Posts for: May, 2021
By Priya Thakker, MD
May 24, 2021
Category: Skin Care
When was the last time you saw a dermatologist? We’re pretty sure most people don’t know or perhaps have never stepped foot inside a dermatologist’s office; however, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, and more than two people die every hour in the US from skin cancer. This is why everyone needs to visit their dermatologist for regular skin exams and skin cancer screenings.
What should I expect from a skin cancer screening?
There is nothing uncomfortable, painful, or invasive about a skin cancer screening. This can be a relief to know and may even make someone more likely to come in for the screening they need. A skin cancer screening involves a simple, non-invasive visual examination that is performed by a qualified dermatologist. Your skin doctor will examine all growths, moles, and birthmarks to check for any changes in shape, color, size, or texture that could be warning signs of cancer.
Just as with any health screening, a skin cancer screening can help your dermatologist detect skin cancer during the very early stages when it’s highly treatable. If your dermatologist does detect a suspicious growth, they may recommend a biopsy. A biopsy simply means that your dermatologist will remove a small amount of tissue from the area to test for cancer cells.
Who should get a skin cancer screening?
Everyone can benefit from a skin cancer screening; however, certain risk factors can increase your odds of developing skin cancer over your lifetime. It’s important to know your risk level so you can talk with your dermatologist about how often you should come in for screenings. Those at increased risk may need to come in more than once a year. These risk factors include,
- Being fair-skinned
- Having blonde or red hair
- Light eyes
- Skin that burns or freckles easily
- A history of sunburns
- Family history of skin cancer
- Extensive sun exposure (e.g. working outdoors)
If it’s been more than a year since your last skin cancer screening you must schedule your exam with a dermatologist as soon as possible. While wearing sunscreen and protecting your skin from the sun can certainly help, it’s still necessary to see a dermatologist at least once a year.
From coming in contact with poison ivy to dealing with a high dose of stress, there are many reasons a rash might appear. Most of the time, a rash will go away on its own without treatment; however, it’s also important to recognize when a rash may warrant turning to a dermatologist for treatment.
What causes rashes?
There are so many reasons why a rash may surface. Rashes may be the result of a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection, or it could be caused by an allergy. Common causes of a rash include,
- Atopic or contact dermatitis
- Pityriasis rosea
- Insect bites and stings
- Poison ivy, oak, or sumac
- Diaper rash
- Lichen planus
- Allergy to a drug/medication
How do I treat a rash?
Most rashes are mild, self-limiting, and can be treated on your own without having to turn to a doctor. Some ways to ease a rash and promote faster healing is by,
- Using only gentle cleansers and soaps that do not contain harsh chemicals or fragrances
- Avoiding hot water and only using lukewarm or cold water
- Being gentle when cleansing, bathing, and handling the skin
- Not covering the rash (let it breathe)
- Using only unscented products
- Applying calamine lotion to control itching
- Using hydrocortisone cream to reduce itchiness, swelling, and redness
- Not scratching the rash, as this can lead to an infection
When should I see a dermatologist about my rash?
It’s important to recognize when a rash probably requires medical attention. You should schedule an appointment with your dermatologist if,
- The rash is widespread and takes over most of your body (this could be a sign of an allergic reaction, which requires immediate attention)
- The rash is spreading quickly and suddenly
- Your rash is accompanied by a fever (this is often a sign of serious infection)
- The rash is painful or contains blisters
- There are signs of infection such as oozing, crusting, or skin that’s warm to the touch
Dealing with a rash that is painful or causing your concern? If in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your dermatologist. We can discuss your symptoms over the phone and determine whether you should come in for a consultation.