The Not-so-Fun Side of Summer: Insect Bites and Poisonous Plants
Are You Ready for Warm Weather?
The Tanning Phenomenon
Breaking Down Vitamin A
Wintertime Woes: Caring for Psoriasis, Eczema and Irritated Skin
May is Melanoma Awareness Month - Protect Your Skin
Understanding Chemical Peels of Today
Skin Cancer Awareness: What You Should Know
Signs of Sun Damage and How to Avoid It
Renew Dermatology Combines Thermage and Fraxel Treatments for Dramatic Results
Recognizing Suspicious Moles
Many patients worry about their moles, particularly after summertime sun exposure. Healthy moles come in a variety of sizes and colors, and may be flat or raised. However, if you are worried about a particular mole, here are some tips for evaluating the condition of your moles so you know when to call the dermatologist.
Asymmetry. One half of a normal mole mirrors the other and would neatly overlap the other if the mole were folded over.
Border. A healthy mole has a smooth, clear border.
Color. Healthy moles tend to be a solid color. They do not fade out towards the edges or have a very dark area in the middle of lighter brown coloring.
Diameter. Any mole that is larger than a pencil eraser should be monitored for growth. If you determine that the mole is growing, call your dermatologist.
Evolution. Any mole or skin lesion that changes noticeably over time, either growing larger or changing shape, should be checked.
In addition to the above factors, you are at higher risk if you have a history of skin cancer, a fair complexion, or a history of sunburns and excessive sun exposure. You may also ask yourself, is the lesion itching, bleeding, or scaling and peeling? Pre-cancerous lesions called actinic keratoses often show up as red, rough spots in sun exposed areas. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas do not typically spread unless they remain untreated for months or years, and they are usually fully cured when treated early. A family history of melanoma also puts you into a higher risk category. Unlike basal and squamous cell carcinomas, melanoma will metastasize and spread aggressively.
The best thing you can do to reduce your risk of skin cancer, or skin cancer recurrence, is to stay out of the sun. Do not tan outside or in tanning beds. We recommend a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide for daily use. Our office has several choices appropriate for different skin types. Ask for a recommendation on your next visit.
Along with summer beach trips and barbeques come bug bites and rashes. While most of these are only a minor irritation, there are times when you should see a dermatologist for care. Watch for signs of infection - swelling, red, hot, painful skin, fever, puss - and see your doctor if you are concerned about infection. Do NOT scratch the area, as scratching can cause infection. Use over the counter medications to relieve itching, and most bites and small rashes will heal themselves within days.