UVB protection. In addition, it is important to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., to wear hats and sunglasses, and to drink lots of water. Certain medications, such as antibiotics and oral contraceptives, can make the skin more sensitive to sun damage, so it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor to determine if any of your medicines will increase your sensitivity to the sun.
Skin infections can happen when bacteria, fungi or parasites invade the normal skin through a break, like a cut or scratch. They usually show up as a reddish or swollen area of the skin that’s warm and painful to touch. Some infections spread from the skin to the tissues under the skin and bloodstream, which can be life-threatening in people with weakened immune systems.
The type of infection determines the treatment plan, which may include oral or topical medications or surgery. Some infections require hospitalization, especially when they’re severe or complicated.
A skin infection due to a bacterial pathogen, called cellulitis (say: sel-uh-LIE-tis), affects both the outer layer of the skin and the middle layer of the skin as well as the muscles below the skin. It can be caused by many different types of bacteria, but the most common are Staphylococcus aureus and group A b-hemolytic streptococci. Some infections can also develop from a viral infection, like herpes or poxvirus.
Most bacterial skin infections appear as erythema, edema and pain, but some may have focal accumulations of pus or fluid (bullae or vesicles). They’re easier to identify on lighter skin tones.
Most bacterial skin infections are simple and heal with antibiotics. Some infections, like cellulitis, are more serious and may need to be treated with additional medication or surgical intervention. If the bacterial infection spreads to the lymph nodes and bloodstream, it can be life-threatening. To diagnose a skin infection, doctors may scrape or swab the involved tissue and send it for testing for bacteria. They’ll also look at the person to see if they have any underlying conditions or diseases that increase their risk of infection.
As the largest organ in your body, your skin protects you from germs; repels water; and covers blood vessels, nerves, and internal organs. It also helps you move and stay warm. Because your skin is so important, you should always care for it. A good way to do this is by seeing a dermatologist regularly. Dermatologists treat a variety of conditions affecting the skin, nails, and hair. They might remove a cancerous mole at its earliest stage before it can spread, reduce the size of a painful cyst, or help a patient find relief from their itchy eczema.
When you visit a dermatologist, they will start by taking a close look at your skin. They will ask questions about your symptoms and history, and they may use a tool called a dermscope to see deep into your pores.
Dermatologists are also skilled in diagnosing scars. They will usually note if your scar is old or new and how it appeared after an injury. They will also check where the scar is located, because the skin heals differently in different areas. For example, scars in the legs often develop keloid scarring, which can be unsightly.
When you meet with a dermatologist, it is helpful to bring copies of any recent test results or images. Also, bring a list of medications that you are taking or have taken in the past, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs, or supplements. It’s also a good idea to bring a friend or family member along, to take notes and be another set of eyes. This person can also help remind you to schedule tests or follow-up appointments. It’s important to keep up with your treatment regimen, as even the most minor scars can affect your quality of life.