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A Clinic of North Idaho Dermatology

Skin Conditions

Treatment For Other Diseases Of The Skin

The health of your skin is of utmost importance to us at Liberty Lake Family Dermatology. Whatever your skin condition, you will find caring professionals who have the combination of experience, knowledge and empathy to treat not just your skin condition, but to treat you, the patient.

Among the many skin conditions that you may receive treatment for include the following:

Acne

Acne is the most common skin problem that dermatologists see and include pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads which can form anyone on the face body. Acne forms when sebum, an oily substance in hair follicles, becomes thick and stick, and combines with dead skin cells. This combination plugs up your hair follicles and pores and creates a breathing ground for bacteria, which leads to the formation of acne. While some acne starts of small and unnoticeable, it can become bigger, forming lumps, nodules, and even cysts that are best handled by a dermatologist.

There are a number of factors that can affect whether or not you get acne and how sever it may be. It may form as a hereditary condition due to large pores or oily skin, puberty in teenagers is another factor than can lead to acne, as can a woman’s menstrual cycle. Other factors that can lead to acne include emotional stress, grease in cosmetics, and even some medicines.

 

Here are three common myths about acne, debunked:

Myth #1: Chocolate, fried foods, nuts, and soda can cause acne.

While certain foods and beverages can appear to make acne worse, there is no scientific evidence that supports the idea that they can actually cause acne. Of course, these things are still best in moderation!

Myth #2: Acne is contagious.

While acne is formed through a bacterial infection, it is not something that is contagious, otherwise more people would be suffering from it.

Myth #3: Dirty skin can cause acne.

Much to popular belief, having dirty skin does not make you more likely to have acne. In fact, cleaning your skin too aggressively can worsen your acne. So, while it is important to clean your skin, do so in moderation!

 

Fortunately, we know a lot more about treating acne than we did just a generation ago. Treatment falls into two categories, the first of which might be called personal hygiene. Keeping your skin free of excess oil will go a long way toward minimizing your acne, so use oil-free cosmetics and sunscreens. Gently wash the affected areas of your skin twice a day with mild soap and warm water. The key word here is gently. Also, never squeeze pimples or blackheads; this can lead to longer lasting pimples. Avoid use of astringents on your face, which can strip your skin of its natural moisture. There are also very effective aesthetic peels and treatments that can greatly improve the look of skin with acne and aid in the healing process.

The second category is medical treatment, which includes regimens of medications that have been developed over the last few decades to treat acne. Examples of these include tetracycline, Benzamycin, and Accutane, all of which approach the management and treatment of acne in different ways.

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Actinic Keratosis (AK)

Luckily, our understanding of acne has come a long way. Now, there are two main categories of treatment: personal hygiene and medical treatment. One of the easiest way to help manage acne is to avoid adding excess oils to your skin; so, washing your face with a mile soap twice a day, using oil-free makeup, and always be gentle in how you treat the skin. It is also important to never try squeezing pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads yourself, as this can make the worse, slow the healing, and even lead to infections.

With medical treatment of acne, it includes exactly what you likely imagine: medicine. There are a number of different medications that can be used to treat acne, depending on the level of severity. Some examples of available medications include tetracycline, Benzamycin, and Accutane. While they all have the same goals of acne treatment, they are reached in different ways.

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Androgenic Alopecia (Common Baldness)

This type of alopecia is a very common genetic disorder, that affects a number of different people. Over time, the hair becomes thinner, shorter, and generally more wispy before falling out entirely. For men, this usually results in a receding hairline, while for woman it appears as thinning all over the scalp.

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Atopic Dermatitis

Sometimes referred to as eczematous dermatitis, it is a type of eczema characterized by an intense and chronic itching of the skin. With atopic dermatitis, this intense itching leads to the formation of rashes, which help in terms of diagnosis. Usually, atopic dermatitis is first diagnosed during infancy,  but can continue through adulthood. While it is a chronic disease, sometimes it will appear to get better for a period of time, before returning once again. Various social, environmental, and even biological factors can also play a role in the severity of flare-ups.

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Basal Cell Carcinoma

BBC is the most c common form of skin cancer and cancer overall. It is caused by chronic exposure to sunlight, like sunburns and tanning, and develops in the areas of the body most frequently exposed to sunlight. This means the face, ears, neck, back, shoulders and even your scalp can develop BBC with repeated exposure. That is not to say a tumor cannot develop in an unexposed area; while it is rare, it does occasionally happen. Another thing to keep in mind is that fair skinned people, blondes, redheads, and those with blue, green, or gray eyes are at a higher risk for developing BBC.

Here are 5 warning signs that may signify BBC:

If you notice any of these warning signs, make an appointment with us immediately. There are a number of methods that can be used to treat BBC, including topical medications such as scraping the affected skin with a curette, tumor desiccation with an electrocautery needle, excision and Mohs surgeries, cryotherapy, and a few others.

While BBC is slow-forming and rarely metastasizes, it is crucial that it does not go ignored. During so can lead to bigger and more serious skin problems, which nobody wants to go through.

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Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis refers to an inflammation of the skin when it is exposed to a certain antigen or irritant. It causes discomfort and irritation in sufferers, and can even be a source of embarrassment. What causes contact dermatitis varies person-to-person and just about anything can cause a flare-up, including jewelry made of nickel, soaps, and even some makeup.

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Cutaneous t-cell lymphoma

Cutaneous t-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a disease that can affect the body’s white blood cells, and there are different types of CTCL. One of the most common types is Mycosis fungoides (MF), and more is known about it than other types of skin lymphoma. MF is a slow-growing typeof lymphoma, which primarily affects the skin and is characterized by a mushroom-like growth of skin tumors. While it generally remains confined to the skin, about 10 percent of cases see it slowly progress to the lymph nodes and internal organs.

Another related, but more aggressive form of CTCL is Sézary Syndrome, and it has a widespread affect on the skin and can lead to malignant lymphocytes in the blood, gastrointestinal system, and even the liver. This syndrome is characterized by extensive patches of red skin rashes and can even cause the loss of the most exterior layers of skin.

The warning signs for CTCL include dry skin, red rashes, and itchiness that can be pretty severe in the affected area. In some cases, you may also notice dark patches of skin that are not normal for you. These patches of irritated skin may also have little bumps called plaques scattered along the surface, and they may grow bigger and become tumors as time goes on. If you are worried you may have CTCL in some form, do not hesitate to set up an appointment with a medical professional.

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Eczema

Eczema, or dermatitis, is a skin condition that can affect people of all ages, from infancy to adulthood, and can also vary in severity. With more mild cases of eczema, the skin may just become dry, hot, and itchy. But, in more severe cases, the affected skin can become broken, raw, and bloody. While eczema can look unpleasant, it is nothing contagious and can be cared for fairly easily, through medications, creams, and lifestyle changes. It can occur on any part of the body, though it is most commonly seen not he face, neck, the insides of the elbows, the knees, and even the ankles.

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Impetigo

Impetigo is a contagious infection of the skin that causes blisters and sores to form on the hands and face. It is a very common infection of the skin that can affect children, particularly during the summer. Children are more susceptible to it if they already have irritated skin due to skin conditions such like eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, and even different skin allergies. 

There are two different types of bacterias which can cause impetigo: streptococcus and staphylococcus aureus. Usually, impetigo occurs when an existing sore or rash gets irritated from repetitive scratching; so something like poison ivy can become infected with impetigo, if not cared for properly. Luckily, impetigo can be treated successfully with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.

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Lichen Planus

Lichen Planus is an inflammatory disease of the skin that can affect the skin, mouth, and even the genital regions. While it tends to affect both middle-aged men and women the same when it comes to the skin, the oral form is much more common in women. What causes LP is still unclear, though there are some dermatologists that feel that LP should be considered a sort of autoimmune disease, a type of disease where the white blood cells in the body—which are supposed to attack and destroy germs—begin attacking normal parts of the skin.

Sometimes, LP-like rashes can happen due to an allergic reaction to certain medications, a high blood pressure, heart disease, and even arthritis. In some cases, someone who is diagnosed with LP may also test positive for hepatitis C, something the dermatologist will test for. While eliminating potential factors can help ease the condition, there is no real cure for LP. But if managed correctly, the appearance and itchiness can be improved a great deal. To treat LP, dermatologist usually prescribes topical corticosteroid creams and ointments, anti-inflammatory drugs or oral antihistamines. For more severe cases of LP, the doctor may try using stronger cortisone medication or even an ultraviolet light treatment, called PUVA for short.

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Melanoma

More than likely, you have heard about melanoma before. It is considered to be the most dangerous and fatal forms of skin cancer, which forms in the cells that are responsible for making melanin, which is where skin color comes from. But, the melanin in the skin also helps to form a protective barrier, keeping the deeper skin layers safe from the sun’s harmful UV-rays. When there is too much exposure to these UV-rays, melanocytes can begin growing abnormally, becoming cancerous, which is how melanoma forms.

While, like with many skin conditions, melanoma can form virtually anywhere, there are areas that are more commonly affected. For men, it is usually above the waist while for women, it is usually on their lower legs. Although it is the worse form of cancer to get, if caught early on and treated by an experienced doctor, the recovery rate is fairly high. On the other hand, if the melanoma begins to spread to other parts of the body, it will become harder to treat.

If you have a family history of this form of cancer, you are at a higher risk of developing it yourself. Similarly, if you ever had a blistering sunburn as a child or teenager, if you spend a lot of time in the sun with little to no skin protection, have fair eyes and skin, or if you have freckles, you also are at an increased risk.

Your dermatologist will perform a biopsy if they suspect you may have melanoma. This will allow them to look at the sample of diseased cells under a microscope, allowing for a more accurate diagnosis. If the biopsy comes back positive, they will then discuss the treatment options available. When it is caught early enough, surgical removal of the melanoma is usually enough and no further treatment will be necessary. If it has already reached later stages, then more serious treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, may be required. However, should the melanoma spread further through the body or to the organs, there is, unfortunately, no cure.

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Morphea (localized scleroderma)

Morphea, also sometimes called localized scleroderma, is a form of skin disease, characterized by excessive collagen deposits, which can cause a thickening of the skin. It begins with patches of skin that are yellowish or ivory-colored, rigid, and dry. Over time, the marks can become hard, oval-shaped, and slightly depressed into the skin, with a white or yellowish center and a pink or purple halo.

It is a condition that is usually benign, and tends to affect women more than men. The marks tend to appear on the trunk of the body, though they can appear anywhere, and about 75 percent of the time it only affects the skin or underlying muscles and joints.

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Moles (Nevi)

Moles are an extremely common type of skin growth, that are usually benign. While they can appear at any age, changing throughout childhood and pregnancy, they usually appear by the 20-years-of-age. Moles may appear on any part of the body and can also vary in shape and size, though they all generally begin is a flat brown spot, that becomes larger and more elevated over time. They tend to be darker because it is made of melanocytes, the type of skin cells responsible for producing the dark pigment in the skin called melanin. Although they tend to be benign, there is a risk of a mole developing melanoma, one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer, especially if you have had severe sunburns as a child.

To help patients identify problematic moles, dermatologists have come up with a method they call “ABCD.” A is for asymmetry, as the mole should be the same on both sides. B is for border, edges should not be ragged or blurred looking. C is for color, you want to watch for moles that are not a single, uniform color. But, you also want to look for dashes of colors like red, white, or blue. D is for diameter; you want to pay close attention to any moles that are bigger than 6mm in size. IF any of these warning signs are present, do not wait to call your dermatologist.

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Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis)

Onychomycosis is a type of fungal infection that can affect the fingernails and toenails, causing them to thicken, split, and become discolored and disfigured. While, at first, it may appear as nothing more than a cosmetic problem, if left untreated, toenails that are infected with onychomycosis can become so thick that they begin to press uncomfortably against shoes, causing pressure, irritation, and pain. When the infection happens on the fingernails, it can also be a source of psychological, social, and other problems. Fortunately, it is easy to treat; the doctor may prescribe topical or oral medications. In some cases, they may also recommend surgery to help remedy the problem.

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Warts (Papillomavirus)

Another fairly common skin infection people may get includes Papillomavirus, or warts, which usually appear on the hands and feet. While warts can be flat, they are usually bumpy, dry, and rough to the touch. Warts can appear at any age; for the children, they tend to disappear on their own, although that is not the case when adults get warts.

If a wart causes any sort of pain or discomfort, then it should be removed, which is usually done by applying special topical medications, cryotherapy (freezing the wart), burning, or by cutting it off.

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Psoriasis

Another common chronic skin disease—which affects one in 50 people—is psoriasis, a disease that is characterized by thick and red patches of skin, covered in scaly white discolorations, called plaques. These outbreaks can occur anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the scalp, knees, elbows and be small or large in size. In some cases, the disease can even have an effect on the joints.

Unfortunately, psoriasis is not curable, but with the right type of treatment—from medicines to UV light treatments—it can be well managed.

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Rosacea

Rosacea is one of the more misunderstood skin disorders and usually appears on a person's face as red and acne-like. When rosacea is more severe, the redness can become more prominent and little bumps may also begin to form due to the excessive tissue. The eyes can also become irritated, bloodshot, and watery due to the skin irritation.

Like with most of these skin conditions, there is no cure for rosacea. But, there are a number of highly effective treatments that can help to control and manage the condition. Usually, treatment starts with oral antibiotics and topical treatments. In some cases, pulse light or laser treatments are also used to try and get it under control.

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Scabies

Scabies is an infestation of the skin caused by tiny mites called Sarcoptes scabei. It is a contagious skin problem, which can be spread more quickly in places where skin-to-skin contact is more common, such as hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. But, even prolonged exposure to fabrics touched by someone infected with scabies can cause the problem to spread.

You can identify scabies through pimple-looking irritations, burrows or skin rashes. Scabies is usually found in the webbing between the fingers, areas with skin folds, such as the wrists, elbows, and knees, the male genitals, breasts, and even the shoulder blades. The irritations are usually accompanied by an intense itch during the night, all over the body. If you scratch at the itchy patches of skin, you can create open sores that can easily become infected creating a new problem.

The best way to treat scabies is to use topical agents on the affected area and thoroughly cleaning anything that may have been contaminated. You also want to avoid infecting anyone else or coming into contact with anyone who also has scabies.

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Seborrheic Dermatitis

Another common skin disorder is seborrheic dermatitis, that is also very easy to treat. This disorder is identifiable by the presence of a red, scaly, and itchy rash, that occurs on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyebrows, eyelids, behind the ears, and in the middle of the chest. But, it can also appear in other parts of the body as well.

“Seborrhea” refers to an excessive amount of oiliness in the skin, and seborrheic dermatitis occurs when the skin becomes irritated due to the excess oil. It is treated by changing to milder shampoos and through the use of topical creams and lotions.

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is another serious form of skin cancer and the second most common form of cancer. When left untreated, SCC can end up penetrating the tissue under the skin, which can cause disfigurement and metatisization, which has the potential to be fatal. SCC is generally caused by chronic, repeated exposure to sunlight and therefore affects those areas that are exposed to it the most.

You want to look for warning signs like growths that look like warts, open sores, or scaly patches of skin that seem to cluster and bleed. Other symptoms include elevated and rapidly growing growths that have a central depression. There are a number of ways to treat SCC, including the use of topical medications, scraping off the diseased cells with a special tool called a curette, doing a tumor desiccation using an electrocautery needle, excision and Mohs surgery, radiation, cryotherapy and other forms of treatment.

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Tinea Versicolor

This fungal condition is caused by a skin fungus that is usually present in adults with normal skin. If the skin has enough oil and is warm and moist enough,  then the tinea versicolor will start to grow in little “colonies” on the skin’s surface. Under the right conditions, the fungus will grow more quickly and may even secrete acidic bleach, that can change the color of your skin. They may become a light reddish brown on pale skin, and are usually unable to tan like the rest of the skin, which can make it seem even paler.

This fungus can be seen most commonly on the neck, upper chest, upper arms, and the back. When it comes to the feel, the patches may have a fine, dry scaly feeling. There are not very many symptoms for tinea versicolor, though some people get itchy, especially if they are sweating. As a result, the warmer the weather gets, the worse the infection will be. Fortunately, it can easily be treated with topical or oral medications.

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Hives (Urticaria)

Ucticaria, or hives, are an allergic reaction, appearing like pale red bumps or patches of swollen skin. As mentioned before, hives occur when the body has an allergic reaction to some sort of allergen. While they are usually itchy, they can also produce a burning or stinging, and it can appear anywhere on the body, including the tongue and throat. Individual outbreaks can vary in size, ranging from the size of a small eraser to being as big as an average dinner plate. They form when a chemical called histamine is released and blood plasma begins leaking out of small blood vessels.

It is a condition that can last anywhere from a few hours to several days before finally going away. In some cases, however, hives can be chronic and last for years. Fortunately, when hives fade away, they usually do not leave scars or any evidence that it was ever present. In terms of treating hives, the best way to treat hives is to determine what caused them and remove them, But, antihistamines and steroid therapy are also used to help treat it.

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Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a less common skin disorder that affects the pigmentation of the skin. With vitiligo, the cells responsible for producing skin pigment, known as melanocytes, are destroyed, resulting in patches of lighter skin and white hairs. Unfortunately, the cause of this condition is unknown, and there is not a cure, but it can be treated using topical steroids and sometimes with photochemotherapy.

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