What is the best treatment for psoriasis and is it permanent?

A) Psoriasis is a complex autoimmune condition in which the skin’s immune system attacks your own skin and sometimes your joints, and can cause unsightly red, flaky rashes and arthritis. It can last months to years and then suddenly resolve on its own, but we don’t really have any medication to “cure” it. Depending on the severity of the areas on your torso, a prescription cream may be enough to manage the areas, or you may need other more involved treatments such as phototherapy or immunotherapy.

Can the skin on my face be returned to an even color?

A) It’s fairly common to develop dark spots on your face when working outdoors a lot, and it is possible to improve the spots. They may be caused by several factors including marks left over from acne blemishes, sun spots known as lentigoes, or a type of dark pigmentation called melasma. Each of these has different treatment options, and some are easier to manage than others. In addition to starting to wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every single day, even in the winter, I recommend you might investigate some prescription creams or possibly a treatment called IPL, which is also called a photofacial.

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Skin Cancer Awareness Month and Melanoma Monday May 6, 2013

Every year, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. The first Monday in May is Melanoma Monday. It’s a good month for talking about and focusing on skin cancer, because it’s often the first month we start to really think about the weather change and being outdoors, and of course Memorial Day weekend is the kickoff of summer for most of us.
Despite the public’s increasing awareness of the importance of preventing sunburn, using sunscreen, sunglasses, protective clothing, and the dangers of skin cancer, melanoma rates in kids and teens are still on the rise. We need to do better. Research, education, and prevention are all important factors in the fight. I will be wearing orange, the official color of Melanoma Monday, to help trigger conversations with my patients on this important day. I will direct them to websites with great educational resources like AAD.org and skincancer.org, the websites of the American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Let’s focus on two goals this month: first, getting annual skin cancer screening exams from a board-certified dermatologist. And second, getting a better understanding of sunscreen labels and how sunscreen really works.

Annual skin checks (no machine “scan”, just a trained physician who specializes in skin disease looking you over scalp to toes) are key to early detection, treatment, and cure of all three types of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanomas can all be caught early and cured in most cases. I’ll talk more about each of these in future posts.

2013 marks the year the new sunscreen labeling rules have been finalized by the FDA after a long wait. Their aim is to simplify and clarify. More about this in a future post, too, but the basic gist is that we should look for sunscreens that say “broad-spectrum” on the label and have an SPF of at least 30 for daily use, and up to 50 or higher for time that will be spent in direct sun like playing sports or going to the beach. Apply the first coat 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every 2 hours. Apply two layers, because we all tend to underapply, and are not getting the label’s level of protection automatically.

Never seek sun for the purpose of getting “color”. Use self-tanning lotions and always wear sunscreen instead. Avoid extended mid-day unprotected sun exposure. Wear hats and sunglasses. And see your dermatologist for the once-over, once a year.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re thinking of our moms’ health. All mothers young and old should get annual skin cancer screenings, but some who have never had one aren’t really sure what it means. It can sound a little intimidating, but the reality is that it couldn’t be more simple. It does not mean being scanned in any kind of machine.

It means your dermatologist (me) has you change into a gown (leaving your underwear on), and checks your skin from scalp to toes. Even though your primary care doctor and loved ones probably do keep an eye on you, they are likely not checking the areas that are also hardest for you to see: scalp, behind your ears, between your toes. I look not only for unusually dark or irregular or changing brown moles, but also new spots, red patches, flaky sores that don’t heal normally, or unusual flat scar-like areas that didn’t start with a known injury. If we find a suspicious spot, we may decide together to do a painless small skin test called a biopsy, so we can get a small piece of skin to send to the lab to be checked under the microscope. Most likely, everything will be fine and no more treatment needs to be done. With all types of skin cancer, catching it early means a likely 100% chance of cure.

If the pathologist does find skin cancer, it’s often treatable with a cream or small, local skin excision. Come in for your skin cancer screening so we can make sure everything is ok for your and your family’s peace of mind.

Insurance covers this visit like a normal office visit. Call us to schedule at 212-488-5599.

Click on the image below to view our Skin Cancer infographic.