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'skin' posts

When a mole is more than a mole

As a general surgeon, I am often asked to evaluate a patient with an abnormal mole (pigmented nevus) or one that has been biopsied, revealing a premalignant or malignant growth.  It is not uncommon for the patient to tell me they either were totally unaware of the lesion or dismissed changes in the lesion over time. 

All skin cancers are not alike, and melanoma, a malignant cancer of pigmented skin cells (melanocytes), is by far the most dangerous of the group, accounting for over 75% of skin cancer deaths in the United States.  This amounts to about 48,000 melanoma related deaths world wide per year. 

Found early, when the lesion is superficial and small, cure rates are high, but as the cancer progresses, it invades deeper into the skin, and becomes far more likely to spread far from where it started.  It is for this reason that  ...

How to deal with minor breakouts or major acne

Most of us experience acne at some point in our lives. It is most common in adolescents and young adults, but various forms can affect people well into adulthood. Knowing what you can treat with over the counter products and when to see a physician is the first step to improving acne.

The most common form of acne is comedonal acne and is characterized by whiteheads and blackheads. The next most common is inflammatory acne where deeper, pinker bumps appear on the skin. Milder cases of both comedonal and inflammatory acne can often times respond to over the counter (OTC) treatment with salicylic acid cleansers and topical benzoyl peroxide products. If you try OTC treatment for 6-8 weeks and see good benefit, you can avoid a trip to the doctor and keep using the OTC products.

More severe comedonal or inflammatory acne will commonly not respond to OTC treatment or get limited benefit. If a 6-8 week treatment trial with OTC products doesn’t control your acne, it’s time to see a doctor. There are...

Eczema season

"It's eczema season" is an often repeated phrase for me lately.

This time of year, I always find myself seeing more patients with eczema. The common presenting complaint is a persistent rash that itches so much that it disturbs sleep. The dry, itchy patches of skin are commonly seen on the back, sides of the torso, arms and legs, but can happen almost anywhere. People with a history of allergies, asthma, or childhood eczema are even more likely to develop eczema in the fall or winter.

There are a number of contributing factors to the increased incidence of eczema in the winter:

Furnaces run more, drying out the air inside homes and buildings. We wear more clothing, increasing the friction on our skin. Hot water feels better, so we tend to spend more time in the shower or bath.

That last one sounds counter-intuitive, but ...

Nails: A window to your health

Your fingernails and toenails are a window into your overall health. Many health conditions, such as heart and lung disease, are very visible in the nails. Bands or lines in multiple fingernails, as well as changes in color, can also indicate illness. Nails can even tell you how long you’ve been ill since fingernails need six months to grow, and toenails a whole year.

When was the last time you looked at your nails?

Did you know:

  • Nail pitting: Small depressions on the surface of the nail; is common in people with psoriasis
  • Clubbing: Enlarged fingertips with nails curving around the fingertips may indicate lung, liver, heart or inflammatory bowel disease, or AIDS
  • Spooning: Scoop-shaped nails that curve up may be a sign of anemia
  • Banding...

Summer, sun, and why you still need sunscreen in Seattle

Summer is almost here, so this is a good time to talk about sunscreens.

We all get excited when the sun comes out in our area, but it is always important to remember that everyone should avoid direct sun exposure when it is the harshest -between 10am and 4pm during the summer months,. Everyone should wear sunscreen, hats and covered clothing when exposed to the sun. Cloudy days do not offer too much protection as the UV rays can penetrate through the clouds and affect the skin the same way. Children and adolescents in particular should avoid tanning beds.

What you should know about different types of sunscreen:

How to feel good in your skin

Despite skin being the largest human organ, many people don’t take the necessary steps to properly take care of it.

As the body ages, the skin’s elastin and collagen break down, making it more difficult for old skin cells to be replaced with new ones. The body’s oil production also slows as the years go by. These combined effects cause skin to appear duller, dryer and more wrinkled.

While around 50 percent of our skin condition depends on genetics, the other 50 percent relies on how well we treat our skin. Follow these tips to practice basic skin care in your younger years:

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