Did You Know Cold and Flu Season is also Lice Season?
As we make our way quickly through Fall, many of us are thinking about ways we can get ourselves and our families through cold and flu season relatively unscathed. We’re stocking up on vitamin C and might have already gotten a flu shot. For families with young children, this is also a time to think about how to spot and treat head lice should a breakout occur at school.
Lice breakouts are quite common during the winter months. The nearly-invisible critters that cause so much itching and heartache love to hop from hoods to hats situated side-by-side in classrooms and then onto the precious heads that wear them. Approximately 12 million children contract head lice each year. Those affected aren’t just school-aged, either; many toddlers come home from daycare with this condition or get it when lice spread to them from a sibling.
Getting head lice is not an indication that a child is lacking in the grooming department. This common condition is just a matter of chance. If a child complains of intense itching of the scalp or can be seen scratching their head a lot, parents have a good reason to take a very close look at individual strands of hair for indications of head lice. The tiny creatures that cause extraordinary itching may accumulate at the nape of the neck or behind the ears. A fully-grown louse is brown and about the size of a sesame seed. What may be easier to see are the light-colored eggs that attach to the hair shaft.
Head Lice Treatment
Most cases of head lice can be treated with an over-the-counter product (Nix) containing 1% permethrin. Shampoo containing piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrins might also be used. These need to stay on the head for 10 minutes before rinsing. When using a lice remedy, it is crucial to follow instructions exactly to achieve the desired outcome comfortably and safely. Usually, treatment needs to be repeated after one week.
In addition to using an appropriate lice-killing product, it is necessary to wash all clothing, bedding, and bath linens that have come into contact with the affected person. Stuffed animals are not-exempt; they need to be washed, also. If an item cannot be washed, it can be placed into the dryer on high setting for 30 minutes. If neither cleaning option is possible, an item may be placed in an airtight container for 1 to 2 weeks.
Medical care is not always needed to treat lice, but it may be necessary if home remedies do not work as intended. For information on lice treatment, call 610.594.6660.
Eczema in Infants
Eczema can be a difficult skin condition to recognize, especially in infants whose skin may be more reactive to stimuli. According to research, 10 to 20 percent of infants may develop this chronic dermatologic disease. If an infant frequently shows signs of redness and bumps on the arms and legs or in the creases of the elbows and knees, a visit with a dermatologist can provide insight into potential reasons. Because eczema is an incurable but very treatable condition, it is vital to obtain an accurate diagnosis for that persistent rash.
Here, we discuss a few strategies that may soothe eczema irritation on an infant’s skin.
Switch Laundry Detergent
Infants are more prone to skin sensitivities than adults as it is. If eczema is also suspected, one of the first strategies to try is changing laundry detergent. Often, dermatologic inflammation results from a reaction to the scent or dye in laundry products, including both soap and fabric softeners. Products labeled as “free and clear” are made without fragrance or dye and are thus better suited to people with sensitive skin or diseases like eczema.
This same strategy applies to soaps and lotions used on infant skin.
Apply Cool Compresses
A baby is not likely to handle the application of an ice pack on their skin. However, cool compresses can be used to soothe skin during times in which eczema flares up. For the best effect, the skin should be cooled for about five minutes and then left alone for 20 minutes. This cycle can be repeated as necessary.
Apply Emollient Cream
It is a misconception to believe that a rash needs to be dried out to go away. Particularly when we are dealing with eczema, moisture becomes a priority. Infants with eczema may find relief when their skin is kept moist with a thick emollient cream like Aquaphor or Eucerin. Creams should be fragrance-free. Ingredients like petroleum jelly and lichochalone are also appealing because these substances create a soothing moisture barrier.
The Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center has offices in Kennett Square, Coatesville, and Exton. To schedule a consultation, call 610-594-6660.
What Could be Causing Itchy, Red Skin
Redness and itching are two common symptoms that affect all of us from time to time. Usually, rashes are transient, and they clear up on their own. If patches of dry, red, itchy skin persist or come and go frequently, you may want to explore the chance that you have a chronic skin condition. Two of the prevalent problems that are diagnosed, eczema and psoriasis, may look similar. Here, we discuss the how to differentiate between them.
Both eczema and psoriasis can cause general skin inflammation that looks like a rash. Where they differ is in their cellular makeup.
Eczema is a type of skin inflammation that may flare up in response to specific triggers, such as warmer temperatures. There are several forms of eczema, with atopic dermatitis being the most common among people of all ages. Eczema often develops in childhood. From early in life, this condition may flare up periodically, requiring medical treatment to soothe irritated skin.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that is rooted in the immune system. It is categorized as an autoimmune disease, meaning that the immune system is not functioning correctly and its dysfunction is causing skin cells to multiply too quickly. The buildup of skin cells is referred to as plaques. These cells may look like silvery scales that cover inflamed, red, itchy skin.
The redness and itching that occur with each of these conditions may be difficult to identify accurately without a thorough skin examination. Your dermatologist can observe your skin and notice small details like the thickness of the skin in areas of inflammation or the overall dryness of the affected tissue.
Treating Chronic Skin Conditions
Chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can be troubling. Maintaining optimal skin health is much easier when you know what you’re dealing with. Although specific lifestyle habits can decrease the severity of eczema and psoriasis flare-ups, medical treatment is necessary for each of these conditions to be managed as well as possible.
Treatments for eczema and psoriasis range from topical cortisone creams to immunotherapy with oral medication to phototherapy. If over-the-counter cortisone and healthy lifestyle habits such as eating well and limiting alcohol consumption do not help alleviate redness and itching, call Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center at 610-594-6660. We proudly serve patients from Coatesville, Exton, Kennett Square, and surrounding areas.
What to do about Warts
We can hold open and honest conversations about a lot of things; that breakout on our back, the horrible reaction we had that time we tried to wax our upper lip. But warts. These little problems are another story. For whatever reason, most people hold back when it comes to revealing their struggle with a fleshy growth somewhere on their body, as if talking about it would lead straight to social isolation. Really, warts aren’t all that bad. They don’t mean you’re unhygienic. They don’t mean you should avoid socializing until your skin has cleared. Here, we crush the stigma of warts by offering facts and tips.
- Certain warts have certain preferences. A wart is not a wart is not a wart. There are more than 100 different kinds. And each type may develop on a particular part of the body. For instance, one strain of the human papillomavirus may be more at home in the mucous membrane of the cervix. Another strain may find it easier to affect the soles of the feet or palms of the hands. This can be good news because it can assure you that your mate’s plantar wart won’t lead to growths where you don’t want them.
- You can spread warts to yourself. We usually worry that coming into contact with another person’s wart will spread contamination to our skin. This is pretty rare. What is more likely to happen is that one wart spreads to another area of similar skin on our own body. Because this risk exists, it is essential that you not pick at any wart. Instead, cover it with a band-aid to prevent viral contamination.
- Treatment can be simple. Many warts will go away with over-the-counter medication and by keeping the wart covered. It is essential not to shave a wart; this only reveals higher amounts of the virus that caused it. Using a commercial salicylic acid product on a washed, roughed wart causes tissue to die off gradually. If a wart resists over-the-counter treatment, schedule a visit with your dermatologist for medical treatment.
Our team is happy to serve patients from Exton, Coatesville, and Kennett Square. To schedule your visit, call 610-594-6660.
Expectant Moms Have Unique Skincare Needs
Usually, what gets the most attention during first-time pregnancies is the growing baby bump. When we consider health and wellness, thoughts may revolve around eating for two and implementing strategies to manage morning sickness. It isn’t very often that the skincare needs of expectant mothers are brought to light. We’d like to do that here.
During pregnancy, the vast majority of medical treatments a woman may have become elective. This is due to the unknown potential for harm to the growing fetus. While there are virtually zero clinical studies that include pregnant women, the FDA has established basic safety ratings for common topical and ingestible medications based on animal studies and human observations. Without rigorous studies and substantial evidence, it is safest to err on the side of caution. Here, we suggest a few everyday skincare products that should be avoided and a few that are suitable for expectant mothers.
- The risks of oral isotretinoin include malformations affecting the central nervous system, heart, and brain. Topical retinoids, which are commonly used for acne and wrinkle management, may also present a risk. More extensive studies seem to refute the risks of topical retinoids, but pregnant women may wish to avoid them altogether by switching products.
- Salicylic acid. Here’s an interesting note. Pregnant women are advised to avoid aspirin due to the associated risk of miscarriage. Well, the chemical makeup of salicylic acid is similar to aspirin. Therefore, any use of this common beta-hydroxy acid should be limited to spot treatments only.
- Oral antibiotics. Sometimes, patients are prescribed oral antibiotics to control acne. Conventional medicines, such as doxycycline, can inhibit fetal bone growth and should, therefore, be avoided. Alternative medications may be prescribed to assist expectant mothers with acne control.
- Vitamin C and E provide antioxidant power as well as the moisture boost expectant mothers may need.
- Benzoyl peroxide contained in commercial face-wash may remain suitable throughout pregnancy. First, because concentration is low and, second, because the body metabolizes benzoyl peroxide into benzoic acid. Benzoic acid can be found in many wheat flours.
- Alpha hydroxy acids are generally safe. Mothers-to-be can even have AHA chemical peels to treat common discoloration during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, skincare is not something to tackle on your own. Schedule a visit with us at 610-594-6660.
Why a Good Tan is Not the Answer to Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a dermatologic condition that we are beginning to hear about with greater frequency. The reason why is because treatment options for the chronic problem of visible plaques and other symptoms have improved significantly in recent years. Because there has been progressing in our understanding of psoriasis, as well as what might alleviate symptoms, there has also been an increase in confusion about the best way to approach this skin disease.
There is one particular idea about treating psoriasis that needs to be discussed: the idea that tanning is a viable treatment option. Many people with psoriasis naturally discover that their symptoms improve when they spend a little time in the sunshine. This doesn’t mean that symptoms disappear; it just means that they improve. How long they improve and to what degree varies from one person to another. The very fact that this has been noted, though, has led to a second theory: why not treat psoriasis by using an indoor tanning bed?
Tanning of any kind is a practice that comes with inherent risk. There is no way to avoid it. Therefore, relying on UV exposure as the sole treatment for psoriasis could be dangerous to the long-term health of the skin. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous because the light that is emitted by tanning lamps is not the same as natural UV light. Sunshine is composed of several wavelengths of ultraviolet light. One of them tans the skin, and one also leads to sunburn. A sunburn is our warning sign that our skin is being damaged. Tanning beds do not have that light. We need that warning, so we do not overexpose ourselves to dangerous ultraviolet rays.
Using UV Safely
Ultraviolet light does benefit the skin, especially when we are addressing psoriasis. Through research, it has been discovered that the most beneficial light is narrow-band UVB. This is the gentlest wavelength, and yet the wavelength of light that has the greatest impact on cellular turnover related to psoriasis plaques.
Psoriasis may be a chronic skin condition, but it doesn’t have to create persistent frustration. Call 610-594-6660 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dermatologists.
Want a Big Impact on your Skin? Make These Three Choices!
Maybe you’ve heard that your skin is the largest organ of your body. Without even being told, you know that your skin is exposed to environmental elements more than any other part of the body. These facts are so common that they easily fall to the wayside. Skin care is not something that gets much attention on a proactive stance. What we typically discuss are ways to minimize aging with injectables and laser treatments; how to reduce acne with appropriate medical care. Here, we want to jump to the preventive side and talk about three simple choices that can make a positive impact on your skin now and for your lifetime.
Keep it Safe
Because the skin is so exposed to ultraviolet light, protection is a top priority. UV radiation from sunlight (and tanning lamps) is a leading cause of premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and skin cancer. There are numerous sunscreen products from which to choose, but many experts agree that a quality zinc oxide sunscreen offers outstanding protection from the sun. It isn’t enough to wear sunscreen during that day at the beach; daily use is vital to ongoing dermatologic health.
Keep it Nourished
What we eat matters. Food nourishes our cells, and our cells accumulate at the surface of the body to create our appearance. Dull, acne-prone and aging skin are somewhat within our power to control when we feed the body well. To nourish the skin from the inside out:
- Consume fresh fruits and vegetables daily. The more fresh foods we eat, the better our skin will look and feel. This is because fruits and vegetables are abundant in phytonutrients that fuel the cells of the body with more energy to support vital function, including the turnover of skin cells.
- Drink more water and herbal tea than coffee and soda. Both water and herbal teas have a detoxifying effect on the body. Water also replenishes hydration that so many are lacking. When the body is dehydrated, no amount of topical lotion can support healthy skin.
- Sleep well. Sleep is vital to ongoing health, and even to the skin. When we sleep, cellular renewal occurs. Whether your ideal is 5 hours or 9, stick to a schedule that allows you to wake up looking and feeling refreshed.
Keep it Vital
Skin care is necessary, and this goes beyond just washing your face in the shower. If the ski goes too long without advanced exfoliation, no skin care product will penetrate the surface of cellular buildup that has formed. An occasional chemical peel or microdermabrasion treatment at a reputable medical spa is an affordable and comfortable way to ensure your skin is absorbing vital ingredients from skincare products.
Our team of nurses and physicians is happy to assist you with dermatologic concerns. Contact us at 610-594-6660.
It’s Cooling Down, but You Still Need that Sunscreen!
Skin care is something that is discussed on a regular basis. Largely, it is the desire that men and women have to age well that gets all the attention. We want to know which solutions will help slow the introduction of lines and wrinkles to the skin, and how to treat problems such as sun spots and laxity. There is a single product that should not be overlooked when the goal is to support healthy skin: sunscreen.
\Sunscreen may be one of the absolute best products for skin of all ages. Proper use inhibits the reactivity of skin cells to UV light. Without this protection, cellular health and activity are diminished. Collagen, which we need for suppleness and tone, degrades relatively quickly when too much UV exposure occurs. In addition to fostering smooth skin by protecting against collagen depletion, a good sunscreen product reduces the risk of skin cancer, and that is undoubtedly a winning situation.
Critical Mistakes Many People Make
Sunscreen only works if you work it. This is where a lot of people go wrong. The first mistake that is commonly made is simply going without any sunscreen at all. With so many products available today, it is easy to find a sunscreen that feels good on your skin, even under makeup. The second mistake is not wearing enough sunscreen. When you’re outdoors, it is necessary to reapply product every few hours and to apply sufficient amounts of sunscreen for true protection. At least a nickel-size drop is needed for each area of the body. A final mistake is one that you may be making right now, and that is to stop wearing sunscreen after the heat of summer has faded.
Ultraviolet light is strong any time of year, even when the sun moves slightly farther away from the earth. The rays of light that shine down on us reflect off of common surfaces, including glass, water, and even snow. This exacerbates the effects of that light, which can be just as damaging as a day spent on the beach or a few minutes spent in a tanning bed. Clouds are not considered coverage, either. Even on a cloudy day, about80% of UV light streams through the atmosphere, and that is enough to put you at risk of premature aging and skin cancer.
When you know how to care for skin, you are better equipped to enjoy youthfulness and better health. We are happy to consult with you about sunscreen during a professional skin cancer screening. To schedule your visit, call 610-594-6660.
Let’s Talk about that Rash
Summertime is a great time to get outdoors. Doing so, though, may send you straight into an inadvertent encounter with poison ivy. This plant, as well as its cousins, sumac and poison oak, pack quite the punch when it comes to the skin. Many people have heard of the intensely itchy rash attributed to one of these plants, but that doesn’t mean we all know how to keep ourselves safe. In fact, there may be a few things that you don’t know about them.
Poison ivy may be brought to you by your pet. This is important to know in case you develop a rash days, or weeks, after that nice, long hike. Pets are not affected by the resin in poison ivy the way their owners are. A quick jaunt through the bushes, or brush with the leaves of a poison ivy plant, will do little to Fido – except maybe leave him with rash-causing resin on his fur for you to touch at a later time.
- Die-off doesn’t mean dormant. During the winter months, the leaves of the poison ivy plant may dwindle. However, the resin that causes problems is also contained in the stems and even the roots of the plant. Any contact during any time of year could mean a nasty rash.
- Heat-up could mean flare-up. Rashes don’t tend to like heat. A hot shower or what is supposed to be a relaxing evening in the hot tub could significantly worsen the itch from poison ivy. Until the rash is gone, it’s best to bathe in cooler water. Ice packs have even been known to settle the itch.
- You can’t “catch” poison ivy. Once the rash of poison ivy develops, one may think that they cannot be touched, or should not touch a loved one who has the rash. This is true, but only because you don’t want to spread germs through the potentially open skin, not because the rash is contagious. Poison ivy rash occurs only when contact is made with the resin of the plant.
Don’t let poison ivy interfere with your summertime fun. Learn what to look for and remember to shower after hikes or walks in wilder places. Your skin will thank you!
What Facial Redness could be Telling You
Facial redness can be a disturbing symptom, especially if you are unsure what may be causing the problem, or what to do about it. If you struggle to keep the skin on your cheeks from flushing easily, you may be one of the millions of Americans who has rosacea.
Rosacea is a dermatologic condition that may not develop until adulthood. The inflammation typically flares and subsides under certain conditions. In some cases, mild redness seems to be persistent across the nose and cheeks. Some patients also develop small bumps that resemble acne. Still others develop symptoms in the eyes, including dryness and itching. Because no two patients are the same, the combination and severity of rosacea symptoms can vary widely. This only perpetuates the confusion about what could be causing facial redness.
Why does rosacea occur?
Science has not yet uncovered exactly why some people develop rosacea and why others do not. It has been suggested that genetics may predispose a person to this condition, and that outside triggers such as spicy food and hot or cold weather exacerbate existing inflammation.
Might you have rosacea?
Some of the common symptoms that indicate rosacea include:
- Rosy, pink skin on the cheeks and nose that does not go away, but occasionally worsens.
- Visible blood vessels across the nose and cheeks.
- Skin becomes flushed after consuming warm beverages, alcohol, or spicy food.
- Weather changes cause skin to become flushed.
- Small pimples or pink bumps appear on the chin, cheeks, and nose.
- The texture of the skin on the nose changes.
The reason it is important to determine if you have rosacea is because this enables you to obtain treatment that helps you manage the redness that may cause self-consciousness. In some cases, topical medicine may be prescribed to treat bumps and pimples. Oral medication such as doxycycline antibiotic may be necessary if bumps are difficult to control. Finally, laser therapies may be beneficial for patients needing rosacea management.
Because rosacea is a chronic skin condition, the only treatment approach is to manage symptoms. We can help you do this. To learn more about how to treat rosacea, call our Pennsylvania practice at 610.594.6660. We have offices in Coatesville, Kennett Square, and Exton to serve you.