Reasons to get a regular skin check

Reasons to get a regular skin check

Reasons to get a regular skin check

  • Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer
  • Melanoma, a dangerous kind of skin cancer, is on the rise
  • It can be difficult to see all parts of our own skin
  • Skin cancers and pre-skin cancers (actinic keratoses) can be detected and treated
  • Irregular moles may be tracked for changes

At Complete Dermatology, every patient who comes to our practice will be seen by a highly board certified dermatologist in Fairfax VA.

Healthy hands and nails

Healthy hands and nails

What can I do to prevent hangnails and inflammation around my nails?

Often this occurs from irritation to the skin surrounding the nail. To decrease irritation, particularly in cases where there is frequent hand washing, it is important to avoid irritants such as scented or alcohol containing products or friction of any kind. Additionally, it is helpful to only use products with labels such as “unscented”, “fragrance free”, or “sensitive skin”. Lastly, it is very important to frequently moisturize the hands and nails, with a hydrating moisturizer, e.g. one containing ceramides. Best results are achieved when moisturizer is used after every time hands are washed. This usually means needing to have several bottles of lotion in convenient places, around the house and on the go.

How can I have less brittle and healthier nails that don’t crack?

Often nails can be dry and cracked from frequent hand washing and wetness. Therefore, it is important to apply moisturizer after every time hands are washed, making sure to apply some to the cuticle (where the nail root is). Additionally, some patients find it helpful to supplement with over the counter biotin, 5mg daily for about 6months, to see if it makes a difference. If there is persistence cracking of the nail without improvement despite doing the above regimen or if you are experiencing any systemic symptoms, a laboratory work-up can be done to insure that there are no underlying systemic causes for brittle nails.

When should I see a dermatologist about my nail concerns?

You can see a dermatologist for this at any time. It is especially important to come in if you have discoloration or lifting of the nails or if they display symptoms of discomfort or pain.

Dry skin relief

Dry skin relief

When skin doesn’t retain a sufficient amount of moisture, dry skin can occur. This can happen for many reasons, including colder dry winter, use of hard soaps, or other medical conditions. Dry skin can crack, flake, itch, and even bleed.

To relieve you from dry skin, these are the tips we recommend:

1. Keep your baths & showers short: do not extend your bath or shower for more then 5-10min. When you bathe for a long time, you may loose much of the skin’s oily layer and cause it to loose moisture. Use lukewarm and not hot water with mild cleanser.

2. Avoid skin care products with fragrance: Read ingredients on your skin products. Alcohol-based toners, deodorant soaps, and skin care products that contain fragrance can irritate dry skin.

3. Avoid wearing fabrics that can irritate your skin: Wear fabrics such as 100 percent cotton. Wear a soft fabric underneath if you decide to wear wool or any other rough fabric.

4. Make moisturizer your best friend: Always apply moisturizer after washing your hands or bathing. This helps plug the spaces between your skin cells and seal in moisture while your skin is still damp. Use petroleum jelly on your skin before heading off to bed, if more relief is required. Use waterproof gloves, if your hands are frequently immersed in water.

5. To add moisture in the air, use a humidifier: Set it to around 60%, a level that should be sufficient to replenish the top layer of the skin.

6. Avoid scratching the affected area: Try not to scratch the affected area. If you keep scratching, you’ll likely make it worse and sometimes cause it to bleed. You can use a moisturizer or cold pack to control the itch or an anti-itch cream like Sarna lotion.

Sometimes dry irritated skin can be a sign of medical condition, such as eczema. If these tips do not bring relief, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. Irritated skin may require a prescription ointment or cream.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

With repeated sun exposure, the skin may appear dry, wrinkled, discolored, and scaly. However, the most serious threat caused by sun exposure is skin cancer, which is the most common of all cancers. The greatest risk factor for skin cancer is UV radiation. Therefore, it is important to protect yourself from the harmful UV rays of the sun with sunscreen.

Before you sit to relax on the lawn chair — or take the kids to the beach, read the label and find the best sunscreen for your skin. Our guide can help you understand the terms.

• Choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection. Sunscreens with this label protect against both UVA and UVB rays, which protects against sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging. Cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), benzophenones (oxybenzone), sulisobenzone, zinc oxide, salicylates, titanium dioxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789) and ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) are some ingredients with broad-spectrumprotection.

• Choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. The level of protection provided by the sunscreen against UVB rays is defined by the SPF number, so the higher the number the better the protection. But, no sunscreen protects you completely. At the most, it can provide99%protection.

• If you’re going to be in the sun for a long period of time, especially in water, it’s worth getting a sunscreen that is waterproof or water resistant, thus sustaining its effects for40 minutes or80 minutesafter being the water, respectively.

Apart from the pointers above, you can keep in mind your skin type when considering which sunscreen to buy. For those with dry skin, an oil based or thicker sunscreen may be preferred, whereas for those with oily skin a gel-based or less greasy option may be considered. As long as your sunscreen meets the SPF and broad spectrum requirements above, you can give them a try and see what works best for you.

Surgical Procedures

Surgical Procedures

Procedures done in the dermatology office

There are several types of procedures and surgeries done by a dermatologist in clinic.

1. A skin biopsy:

One of the most common kinds of procedures done by a dermatologists is a skin biopsy. This is done for lesions that are suspicious for skin cancer or for a rash that needs further investigation. The 2 most common types are a shave biopsy and a punch biopsy. In both cases, the affected skin is anesthetized locally. Then a small piece of skin is removed.

a. In the case of a shave biopsy, usually done for skin lesions, a small sample of skin is taken with a shaving tool, such as a flat razor blade. Then the skin is allowed to heal without the need for stitches. It may take a few weeks for the skin to fully heal with wound care and it can leave a small round scar.

b. In the case of a punch biopsy, usually needed for rashes, a small piece of skin is removed with a cookie cutter kind of device (usually 4mm). This usually requires the placement of a suture to close the skin, after which time the suture is removed in 1-2 weeks, depending on where on the body the biopsy was done.

2. Electrodesiccation and curettage:

This is a procedure, often done for less aggressive and superficial skin cancers. The affected skin is anesthetized locally and a curette is used to scrape the lesion in 3 directions, followed by electrodesiccation (contact with a hot metallic tip). This is then done 2 additional times (in the same visit). This does not require stitches, but the skin does require a few weeks to fully heal with wound care and does leave a round scar.

3. Skin surgery:

This is typically done for skin cancers or abnormal (dysplastic) moles that do not require Mohs surgery or further work up. The affected area is anesthetized locally and then the skin cancer is removed with a scalpel. Typically, for basal cell and squamous cell cancer some margin of normal skin around the lesion is also removed. For melanoma, a greater margin of normal skin is removed, depending on the depth of the melanoma. This typically involves placement of dissolvable stitches under the skin and non-dissolvable ones on top of the skin. These are removed in 1-2 weeks, depending on the location of the surgery. It is very important to do proper wound care while the stitches are in place and to decrease level of activity of the area involved for several weeks after the surgery to prevent complications.

4. Mohs surgery:

Moh’s surgery is a skin conserving surgery, generally done with local anesthetic. It allows for the affected skin to be removed in stages, to allow for minimal normal skin to be removed while eliminating the skin cancer. With each stage, the skin removed is checked in real time for any positive margins of skin cancer. If positive margins are found, then another stage is done. Specifically, the surgeon is able to go back to the particular area that has the skin cancer and just remove that, which is then also checked for margins. There are certain criteria that qualify a patient’s skin cancer to be removed this way. These relate to the location, size or aggressiveness of the skin cancer, as well as the immune status of a patient.

Pregnancy and your skin

Pregnancy and your skin

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Please be sure to remind all your doctors at every visit, directly, that you are pregnant. Also, be sure to let your OB doctor know of all your prescription and over the counter medications, also at every visit. Make sure to discuss with them any new medicines that you are unsure are safe.

What is a cream I can use for the prevention of stretch marks ?

Unfortunately, there has not been an ingredient and or cream that has consistently shown positive results in preventing stretch marks. There have been a few studies with positive results, but these have involved a compound of several ingredients, and so it was not clear which ingredient was the most helpful and some of the ingredients are not easily accessible. Still, it is advised to apply a hydrating moisturizer frequently to keep the skin on the abdomen as healthy as possible and decrease any itching in the area.
Some risk factors for stretch marks are younger maternal age, a positive family history, and the size of the baby at delivery.

What can I do to treat stretch marks if they happen ?

Luckily stretch marks usually fade on their own and become significantly less visible with time. Still, there are certain therapies that can improve their appearance. These include prescription creams and certain lasers after delivery.

What is a good sunscreen to use while I am pregnant ?

Generally sunscreens with the active ingredients of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide are recommended. These are physical blockers and will reflect the sun’s rays, rather than chemically absorbing them, as chemical blockers do. Choose a physical blocker with SPF of 30 or greater.

What should I avoid at the hair and nail salon ?

Generally, it is advised that you avoid dying your hair all together, to avoid exposure to any chemicals that may be absorbed by the scalp or breathed in. Highlights tend to be permitted because the chemical used for this does not touch the scalp. Still, often when high lightening is done, a toner may be used, which does touch the scalp. As far as nail products go, generally acrylic, shellac or gel nails are avoided during pregnancy. While application of these may be safe in certain situations, it may be best to postpone having these done until after pregnancy.

Is there a way for me to avoid getting a rash during pregnancy ?

It is important to have a good skin care regimen during pregnancy to avoid break outs of dry skin and eczema, which would avoid the use of prescription topical creams. Therefore, make sure to avoid any irritants, such as dryer sheets and fabric softners or fragrant products; only use products with labels such as “unscented”, “sensitive skin” or “fragrance free”; and finally moisturize your entire body after showers daily or several times per week (more often for areas that seem dry).

What should I do if I get a rash while I am pregnant ?

There are several rashes that characteristically occur during pregnancy and need to be evaluated promptly. Therefore, if you do get a rash sometime during your pregnancy, make sure to make an appointment with your dermatologist.