General Dermatology


Hair and Nail Disorders

There are several different disorders affecting the hair and nails that may occur as a result of genetics, fungal or bacterial infections, hormone production or lifestyle habits. Nail disorders most often affect the toenails and involve bacteria or debris entering into the nail area. Common hair disorders include alopecia (hair loss), baldness, hirsutism (excessive female hair growth) and hair shaft disorders caused by how you treat your hair.

Treatment for hair and nail disorders depends on the type of disorder and its underlying cause. Many nail disorders can be effectively treated through oral or topical medications to get rid of the infection, while hair disorders can also be treated with medication to stimulate or prevent hair growth. Proper hygiene is also important in treating and preventing both types of disorders.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a group of chronic skin disorders that cause itching and/or burning, scaling and crusting of the skin. Over seven million men and women in the U.S. of all ages have some form of psoriasis, which may be mild, moderate or severe. The most commonly affected areas are the scalp, elbows, knees, hands, feet and genitals.

Psoriasis cannot be cured but it can be treated successfully, sometimes for months or years at a time and occasionally even permanently. Treatment depends on the type, severity and location of psoriasis. The patient's age, medical history and lifestyle may also have a significant impact on the methods utilized. The most common treatments are topical medications, phototherapy, photochemotherapy (PUVA), and oral or injectable medication (for severe symptoms).

Rashes

A rash is a change in the skin's color or texture. Simple rashes are called dermatitis, which means the skin is inflamed or swollen. Other common rashes include eczema, psoriasis, impetigo, shingles, chicken pox, measles, scarlet fever, insect bites and those caused by medical conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

A dermatologist is usually able to identify the rash by looking at it and asking about accompanying symptoms. Mild rashes can often be treated with simple home care practices such as avoiding soaps and bathing in warm water. Others may require moisturizing creams, prescription medications or more extensive treatment.

Skin Infections

Bacterial infection of the skin, also called cellulitis, occurs when a break in the skin allows bacteria that normally live on the surface to enter the body, causing inflammation, redness, pain, warmth, fever/chills, fatigue and muscle aches. The break itself may arise from an animal or insect bite or sting, after some surgeries, with the use of certain drugs, or from skin wounds due to injury, diabetic or ischemic ulcers, or if the patient has peripheral vascular disease. Left untreated, bacterial infection can lead to tissue death (gangrene), sepsis, generalized infection, shock, meningitis (if cellulitis is on the face) and lymphangitis (inflammation of the lymph vessels). Treatment may require hospitalization, oral antibiotics or analgesics to control pain.

Fungal infections of the skin are caused by microscopic organisms that live on the hair, nails (onychomycosis), mouth (angular cheilitis/oral thrush) and outer skin layers. They are quite common; the fungal infection cutaneous candidiasis, for example, which occurs in warm, moist crevices of the body, is the usual cause of diaper rash and vaginal yeast infections. Fungal infections are most likely to occur in people with diabetes, who are obese, or who take antibiotics or oral contraceptives. They are treatable (sometimes with difficulty) but often recur. Treatments include topical and systemic antifungal medications.

Skin Growths

Skin growths are very common dermatologic issues. They encompass many different types of lesions, but the majority of skin growths are benign and some may not even require treatment. Below are some of the most frequently seen forms of skin growths.

     

  • Moles
  • Warts
  • Skin Tags
  • Lentigines
  • Freckles
  • Seborrheic Keratosis

Warts

Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. Different warts respond to different treatments; some go away on their own. Salicylic acid products (in the form of drops, gels, pads and bandages) can help self-treatment of many warts by dissolving the keratin protein that makes up the wart and the dead skin above it. Others can be removed via liquid nitrogen freezing or electrical stimulation. Surgery may be recommended for painful or large warts that do not respond to these treatments.

Patch Testing

Patch testing is used to determine the cause of contact dermatitis, a skin condition that causes reactions to certain substances. These reactions are not considered to be allergies because they involve white blood cells entering the skin, rather than allergic antibodies. Since these reactions are not considered allergies, a specific test is needed to identify the trigger substance.

This test is performed by placing several different chemicals onto the skin of the back. The chemicals are usually contained in tiny metal cups and kept on the skin with tape for 48 hours. After being removed, the area is then examined for signs of a reaction. An additional 72 to 96 hours will pass and the area is examined again. Your doctor will discuss the findings of this exam with you to help determine the true causes of your condition, as some results may be misleading.

Removal of Benign Lesions

Benign skin lesions are very common dermatologic issues. They encompass many different types of growths, but the majority of these lesions are harmless and some may not even require treatment. However, there are benign lesions that may cause discomfort and some may lead to potentially malignant changes in the skin. In other cases, patients seek their removal purely because they are unhappy with their appearance aesthetically. Below are some of the most frequently seen forms of benign lesions and their typical removal options.