It’s important to take proper care of your skin and be mindful of any changes. While many skin conditions are bothersome, others may be more serious and require urgent medical attention. At Illuminate, we can help you to address some of these skin conditions with the latest advancements in medical skin treatments offered in our San Jose and Palo Alto offices.
Let’s particularly turn our attention to five major skin diseases and disorders.
Skin cancer is the malignant growth of dermal cells.
It can range in severity from an easily treated lesion to a life-threatening condition. Early and accurate diagnosis determines the proper course of treatment. See your doctor immediately if you see changes in the size, shape, borders, or texture of any skin lesion. What you may have assumed was a harmless wart or mole could be something more concerning. Doctors rate cancer's advancement using the Roman numerals I through IV. Stage I cancer is confined to the small area in which it began. Stage IV indicates the cancer has spread to other body areas. To arrive at a diagnosis, your physician will first simply take a look at your lesion. In many cases, that’s sufficient to rule out cancer. But if there is even the slightest suspicion that the lesion could be malignant, your doctor will perform a skin biopsy, which simply means removing a sample of the suspicious skin. The biopsied tissue is then sent to a lab for analysis. Those lab tests will determine if you have skin cancer and, if so, what type of skin cancer you have. Superficial skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma rarely spread. So if a biopsy excision removed the entire lesion, no further treatment may be required. But if the diagnosis is large squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, or melanoma, your doctor will order further tests to determine the extent of the cancer and develop a treatment strategy. Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, treatment options include:
More advanced cancers may require chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and biological therapy, which uses your body’s immune system to combat cancer cells. In all cases, early and accurate diagnosis optimizes outcomes.
Psoriasis is a disease that causes red, scaly, and itchy skin patches. It’s a long-term condition that at present has no cure. While psoriasis lesions can erupt almost anywhere on the body, they most commonly appear on the scalp, knees, elbows, and trunk. Patients may also have cracked skin, pitted or ridged nails, and swollen and stiff joints. The disease waxes and wanes, with flare-ups mixed with periods of remission. There are several types of psoriasis, including psoriatic arthritis, a form that affects the joints. Symptoms can be mild to severe and can cause progressive and, in some cases, permanent joint damage.
While the exact connection is unclear, psoriasis is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that causes the skin to regenerate at an accelerated rate. Genetics and some environmental factors may also play a role. It’s important to remember that psoriasis is not contagious. Flare-ups have been associated with infections, weather changes, stress, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and some medications. Studies have indicated psoriasis may elevate your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, eye conditions including conjunctivitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Treatment strategies aim to slow the growth of affected skin cells and to remove scales. Prescriptions candidly tend to be “hit and miss” until an effective regimen is identified, but patient safety is always of paramount importance. Treatment options include:
Light therapy, in which the skin is exposed to controlled amounts of either natural or artificial light, has, in some cases, been effective in relieving symptoms of moderate to severe psoriasis.
Eczema refers to a collection of skin diseases that cause skin patches to become inflamed, itchy, and rough. Eczema treatment aims to:
Eczema is similar to psoriasis in that it is believed to be caused by autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors, that it cycles through active and remissive periods, and that it is not contagious. Eczema, while it can develop at any age, disproportionately affects children of all ethnicities. But it is statistically more likely to impact people of color. Foods such as nuts and dairy can trigger episodes of eczema. Medical treatment options are similar to those used to combat psoriasis.
There is no specific test to diagnose rosacea, a condition that produces facial flushing along with acne-like bumps. Redness may appear on your cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. Broken blood vessels may show through your skin, and approximately half of rosacea patients experience eye pain or redness. Additional symptoms often include:
As with psoriasis and eczema, rosacea tends to come and go. But if left untreated, rosacea symptoms often worsen and can become permanent. Researchers don’t know exactly what causes rosacea. But the condition often runs in families, so genetics appear to play a role. Sun damage, a digestive hormone called gastrin, and even the tiny insects called mites that live on your skin may also trigger flare-ups. Your doctor can prescribe medications that help control rosacea. Additionally, your doctor may recommend:
Hyperpigmentation is a generic term for a variety of conditions that generate dark patches of skin. Hyperpigmentation results from an excess of melanin, the natural pigment that gives your skin its color. While hyperpigmentation is neither life-threatening nor contagious, it can be mentally and emotionally stressful. Hyperpigmentation can be caused by:
Blue light from screens and electronic devices may also contribute. Once hyperpigmentation is diagnosed, treatment seeks to decrease your production of pigment and reduce or remove areas of discolored skin. There are a variety of treatment options that may be used singularly or in combination with others.
It is especially important that people with any kind of hyperpigmentation be diligent in their use of sun protection.
Drs. David Boudreault and Brittany Leader are nationally recognized experts on scientifically based and medically approved skin health strategies and treatment options. They invite you to schedule a consultation for medical skin treatments in San Jose or Palo Alto.
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At Illuminate we’re with you during every step of your journey toward greater self-confidence. Schedule a consultation with us today and let Illuminate’s expert team listen to your concerns and guide you through treatments and procedures to help you reach your individual goals. We look forward to seeing you and celebrating your renewed appearance and realized potential.