The term “keratosis” can be confusing for patients because, in addition to being a scientific term, it is used to designate three very different conditions. Dermatology Associates of Atlanta will take this opportunity to distinguish the different types of keratosis and give you information on how to treat them.
Actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis or “sun spots”, is a pre-cancerous condition of damaged skin that could eventually lead to a type of skin cancer known as sqaumous cell carcinoma. It is marked by thick, scaly patches of skin that can eventually grow to be bumpy, tough, and wart-like. Actinic keratosis is most common in fair skinned people and happens most frequently in sun-exposed areas of the body like the face, scalp, upper chest, back of the neck, back of the hands, and arms.
While it is not guaranteed that actinic keratosis will become cancerous, it is important to visit your dermatologist to learn about your treatment options. The most common treatment for this condition is cryosurgery, or the use of liquid nitrogen to “freeze” off the damaged skin lesions. Other treatment options include photodynamic therapy, which uses an injection of a photosynthesizer that, combined with the right kind of laser light, destroys damaged tissue. In some cases, dermatologists will use a topical medication to rid a patient of the actinic keratosis.
Keratosis Pilaris (aka Follicular Keratosis)
Keratosis Pilaris, also known as Follicular Keratosis, or more commonly, “chicken skin,” is a follicular, genetic skin condition. It is caused by the build-up of keratin in hair follicles and results in small, red, itchy, bumps. It is most commonly found on the back of the upper arms and on the upper thighs, however it can also be found on the hips, buttock, and cheeks and is more common in patients who have dry skin or eczema.
While Keratosis Pilaris is benign and often disappears with age, it is not curable, and can only be treated for symptoms. Dermatologists often recommend topical ointments and creams containing vitamin A, can prescribe eczema treatments to help with the itching, and encourage patients to stay moisturized with intensely moisturizing lotions.
Seborrheic Keratosis are benign skin growths, comically referred to as “barnacles” that appear on the skin’s surface. These growths can range widely in the way they look – from flat to elevated, from big to small, from light to dark – thus they are often mistaken for other skin conditions like warts, or more seriously melanoma. Because seborrheic keratosis has the potential to be confused with the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma, you should get any suspicious growth checked by a board certified dermatologist.
Unlike most skin growths, Seborrheic Keratosis arises from the top layer of the dermis, often having the appearance of being “barely stuck on there” and can sometimes cause itching.
Seborrheic keratosis is benign, and it is thus not necessary to remove them – although some patients choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons or for relief from the itch. Like actinic keratosis, seborrheic keratosis is often removed using cryosurgery, or liquid nitrogen, or by shaving excision.
How do dermatologists use Evolence®?
As “skin doctors”, dermatologists are experts in all aspects of skin care – including the use of products like Evolence® to keep your skin looking more youthful and refreshed. When injected by a STAR™ trained aesthetic professional like board certified dermatologists Dr. Edmond Griffin, Dr. Scott Karempelis, and Dr. Joseph Payne at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, Evolence® can correct moderate-to-deep wrinkles and folds around the nose, mouth, and forehead caused by advancing age. It can also fill in lost volume, such as sunken cheeks caused by the natural depletion of collagen, or sculpt areas of the face, like the chin and cheeks, for more balance and symmetry. Evolence® can even be used in the correction of acne scarring by filling deep depressions in the face with all-natural collagen. Dermatology Associates of Atlanta uses Evolence® because it causes minimal bruising, swelling, or even redness and is the first of its kind to last through 12 months.
Why is it important for Evolence® to be injected by a board certified dermatologist?
The skin is the largest organ in the body, so it is important that when considering Evolence® injections, you rely on a highly-trained, board certified dermatologist who specializes in the skin and face and understands the appropriate treatments for various skin care types and age groups.
What can patients do in addition to Evolence® to improve the look and feel of their skin?
The physicians at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta believe that every patient should have a comprehensive skin care plan tailored to their individual needs. That is why in addition to Evolence® injections, Dermatology Associates of Atlanta houses the Southeast’s largest laser center, offering over 20 lasers for treatments such as laser skin resurfacing, laser hair removal, and age/sun spot removal. In addition, their in-house medical spa offers over 100 skin care products and a variety of skin treatments that are performed by board certified dermatologists, physician’s assistants, and licensed aestheticians.
Look for Dermatology Associates of Atlanta and Evolence® featured in the November issue of Best Self magazine.
A new clinical drug in the early testing phase shows promise in the fight against skin cancer. The new pill, called PLX4032, targets a specific gene mutation of the BRAF gene – joining a long line of new cancer treatments that target specific genes.
While only the first phase of testing has been done (on a small group of participants), 70 percent of patients with the gene mutation experienced shrinking of their malignant tumors. Giving hope to the researchers for a breakthrough in skin cancer treatment, more testing has been scheduled for late 2009 and early 2010.
The BRAF gene mutation (which the new pill is hoping to treat) contributes to about 60 percent of melanoma cases. As you have read about in our previous blogs, melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer and patient survival rate is significantly smaller when the melanoma spreads. That is why it is so important to gets your moles checked regularly by a board certified dermatologist and to report abnormalities you find on your skin. For melanoma, you should look for dark, either brown or black lesions. Melanoma is usually in the shape of a mole, sore, lump, or growth on the skin so you should be observant of any moles changing size, shape, elevation, or color.
If you find a spot on your skin that is of concern or if you just need to come in for a routine mole check, contact the office of Dermatology Associates of Atlanta.
Rigorous studies have long been done on dogs to determine just how sensitive their sense of smell is. Many results indicate it is such a strong sense for dogs that they are able to detect various kinds of cancer to a high level of accuracy, including early stages of lung and breast cancer by nothing more than smelling a patient’s breath.
Such was the case for a man near Oxford, England. His dog tried to sniff and get at a mole on the man’s chest – a mole he had for over 15 years. Eventually, he went to the hospital and after his skin biopsy and two weeks of waiting, he received word he had melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. He got the mole removed soon after and has not encountered any problems – thanks to his dog, he says.
When you hear the words “arsenic” and “mustard gas”, you may think of chemical warfare or deadly poisons. Scientists have even gone on to label them “probable carcinogens”. These two items are also listed in the top cancer-risk category and recently scientists have added one more item to this category: tanning beds.
The World Health Organization wrapped up an analysis using cancer experts and 20 different studies. Their results found that if you start exposing yourself to tanning lamps before the age of 30, your risk of dangerous skin cancer increases by 75 percent! Equally disconcerting was a study that exposed mice to the UV rays found in tanning beds and resulted in a number of “worrying mutations” in cells.
What does this new classification mean, though? It labels tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation as definite causes of cancer, right up there with cigarette smoking, hepatitis B, inhalation from chimney sweeping, and more.
With less and less possibilities to lay out at the pool or get a tan on a weekend vacation to the beach, people will begin turning to tanning beds to achieve their desired bronze glow. Doctors are seeing more and more cases of skin cancer in young people and with the summer months slowly coming to a close, it is more important than ever to be reminded of the dangers of tanning beds.
This new information solidifies the importance of being proactive about your skin health. Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing and get your moles checked regularly by a dermatologist you trust. If a tan is something you really desire, there are safer options (like spray tans) that you should consider. A tan is not worth the safety of your skin.
We have all dreamed of a magic machine, pill, or procedure that would instantly make us slimmer. For years, traditional liposuction (and a combination of healthy diet and exercise) was the closest option to realizing this dream; but now body contouring technology has gone one step further with the introduction of Zerona®.
Zerona® isn’t magic (in fact it is laser technology), but it can provide exceptional body slimming results (similar to liposuction) with no surgery, no pain, and no recovery time. Instead of traditional liposuction where the excess fat is surgically removed from the body with a tube, the Zerona® treatment is done outside of the body using a low-level laser. This laser targets fat storing cells or adipose tissue (the fatty tissue that makes up those “problem areas” on our body) that is close to the skin surface and creates a very small pore in each fat cell’s protective membrane. This causes the excess fatty matter in the cell to be pushed out and eventually flushed out through our body’s natural detoxification system.
Because the fat is pushed out naturally, instead of surgically, patients can return to their daily activities right after the laser treatment. On the other hand, a single Zerona® cannot remove as much fat as traditional liposuction, so patients must come back for an average of six treatments.
Zerona® has been proven effective to reduce cellulite, contour and reshape the body and tighten and tone loose or sagging skin. Like traditional liposuction, it can also target specific problem areas of the body to reduce fat and trim inches.
Zerona® may not be the best option for severely overweight or obese patients. Also, like any other weight loss plan needs to be done in conjunction with healthy eating and exercise.
Losing confidence from Psoriasis? Dermatology Associates of Atlanta and the PHAROS EX-308 Excimer Laser help you get back on TRACK!
Patients suffering from psoriasis often feel a diminished level in their quality of life. They know that treatments for this condition are difficult to apply, expensive, and frequently ineffective. Oral medicines alone usually have toxic side effects. Topical steroids provide only temporary relief. The condition is not life-threatening, but when patients are embarrassed to be seen in public due to it, they will hunt high and low for a cure. Fortunately, the Psoriasis Treatment Center at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, originally opened by Dr. Edmond Griffin, brings an option that may benefit all those suffering from psoriasis: the Excimer Laser system, the latest in technology for treating psoriasis.
Unlike other lasers of its kind, the PHAROS EX-308 Excimer Laser uses narrow, concentrated beams of UV light, so that it can treat the specific affected area without affecting other, healthy parts of the body. Because the bandwidth of this laser is so narrow, the Excimer laser can treat more hard-to-reach areas like the hands and feet. The PHAROS EX-308 Excimer Laser can even effectively treat the most hard- to-treat area of the body: the scalp. By applying special oil to the scalp, the PHAROS EX-308 Excimer Laser can target the psoriasis without affecting the surrounding hair! PHAROS EX-308 Excimer Laser treatments only take a couple of minutes and most patients will see an improvement or disappearance of damaged skin after just 6 to 10 treatments; and unlike other Psoriasis treatments, Excimer laser does not carry the drawbacks of premature aging of healthy skin, skin thinning, or resistance to medication.
Psoriasis is a more common condition than one might think – affecting about 7.5 million Americans (according to The National Psoriasis Foundation). The most common form of psoriasis, affecting about 80 percent of patients, is called plaque psoriasis and is characterized by patches of red, inflamed, and slightly raised skin. The affected skin is oftentimes covered with silvery scales and is found most typically around the elbows, knees, and lower back. Other types of psoriasis include Guttate (small red spots on the skin, mostly on the limbs), Inverse (smooth, red patches of skin normally found in skin folds like armpits, around the groin, and under the breasts), pustular (white blisters filled with pus and surrounded by red skin that eventually scales over), and erythrodermic (larger areas of skin covering much of the body that experiences episodes of severe pain, itching, and skin shedding).
Because psoriasis is a chronic condition, patients will never be completely rid of it. However, effective treatments using the PHAROS EX-308 Excimer Laser, like the one available at the Psoriasis Treatment Center at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, can make the symptoms disappear more completely and for longer periods of time.
For years, the staff at the Dermatology Associates of Atlanta and doctors around the world have been using sclerotherapy for the treatment of spider and varicose veins. This procedure injects a solution called a “sclerosing agent” into the veins to collapse them – making them less noticeable or invisible on the outside of the skin. However, a newer and “foamier” variation of this technique has emerged. Doctors can now inject a carbon dioxide foam deep into the troublesome veins, using ultrasound tracking to clear out the blood and eventually destroy the veins.
While it may be scary to think of the destroying the channels that push the blood through your body – spider veins are, by definition, small veins that emerge typically around your knees, thighs, calves, and ankles caused from increased pressure on deeper, more vital veins and thus serve no purpose in pumping the blood through your body.
Foam sclerotherapy is unique in its reduced concentration of the sclerosing agent yielding more effective and longer lasting results. Sclerotherapy treatments are also less invasive and require much less downtime than most other treatment options. Vein stripping for example has a 30 percent chance of permanent paralysis and can leave you in a hospital bed from one to up to three weeks! Laser treatments are a viable alternative; however results may take up to a year to achieve. Sclerotherapy patients on the other hand average about four treatments with only minimal side effects including itching, hyperpigmentation, small blisters or ulcers, and temporary pain. Dermatology Associates of Atlanta have a specialized Atlanta Center for Veins at their practice and have successfully been treating veins at their practice for over 15 years.
Although Dermatology Associates of Atlanta doesn’t currently offer foam sclerotherapy, traditional sclerotherapy and laser treatments are available. Visit our website for more information about the vein treatments that Dermatology Associates offer.