Acanthosis nigricans+

Have you noticed dark patches in your armpits, behind your neck, in your groin or on your hands? It could be acanthosis nigricans.

Acanthosis nigricans is a condition that causes darkening and thickening of skin. Some people describe it as feeling like velvet. It is not contagious or harmful. You can’t wipe or scrub it away. Sometimes, it can signal an internal health issue. For this reason, you should see a dermatologist if you think you might have acanthosis nigricans. Your dermatologist can diagnose it just by looking at it. They will recommend testing if necessary and offer treatment options.

Acne+

Do your breakouts make you feel self conscious? You’re not alone and there is hope. As dermatologists, acne is the most common skin condition we treat. Dr. Mikhail has spent over a decade clearing the skin of acne patients in NYC. It is her passion within dermatology. She is known for saying, “getting rid of acne starts with identifying the root cause – once you know why someone is breaking out, you can take steps to correct it for good.” Her treatments are thoughtful and individualized. They include recommendations on diet and skin care along with prescription medications. Dr. Mikhail is there with her patients throughout their journey from breakouts to clear skin. Nothing makes her happier than witnessing this transformation.

There are 4 basic different types of acne you need to know about and there is a lot of overlap — comedonal, inflammatory, cystic, and hormonal.

  1. Comedonal clogged pores, blackheads and white heads.
  2. Inflammatory acne red pimples and pustules along with clogged pores.
  3. Cystic acne pimples are larger, deeper, and painful. Often, they leave scars.
  4. Hormonal acne called adult acne, can be inflammatory or cystic. Breakouts cluster in the “beard area,” on the chin, neck, and jawline. Flares tend to be cyclical. They worsen during a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Acne can be caused by genetics, products, puberty, and hormonal shifts. Treatment depends on why and how badly you are breaking out. If you have clogged pores or mild inflammatory acne, a topical regimen with proper skin care will help. For cystic acne, you might need pills to fight it from the inside out. In some cases, antibiotics can help. You can read Dr. Mikhail’s article about antibiotics and acne on GoodRx. If you have hormonal acne, birth control or spironolactone can help. When all else fails, or if your acne is severe and scarring, isotretinion (accutane) is an option. The important thing is to address it early.

Acne Extractions+

Acne extractions (also known as acne surgery) is a procedure dermatologists do to get rid of clogged pores and prevent breakouts. Squeezing blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples yourself might seem easy, but problems can happen. You might introduce a bacterial infection, push the contents further in instead of out, and leave permanent scars.

During an extraction, your dermatologist will clean your skin and then use a sterile tool to push out black and white heads. Since clogged pores cause pimples, cleaning them out makes skin smoother and prevents breakouts.

Acne Scars+

One thing worse than having acne is having acne scars. They can look like discoloration, divots, craters, or can be raised and thickened. The good news is there are many different procedures that really work! Here is the quick summary:

  1. Topical Treatments — Retinoids, AHAs, BHAs
  2. Microdermabrasion
  3. Chemical Peels
  4. TCA Cross
  5. Fillers
  6. Lasers
  7. Microneedling
  8. Radiofrequency (RF) Microneedling
  9. Surgical Subcision

Your dermatologist can tell you which would work best for your skin. Many people will need a series of treatments. Some will need a combination of treatments for best results. For a thorough explanation about all the options, read Dr. Mikhail’s published article, “Acne Scarring: How to Get Rid of It.”

Actinic Keratosis+

If you’ve had a lot of sun exposure over the years, you might already have actinic keratoses (AKs). Actinic Keratoses mainly affect light skinned people on the face, ears, chest, arms, and hands. They are sandpaper-like, rough, red spots that are more easily felt than seen. You can think of them as precancerous sunspots. Left unchecked, some AKs will turn into squamous cell carcinomas.

There are a few different treatments for AKs. If you have just a few, we can use an ice cold spray called liquid nitrogen to freeze them off. When there are many, we might prescribe a topical field treatment like fluorouracil or imiquimod. If an AK does not respond to treatment, you will likely need a skin biopsy to make sure it hasn’t already become cancerous.

If you are prone to AKs, it is important to protect your skin from the sun by seeking shade and with sunscreen, hats, and protective clothing.

Alopecia Areata+

If you’ve ever had sudden hair loss, you know how distressing it can be. With alopecia areata, people get sudden, round patches of hair loss. While most people get 1 or 2 small patches on their head, a rare minority of people can lose all their scalp hair (alopecia totalis) and body hair (alopecia universalis).

Nobody knows why but, in alopecia areata, the body’s immune system attacks the root of the hair. Nails may get tiny pinpoint dents. Alopecia Areata is not linked to any systemic health issues. But, people who have it might be more prone to allergies, asthma, eczema, thyroid dysfunction and vitiligo.

Alopecia Areata usually gets better by itself, but the timing is unpredictable. While there is no cure, the most common treatment is injection of corticosteroids into the affected areas to speed hair recovery. For people who don’t respond or who have extensive involvement, there are other treatment options.

Athlete’s foot+

You don’t have to be an athlete to have “athlete’s foot” (aka tinea pedis). It is a fungal infection that causes red, scaly patches on the feet and between the toes. You might pick it up by walking barefoot in public areas like gyms, locker rooms, or pool decks. Fungus loves to live in warm, wet areas so sweaty feet in closed shoes can make it worse.

To avoid getting athlete’s foot, wear flip-flops in communal areas. Wash your feet with soap and water every day, then completely dry them after washing. Make sure to change your socks whenever they are wet, or at least once a day. If possible, alternate your shoes. Don’t share towels, clothing, or shoes with someone who might have it.

Athlete’s foot is an annoying condition but it’s easy to treat. For mild cases, over the counter antifungal creams usually work. If it’s severe, you might need a prescription.

Atopic dermatitis+

Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema — an itchy rash that can be red, weepy, scaly, thickened, or dry. People usually get eczema as children. Some will grow out of it, but many do not. It becomes a chronic condition that can come and go for years.

For eczema prone skin, gentle skin care can help:

  1. Take only one shower a day.
  2. Shower for only 10 minutes.
  3. Keep the warm water, not hot.
  4. Use a fragrance free body wash.
  5. Pat dry then apply a fragrance free moisturizing cream.
  6. Wash clothes, sheets, and towels using fragrance free laundry detergent.
  7. Avoid spraying perfume and fragrance.
  8. In cold temperatures, use a humidifier.

If your eczema is flaring, prescription medications can help. They include anti-inflammatory topicals and pills, as well as the targeted biologic medication.

Basal Cell Carcinoma+

If you’ve been diagnosed with a Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), you are definitely not alone. BCC is the most common type of cancer in the world! Almost 2 million Americans are diagnosed with BCCs every year. It is most common in light skinned people who have had a lot of exposure to UV radiation.

BCCs often look like pimples that won’t heal. They can appear pearly and can range in color. Some are skin colored or pink. Less commonly, they can be dark. Most BCCs happen on the head/ neck.

If you think you might have a basal cell, see your dermatologist right away. You will likely need skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. The good news is BCCs are usually not life threatening. They are curable by surgical removal.

It is important to treat BCCs because they can grow deeply and invade nearby structures. Left alone, they can be disfiguring or turn into large wounds that might get infected.

Benign Growths+

Humans grow a lot of things on their skin! The good news is most are not cancerous. Benign growths are named after the cells inside them. Here is a list of some of the most common ones:

  • Angiomas
  • Angiofibroma (small growth made of collagen and blood vessels, usually on the nose)
  • Cysts
  • Dermatofibroma (hard pink or dark bumps, usually on the legs)
  • Digital mucous cyst (cyst connected to the joint space on the fingers)
  • Lipomas (made of fat)
  • Mucocele (fluid filled cyst, usually on the lips)
  • Nevi (moles)
  • Neurofibromas (made out of nerve cells)
  • Sebaceous Hyperplasia
  • Seborrheic Keratoses
  • Scrotal Calcinosis (hard cysts in testicular skin)
  • Skin Tags
  • Syringomas (small skin colored/ dark growths made of tiny glands, usually on the face)
  • Venous lake (dark blue bump on the lips)

If you have a new growth and you’re not sure what it is, please see your dermatologist right away to check it out. Most benign growths can be left alone if they don’t bother you. But if you want to get rid of them, your doctor can give you options on how to do it safely.

Birthmarks+

Birthmarks come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be present at birth or can appear shortly thereafter. While most birthmarks are harmless, it is important to have them checked by a board certified dermatologist. This way, you will find out what it is and know if there is anything you need to look out for. In some people, birthmarks can signal other important conditions.

Examples of common birthmarks are:

  • Cafe au lait macule common tan, flat patch. Having one is usually nothing to worry about. But if there are more than 3, it is important to check for associated genetic conditions.
  • Nevi also known as moles, rarely these can be very large and require testing and monitoring
  • Hemangiomas these are extra collections of blood vessels in the skin. They might be present at birth (congenital hemangiomas) or show up shortly thereafter (infantile hemangioma)
  • Nevus Sebaceous this is a not so common growth. In babies, they look flat a flat yellowish-orange patch. In adolescence, they can become bumpy or raised.
  • Port Wine Stains look like flat purplish red patches at birth, but can become pebbly and raised over time.
Bites and Stings+

You might be thinking of mosquitos or bees. But there’s a long list of creatures that like to bite or sting people: spiders, bed bugs, lice, fleas, ticks, and fire ants – Oh my! If you like to swim in the ocean, there are jellyfish, man-o-wars, and sea lice.

Your dermatologist can usually figure out what’s eating you just by looking at your skin. They can give you treatment to help you feel better and give you tips on how to avoid getting more bites.

Boils+

Boils are painful, pus filled bumps caused by infected hair follicles or oil glands. If they affect the eyelid, they are called styes. Most boils and styes will heal on their own within 1-3 weeks. It can help to keep the area clean and apply warm compresses. If the pain and swelling worsens, you should see a dermatologist right away.

Cellulitis+

Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that can be dangerous. The first sign of cellulitis is red, swollen skin that might feel hot and tender to touch. Cellulitis can show up anywhere on the body. The most common site is the face in children and the leg in adults. If you think you have cellulitis, see a board certified dermatologist as soon as possible. Caught early, oral antibiotics and good wound care should take care of it. If your cellulitis doesn’t get better after 1-2 days of treatment or if you develop a fever, call your doctor. You might need to change your antibiotic or take an antibiotic through the vein at a hospital.

Chicken Pox+

Chicken pox is a disease caused by a super contagious virus called the varicella-zoster virus. Since we now have a vaccine, we see much less of it than we used to. The most common symptom of chickenpox is a rash that turns into fluid-filled blisters and scabs over. It starts on the face, chest, and back and then spreads to the rest of the body. Other symptoms are fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, and headaches. In children, chickenpox usually gets better on it’s own without any issues. It can be more severe in adults and in people with weak immune systems. For pregnant women, it can cause birth defects.

For most people who get chickenpox, the main treatment is to make them more comfortable until it goes away. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with fevers. Avoid giving aspirin, which can cause a serious side effect if given during a viral infection. You can also do oatmeal baths, give antihistamines, and apply soothing calamine based creams.

Cold Sores+

Cold sores are a group of small blisters that usually come up around the mouth. They are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. This virus is so contagious that most people catch it by the time they’re 5 years old. In healthy people, cold sores go away on their own within 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the virus stays hidden in your body and the cold sores can come back if it reactivates. The most common reasons the virus wakes up are stress, sun exposure, and trauma.

If you get cold sores, your dermatologist can prescribe medicine to prevent and treat them.

To prevent infecting others with the virus, take the following precautions:

  • Don’t kiss people until the sores heal
  • Avoid intimate contact
  • Avoid people who have a weak immune system, like newborn babies
  • Don’t share food, drinks, or personal items like lip gloss
  • Try not to touch your cold sores
  • Wash your hands frequently
Contact Dermatitis+

Contact Dermatitis is a type of skin allergy. Your skin forms an immune reaction to something that touches it. Some common culprits are fragrance, jewelry, soaps, personal care products, and poison ivy. Contact dermatitis looks like an itchy, red rash where your skin came into contact with the trigger. It usually appears after a delay – anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks later. If the trigger is removed, it goes away on it’s own. Prescription medicines can help.

Since allergic dermatitis is a delayed reaction, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause. A board certified dermatologist can often figure it out from your history and what the rash looks like. Otherwise, you might need a type of allergy test called a patch test.

Cysts+

Cysts are sacs under the skin named for what they’re made of and what’s inside them. They should feel soft and movable under the skin. If you press on a cyst, a liquid or cheese like material might come out.

You can get cysts anywhere on the body. Some people are prone to making them. Most cysts are benign and aren’t dangerous. But, they can grow or get infected. Any growth that is new, changing, growing, itching or bleeding needs to be looked at by a dermatologist. Most cysts are removable with a skin surgery done under local anesthesia. You’ll likely go home with stitches after the procedure. In some cases, cysts can come back in the same spot after surgery.

Dandruff+

If you see snow on your black sweater, it could be dandruff. Dandruff is a common problem where dry skin flakes off the scalp. It’s not harmful or contagious, but it can be a little embarrassing. For most people, over the counter anti-dandruff shampoos can help. If they don’t work for you, you should see a dermatologist to find out if something more is going on. Conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and infections can cause flaking that looks like dandruff.

Dermatofibroma+

A dermatofibroma is a firm, round bump that can be found anywhere on the body, usually on the legs. They can be pink, red, or darkly colored. Some have a central clearing. Often, they come up in place of a mosquito bite, ingrown hair or other trauma. Dermatofibromas look like they’re on top of the skin’s surface, but actually, they’re below it. It’s usually best to leave them alone unless you have one that looks suspicious, changes, or bothers you. Since they’re deep, removal requires a small surgery with stitches.

Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans+

A DFSP is a rare type of cancer that comes from the skin’s connective tissue. They often start out looking like a scar or keloid on the trunk, arms, or legs. DFSPs don’t usually spread outside of the skin, but they can continue to grow outward in place. Eventually, they form hard lumps of tissue. If you have a growth that’s suspicious for DFSP, you’ll need a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for a confirmed DFSP is usually surgical, though some people might need radiation.

Diabetes Skin Signs+

Diabetes can affect every organ of the body, including your skin. Some skin issues come up early, possibly even before a person knows they have diabetes. Other problems show up later, especially in people who have poor control of their blood sugar.

First signs of diabetes include:

  • Dark velvety patches in body folds or on the back of the neck (acanthosis nigricans)
  • Small fleshy, skin colored growths on the neck, body folds, or eyelids (skin tags).
  • Dry skin with fish like scales (ichthyosis).
  • Fungal and bacterial infections such as nail fungus, ring worm, yeast infections, folliculitis, and cellulitis.

Later signs:

  • Dark, indented spots on the shins that you might confuse with age spots (diabetic dermopathy).
  • Thick skin with blisters and open sores on the feet (diabetic foot syndrome).
  • Hardening of the skin on the hands (scleroderma like skin changes).
  • Hardening and thickening of skin on the back, shoulders, and neck (scleredema).
  • Waxy red yellow plaques, sometimes with ulcers on the shins (necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum).

If you think you have skin signs of diabetes, see your dermatologist right away so you can be sure of the diagnosis and address it quickly. Diabetes can be a life threatening illness. The sooner you have it under control, the better it is for your health.

Drug Rashes+

If you take a drug, there’s a chance you’ll react to it. This includes medicines you inhale, eye drops, over the counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

There are several different types of drug reactions. Some cause a rash on the skin that goes away when you stop the drug. Others can cause lasting health problems or even be life threatening. Any new rash should be seen by a dermatologist to make sure you get the right diagnosis as soon as possible. When you see your doctor, be sure to bring a list of your medicines, including anything over the counter, vitamins, and supplements.

Dry Skin+

When your skin loses too much water, it gets dry. You might be prone to dry skin if you live in a place with low humidity or one that gets really cold. Indoor heat, sitting by a fire, or showering too much can suck the moisture out of your skin. For some people, dry skin is part of a medical condition like eczema or psoriasis. Others are on medication that causes dry skin as a side effect. There are also genetic causes for dry skin. Finally, our skin naturally gets drier as we age.

You can help your dry skin with gentle skin care and moisturizer. Take only one shower a day for less than 10 minutes. Use warm water, not hot. Choose a fragrance free, gentle soap or body wash. When you get out of the shower, pat dry and apply a cream based moisturizer right away. Reapply moisturizer as much as you need throughout the day.

Dyshidrotic Eczema+

Dyshidrotic eczema causes tiny, itchy blisters on the palms, soles and sides of the fingers and toes. We don’t know the cause, but it seems to run in families. It’s not contagious to others. Flares can happen from overwashing your hands, touching irritating chemicals, sweating, and stress. Allergies to things like metals, fragrances, and rubbers can also be triggers.

Your dermatologist can diagnose dyshidrotic eczema from your medical history and skin exam. Most commonly, they’ll prescribe a topical steroid or anti-inflammatory medicine.

Along with that, you should take the following measures to protect against flares:

  • Wash your hands with a gentle, fragrance free cleanser
  • Pat dry after then moisturize with a thick cream right away
  • Look for creams that contain ceramides to help repair the skin
  • Use vinyl gloves lined with cotton when doing wet work
  • If you come into contact with a trigger, wash your hands and moisturize as soon as possible
Eczema+

Eczema is a catch all diagnosis for conditions that cause red, inflamed skin that itches. We don’t know the exact cause, but a combination of genetic and environmental triggers are involved.

There are 7 different types of eczema:

  1. Atopic dermatitis
  2. Contact dermatitis
  3. Neurodermatitis
  4. Dyshidrotic eczema
  5. Nummular eczema
  6. Seborrheic dermatitis
  7. Stasis dermatitis

It’s possible to have more than one type of eczema at the same time. Each has its own triggers and treatments. If you might have eczema, consult with a board certified dermatologist. They will be able to pinpoint your diagnosis and help you treat and prevent flares.

Folliculitis+

Folliculitis is a common skin infection that affects hair follicles. It can happen anywhere except for the palms and soles. Folliculitis looks like an outbreak of pimples. You can see a red ring around the infected hairs. Some people don’t feel anything, while others complain of pain or itching.

You get folliculitis from bacteria or fungi that find their way into hair follicles through areas of skin damage caused by things like:

  • Shaving, plucking, waxing
  • Dirty hot tubs
  • Tight clothing or equipment
  • Weight gain
  • Medications

If you have folliculitis, it’s best to see your dermatologist. You might need an antibiotic or antifungal medicine to clear it. They will also give you tips on how to avoid getting it again.

Genital Herpes+

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection. More than 1 out of 6 people in the US have it. The symptoms can vary. Many people have no symptoms at all. Some have mild symptoms that can easily be confused with pimples or ingrown hairs. Others get painful blisters and sores repeatedly.

The cause of genital herpes is usually a virus called the herpes simplex 2 virus (HSV2). You get it from sexual contact with someone who may or may not know they have it. Since HSV2 is spread from skin touching skin, a condom won’t prevent it.

If you’re worried you might have genital herpes, see a dermatologist as soon as possible. There are treatment options to shorten or prevent outbreaks. Treatment can also lower your risk of passing it onto someone else.

Genital Warts+

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). It’s a common sexually transmitted infection. People pick up the virus through skin to skin contact with someone who has it. It’s possible to spread it even when you don’t see warts. There are over 100 types of HPV and people can pick up more than one type. Some just cause bumps, but others can cause cancer of the cervix, penis, anus, mouth, or throat.

There is an HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) that protects against 9 of the strains, including the ones most likely to cause cancer. As of this writing, its FDA approved for males and females aged 9 to 45 years.

Dermatologists treat genital warts all the time. Your doctor might recommend a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and see which type of HPV you have. To get rid of them, they might freeze them with a cold spray (liquid nitrogen), remove them surgically, cauterize them, or apply a medication to them. They might prescribe a topical medicine you can use at home. Warts can be very stubborn, so plan on needing more than one visit for this. Also, they can come back, so monitor the area closely.

Granuloma Annulare+

Granuloma annulare is a harmless rash that isn’t contagious. It can look like a group of firm skin colored bumps arranged in a ring. They like to come up over bony areas like the top of the hands, elbows, ankles, or feet. In most cases, your dermatologist can diagnose granuloma annulare from your medical history and skin exam. In some cases, they’ll do a small skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. If widespread, you might have a blood test to check your blood sugar. Most of the time, granuloma annulare goes away by itself. While no treatment is totally proven to work, there are different options that can help.

Hair Loss+

If you have hair loss, the first thing you should do is see your dermatologist. It’s important to figure out why it’s happening before trying to treat it – especially because some over the counter treatments can do more harm than good. Also, you don’t want to waste time. You’ll get better results with prompt treatment that’s focused on the root cause.

Possible causes of hair loss include:

  • Hormone abnormalities
  • Age related
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Infections
  • Inflammation
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Medications
  • Hairstyles and treatments

Your dermatologist will examine your scalp and hair. They might do a hair pull test, order blood tests, check for infections, or recommend a scalp biopsy. Once they know why you’re losing hair, they’ll give you treatment options. For more information, read Dr. Mikhail’s hair loss article.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease+

If you have a toddler, you might have a run in with hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). The cause is a virus called coxsackie that mostly affects children under 5 years old. A child with HFMD might have a low grade fever, sore throat, and loss of appetite. Itchy reddish spots come up on the hands and feet. Eventually, they turn into blisters. Along with this, there are painful mouth sores.

You can catch HFMD by close contact with someone who has it or by touching something contaminated by the virus. In the United States, outbreaks usually happen in the summer and fall. Most kids get better on their own within a week to 10 days. In the meantime, it’s important to keep them hydrated and take precautions to prevent it from spreading. Avoid close contact with others, wash hands frequently, and disinfect surfaces.

Head Lice+

Head lice is an infestation of Pediculus humanus capitis in the scalp. It’s spread through head to head contact or by sharing things like towels, clothing, hats, and brushes. Millions of people get it every year. It’s really common in schools. In the United States, about 6 to 12 million children between the ages of 3 and 12 get head lice every year. More girls than boys get it.

Having head lice doesn’t mean you’re dirty. The lice need human blood to survive. They don’t care if your hair is clean or dirty. Head lice are not harmful, but they can make a scalp really itchy.

To look for lice, follow these steps:

  • Wet the hair
  • Shine a bright light
  • Separate the hair into sections
  • Slowly comb out each section with a fine toothed comb
  • Look for adult lice and their eggs (nits) – lice look like fast moving sesame, eggs look like brown, tan or clear seeds or casings that are firmly attached to the hairs and don’t flake off.

There are several over the counter products you can use to treat lice. If you’re not sure or the over the counter product doesn’t work, see your dermatologist.

Heart Disease Skin Signs+

As your largest and most obvious organ, the skin often mirrors problems going on inside the body. That’s why any new rash or skin change should be checked by your dermatologist.

Changes in the skin that could be a sign of heart problems include (adapted from the American Academy of Dermatology website):

  • Swelling and redness of your lower legs (stasis dermatitis) can mean your heart isn’t pumping as efficiently as it should.
  • Blue or purple discoloration this can be localized to a single area (cyanosis) or can be more widespread in a net like pattern (livedo reticularis). It might mean there’s a blockage in blood vessels.
  • Waxy yellowish growths on your skin (xanthelasma on the eyelids, xanthomas on the body) can mean your cholesterol levels are high.
  • Nails curve downward with swollen fingers (clubbing) could signal a heart or lung problem.
  • Red or purple lines under the nails (splinter hemorrhages) if you see these with a high fever, the worry is a heart infection called endocarditits.
  • Smooth, waxy lumps on the skin (amyloidosis) this is a protein build up that affects the skin and also the heart.
  • Painful lumps on the fingers and toes (Osler’s Nodes) these are also a sign of a heart infection called endocarditis.
  • Dark red, painful discoloration of the palms and soles (Janeway lesions) another sign of endocarditis.
  • Non-itchy rash with raised edges in a kid who’s recently had strep throat (erythema marginatum) could be a sign of rheumatic fever, a condition that can permanently damage the heart.
  • Rash and cracked, swollen lips suspicious for Kawasaki Disease, a condition affecting kids 6 months to 5 years old that can cause heart disease.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa+

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) causes painful boils under the skin of the armpits, groin, or other body folds. The boils become inflamed and painful. They rupture, scar over, and then the whole process starts again. You might see the boils join together to create tunnels and permanent scarring. The cause of HS is clogging of pores and hair follicles. It’s not an infection, but bacteria can infect the boils.

HS affects people between puberty and age 40. It’s more common in women. Triggers include smoking cigarettes, hormones, and being overweight. HS is more common and can be more severe in African Americans and Hispanics. If you have a blood relative with HS, your chance of getting it is higher.

Many people confuse HS with acne, pimples, and infections. It’s important to see a dermatologist right away if you have recurrent boils. The sooner you treat HS, the better it responds and the less likely you are to get permanent scarring.

Hives+

The medical term for hives is urticaria. Hives are itchy pink welts that are slightly raised. They appear anywhere on the body and range in size from as small as a pinpoint to as big as a dinner plate. New hives can come and go in different places, but a single hive shouldn’t last more than 24 hours.

Outbreaks of hives are broken down by how long they last. Acute Urticaria lasts less than 6 weeks. Chronic Urticaria lasts longer than 6 weeks.

Things that can trigger hives include:

  • Allergies
  • Infections
  • Autoimmune Conditions
  • Exposure to sun, heat, cold, or water
  • Contact with chemicals
  • Scratching or rubbing the skin
  • Sometimes we don’t know what the trigger is.

Your dermatologist can diagnose hives by taking your history and examining you. If your rash comes and goes, be sure to take a picture in case it’s not there for your appointment. For acute urticaria, your doctor will give you treatment. If your hives become chronic, they will probably do some testing to figure out why.

Hyperhidrosis+

Hyperhidrosis means excessive sweating. It can have a big impact on your quality of life. Some people sweat too much all over. Others have specific areas, like the armpits, palms, or soles, that sweat too much. When you see your dermatologist, they’ll ask you questions to see if there’s something causing you to sweat. They will also offer you treatment options like prescription topicals, oral medicines, and botulinum toxin injections.

Infestations+

What’s eating you? Unfortunately there are a whole host of critters that live off humans and cause symptoms.

Some popular ones are:

  • Bed Bugs
  • Lice/ Crabs
  • Scabies
  • Ticks
  • Parasites

Dermatologists are trained to recognize and treat infestations. If you have a rash or itching that keeps getting worse, get checked as soon as possible. Some infestations are dangerous, others are contagious.

Keloids+

Keloids are a type of scar that grows bigger than the wound that caused it. They tend to appear on the ears, neck, shoulders, chest, or back. Keloids are darkly pigmented in people of color but can look red or pink in light skin.

Risk factors for keloids are family history, having skin of color, and being between the ages of 10 and 30.

Unfortunately, keloids can be noticeable and disfiguring. Larger ones can affect a person’s range of motion. In some cases, keloids are itchy or painful. If you’re prone to keloids, it’s important to take precautions to avoid or minimize them. You should avoid piercings, tattoos, and unnecessary procedures. If you have skin breakouts, seek treatment as soon as possible. There are different treatment options for keloids. They include steroid injections, lasers, surgery, compression, silicone scar sheets, and radiation. Most of the time, you’ll need more than one treatment and multiple treatment sessions.

Keratosis Pilaris+

Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a very common skin condition. Tiny, rough bumps come up on the skin of the outer arms, thighs, cheeks, or buttocks. The bumps can be skin colored, white, red or darkly colored. KP isn’t dangerous or contagious. It’s caused by a build-up of dry skin around hair follicles. Dry skin and cold weather can make it worse.

You don’t need to treat KP unless it bothers you. Proper skin care and the right products can help. Your dermatologist can customize a regimen for you to follow. They might give you a prescription for something to exfoliate dead skin cells and smooth out the skin. There is no cure for KP, but you can control it with the right treatment and maintenance plan.

Lichen planus+

Lichen planus (LP) is a common skin condition. It looks like flat topped, reddish bumps and can come up anywhere on the skin. Most commonly, you see it on the wrists, lower back, ankles, inside the mouth, or on the genitals. It can also affect the scalp and nails. LP is usually itchy. In people of color, it can be darkly pigmented and leave hyperpigmentation on the skin.

The cause of LP seems to be over activation of the immune system. It’s been linked to certain medicines, like diuretics. There might also be a link to viruses, specifically Hepatitis C.

Your dermatologist can usually diagnose LP through your medical history and physical exam. In some cases, they’ll take a skin biopsy to be sure. There is no cure for LP, but we have treatment options that can control it. These include steroids, anti-inflammatories, and light therapy.

Lupus+

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect the skin. There are several different types of lupus. Some people only have it in the skin, while in others it affects internal organs like the kidneys, joints, and lungs.

Flares of lupus look different depending on the subtype a person has:

  • Discoid lupus raised, thick scaly patches on the face, scalp, or ears sometimes with scarring and permanent hair loss.
  • Subacute cutaneous lupus red scaly rash in sun exposed skin like the chest, upper back, or neck. It can sometimes show up as red rings on the skin. Some people are so sensitive that sunlight and even fluorescent bulbs can trigger a flare.
  • Acute cutaneous lupus the famous “butterfly rash” of lupus looks like scaly red rash across the cheeks and nose. It can last from hours to days.
  • Lupus panniculitis a form of lupus that causes inflammation deep in the fat. It looks like painful red welts under the skin. The inflammation destroys fat cells, leaving indented scars.
  • Tumid lupus develops on sun exposed skin. It looks like a smooth red welt with raised borders.
  • Drug induced lupus caused by a medicine you take and goes away when you stop it. Can cause joint pain along with sun sensitivity and a skin rash. The top 3 drugs that can cause drug induced lupus are:
    • Hydralzine (used to treat high blood pressure)
    • Procainamide (used to treat irregular heart rhythms)
    • Isoniazid (used to treat tuberculosis)

Dermatologists specialize in treating lupus of the skin. It’s important to get care early, protect yourself from the sun, and follow up to see if there’s any involvement of internal organs.

Lyme Disease+

Lyme Disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. It’s passed to humans through the bite of an infected blacklegged deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. After the bite, Lyme Disease happens in stages.

Stage 1

The earliest stage of Lyme Disease is a rash that comes up 3 to 30 days after the tick bite. Most often, the rash looks like a red bull’s eye that expands outward. You might also have flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes.

Stage 2

Without treatment, the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease can spread into the body. This makes some people feel sick. They might have fevers, joint pain, neck stiffness, muscle aches, numbness, pain, shortness of breath, heart problems, and dizziness. Bell’s palsy, where half the face droops, can happen. On the skin, reddish blue lumps can appear. They tend to come up on the earlobe in kids and around the nipple of adults.

Stage 3

If Lyme Disease is not treated, some people progress to Stage 3. In this stage, it causes problems in the heart and nervous system. The most common skin symptom in stage 3 Lyme Disease is something called acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans. In this condition, long term inflammation causes the skin of the lower leg and foot to redden then harden and shrink. Tumors can grow on the skin. It’s thought that ongoing infection in the lymph nodes can cause B-cell lymphoma.

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, tell your doctor right away. You might need to take antibiotics. The earlier you get treatment for Lyme Disease, the better your chance of curing it.

Melanoma+

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. The cause is out of control growth of the cells that make pigment, called melanocytes. Melanoma grows out of a mole in about 20% of cases. More often, it’s a new spot. Since melanoma can spread or metastasize, it’s important to find it early. There are some clues to know about:

  • ABCDEs
    • Asymmetry — not the sign on one side as the other
    • Border — not a perfect circle or over
    • Color — more than one color in the same spot
    • Diameter — anything larger than a pencil eraser (6 mm)
    • Evolution – change, this is the most important sign to recognize
  • The Ugly Duckling Sign moles in a person tend to look like each other. If you see a mole that looks different, or doesn’t seem to fit in, it’s suspicious.
  • Symptoms any mole that itches or bleeds should be checked.
  • Nail streaks dark streaks in the nail should be watched. Look for more than one color, wide bands, or color bleeding onto the skin.

Risk factors for melanoma are:

  • Personal history of skin cancer
  • Family history of melanoma
  • Fair skin
  • Having many moles
  • Weakened immune system
  • Excess sun or ultraviolet exposure

If you notice a new or changing mole, you should have it checked right away. Melanoma is curable if found early. For people who have risk factors, it’s important to have regular full body skin exams by a dermatologist. Whether you have risk factors or not, you should get in the habit of checking your own skin once a month. You can learn the best way to do this here.

Melasma+

Melasma is a common skin discoloration issue. People get brown-grey patches on the face, usually the forehead, cheeks, nose, upper lip, and chin. Most people (90%) who have melasma are women. It’s more common in people of color than in people with fair skin.

The two main causes of melasma are hormones and sunlight. Estrogen in your body, from birth control pills, or from pregnancy triggers melasma. Ultraviolet exposure adds fuel to the fire by activating the cells that make pigment in your skin.

Your dermatologist can tell you have melasma by looking at your skin. They might use a special light called a Wood’s lamp to see how deep the pigment is. Possible treatment options include prescription topicals, chemical peels, and lasers. Unfortunately, melasma can be stubborn. It recurs the minute you step into the sun without protection. After your treatment, you’ll need to maintain your results with proper skin care and sun protection.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma+

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is a type of skin cancer that’s very rare, but very aggressive. Scientists think it might be linked to a virus called the Merkel Cell Polyomavirus. Almost everyone who gets it is older than 50 and has had lots of sun exposure. Men get it more than women. MCCs usually come up on the head or neck. They can look like sores, pimples, or bug bites that won’t go away. Most of the time, they’re painless.

Since this type of cancer is dangerous, it’s important to find it as early as possible. If you notice any new growth that doesn’t heal or go away within a couple of weeks, see your dermatologist right away.

Milia+

Ever notice tiny white or yellow bumps on your face? You can’t really squeeze them out because they’re under the skin. These are milia, miniature cysts filled with trapped keratin. They’re not dangerous, but they can be annoying. The best way to get rid of milia is with extractions by your dermatologist and skin care. During an extraction procedure, your derm will use a sterile tool to pry the milia out. After that, you’ll need to stick to a good skin care regimen to keep them from coming back as much as possible. Some people are prone to making milia and will need regular extractions for maintenance.

Moles+

Everybody has moles! They’re common. Lighter skin people have more than people of color. Moles can be brown, black, pink, skin colored, or even blue! They should be the same color throughout, have a smooth border, and be either oval or round.

The issue with moles is that melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, can start in a mole. You should get in the habit of checking your skin and seeing your dermatologist if you notice anything suspicious.

Here’s what you should look out for:

  • New moles, especially if you’re over 30
  • Spots that change or grow
  • Moles that have more than one color
  • Moles that are bigger than a pencil eraser
  • Moles with a jagged border
  • Anything that bleeds
  • Growths that itch
  • Any mole that looks different from the others (ugly duckling sign)
Molluscum Contagiosum+

Molluscum is a virus that causes bumps on the skin. Most often, it affects little children between the ages of 1 and 10. Kids with eczema get it more easily. Like the name says, it’s very contagious. You can catch it just by touching, sharing towels, or at the swimming pool. The bumps can be a little itchy, but aren’t painful. Scratching or rubbing them can make them spread more.

Adults can catch molluscum through sexual contact or even through non-hygienic bikini waxing. You can read more about that here, in an article written by one of Dr. Mikhail’s patients for Cosmopolitan.

In people with a healthy immune system, molluscum usually clears on its own within 6-18 months. Dermatologists treat molluscum in many different ways, depending how many and where on the body they are.

Nail Fungus+

Nail fungus is a common nail infection. It causes your nails to change color, thicken, and have debris underneath. People who have a weakened immune system, diabetes, poor circulation, or athlete’s foot are more likely to get nail fungus. Smoking, walking around barefoot, and sweat can also make your risk higher.

Any nail changes should be checked by a dermatologist. With nail fungus, early treatment works better and prevents permanent damage to your nails.

Nummular Eczema+

Nummular eczema shows up as a red, scaly, coin shaped rash. It can ooze and itch. Most people who get it are adults and it usually happens on the body, arms, or legs. We don’t always know the cause of nummular eczema. In some cases, it’s because of an allergy or very dry skin. Dermatologists treat nummular eczema with proper skin care and anti-inflammatory medicines. They might offer a patch test to look for allergies. Nummular eczema usually gets better with treatment but can recur. Fortunately, it’s not harmful or contagious.

Patch Test+

Patch testing is a way to check for allergies to things your skin comes in contact with. Some examples are fragrances, preservatives, metals, and dyes. It’s useful for people who have eczema flares because it helps us figure out of something external is responsible.

When you come in for patch testing, we apply the test substances in small chambers and tape them to your back (using hypoallergenic tape). You wear the patches for 48 hours, then come in to have them removed. We mark a grid on your back corresponding to each chamber. You come back the next day for a final reading. We check the grid to see if there is a reaction to any of the substances. If you’re allergic to what was in the chamber, we’ll see a red circle that might be raised or even bubble up.

Patch testing takes 3 days because it looks for a delayed allergy. This is different from needle prick testing which looks for an immediate reaction to something you would eat or inhale. Once we know what you’re allergic to, we’ll tell you exactly how best to avoid it.

Pemphigus+

Pemphigus is a group of rare diseases that causes blisters. The blisters are soft, limp, and break open easily. There are many different types of pemphigus. In some, blisters show up only on the skin. In others, blisters come in the nose, eyes, throat, anus, or genitals. Wherever the blisters are, they’ll leave painful sores that can take a long time to heal.

The cause of pemphigus is autoimmune, meaning the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells. Most of the time, we don’t know why it happens. Sometimes, the cause is a drug, a tumor in the body, or genetics.

If you have blisters on the skin, see a dermatologist right away. They’ll take your history, examine your skin, and likely order tests. You’ll probably need skin biopsies and bloodwork. There are different treatments that can make pemphigus better. Your dermatologist will be able to guide you to the best options.

Perioral Dermatitis+

Perioral dermatitis looks like a combination of acne and eczema. It shows up around the mouth, nose or eyes. Many people complain of burning or itching. It’s not always clear what causes perioral dermatitis. Some possible culprits are topical or inhaled steroids, fluoride toothpaste, cinnamon or mint gum, and skin care products.

If you have a breakout that won’t go away, it might be perioral dermatitis. Your dermatologist can give you treatment to get rid of it and help you find the right skin care regimen.

Pityriasis Rosea+

Pityriasis rosea (PR) is one of the most famous rashes in dermatology! It starts with a large oval patch on the skin, called the herald patch, followed by an eruption of smaller ones. Scientists believe a virus (human herpesvirus 7 or 8) causes PR, but that it’s not contagious. The best thing is that it usually goes away by itself after 6 weeks.

You don’t necessarily need treatment for PR, unless it itches or bothers you. Pregnant women who get it need close follow up. Sometimes rashes that look like PR are caused by a medicine or infection. If your doctor suspects this, they might do a skin biopsy and/ or a blood test.

Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac+

You might have heard the saying, “leaves of three, let them be.” Poison ivy is the most common cause of contact dermatitis in the United States. It, along with poison oak and sumac, carries an oil called urushiol. Most people are allergic to the oil and will get a reaction to it. The more you’ve been exposed, the worse your reaction will be.

If you’ve never had poison ivy, oak, or sumac, it will take 2 or 3 weeks to get the reaction. But if you’ve already been exposed, the rash can come as soon as 4 to 48 hours later.

For treatment, your dermatologist will likely prescribe you a topical steroid. If your rash is severe, they might give you pills.

Psoriasis+

Psoriasis is a common skin rash that happens because of an overactive immune system. Inflammation causes skin cells to multiply too quickly. They don’t shed the way they’re supposed to. What you see is a rash that’s red and scaly. Psoriasis likes to show up on the elbows and knees. It can also affect the scalp, ears, hands, feet, body folds, genitals, and nails.

Scientists now know that psoriasis is not just skin deep. While it can affect your outward appearance and self confidence, the inflammation also has internal effects. People with psoriasis have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Almost 1/3 get psoriatic arthritis. Signs of this are swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints and surrounding areas.

There’s no cure for psoriasis, but the treatments we have today are better than ever. They include topicals, light therapy, pills, and biologic medicines. See your dermatologist right away to learn about your options. Dr. Mikhail is an expert in psoriasis. She was the director of phototherapy at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC for 7 years and is a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Rashes+

To most people, all rashes look alike. Board Certified Dermatologists are specifically trained to see subtle differences and identify the most likely diagnosis. They’ll know what the best treatment options are and give you information on how to care for your skin properly. Most importantly, they know how to recognize rashes that can be dangerous or contagious.

If you have a rash and aren’t sure what it is, don’t try to treat it yourself at home. A lot of times, self treatment changes how a rash looks and can actually make it worse. Also remember that some rashes can be dangerous. If you have a fever, blistering, or pain, it could be a medical emergency.

Ringworm+

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by fungus. It’s so common, you might have already had it! You can get ringworm on any part of your body. Some examples are athlete’s foot, jock itch, and scalp ringworm. The name ringworm comes from the red scaly rings you see on the skin.

You can catch ringworm through skin contact, walking barefoot, petting an animal that has it, or by touching an infected object (like a yoga mat). The fungi that cause ringworm can survive on surfaces like clothing, brushes, and gym equipment for a long time.

Ringworm isn’t always easy to recognize. People confuse it with skin rashes like eczema or psoriasis. Using the wrong medicine on a fungal rash can make it worse, so it’s best to see a dermatologist. The treatment is with antifungal topicals, sprays, or pills.

Rosacea+

Does your face turn red after a few drinks or a spicy meal? Do you have broken blood vessels that won’t go away? You might have rosacea. Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes flushing, blushing, and breakouts.

There are 4 subtypes:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic mainly redness and flushing
  • Papulopustular pimples and pustules, like you see in acne
  • Phymatous skin get thick and bumpy
  • Ocular eyes are red and irritated, eyelids get swollen and inflamed

If you have rosacea, you might notice that triggers cause your skin to flare. Common triggers are stress, sunlight, alcohol, heat, spicy foods, and skin care products.

Managing rosacea starts with figuring out what your triggers are and trying to avoid them. Next, you need the right treatment plan. Your dermatologist will tailor a skin care regimen for you. They might combine prescription and over the counter products. If you have constant redness or broken blood vessels, lasers can help.

Scabies+

Scabies is an infestation caused by a mite that burrows underneath your skin. The mites feed on your dead skin cells, lay their eggs, and poop. They cause an intense reaction from your body, so you’ll get a very itchy rash. Scabies is common and contagious. It can happen to anyone, but spreads easily through nursing homes, hospitals, and shelters. The mites are microscopic, you won’t see them with your naked eye. Your dermatologist can diagnose scabies with a head to toe skin exam. They’ll treat you with medicines and explain what you need to do to get rid of it once and for all.

Scars+

Scars happen when your body has to fix a skin injury. Everyone heals and scars differently. The way you scar depends on how bad your injury was, where on the body it is, your skin type, genetics, and wound care. Out of all of these, you can only control wound care.

If you have an injury, keep it clean and covered. Use soap, water, and petrolatum then cover with a bandage. Avoid hydrogen peroxide and topical antibiotics, unless they’re prescribed to you by a doctor. It’s important to get stitches if you need them. If you have a wound from surgery or had stitches, follow your doctor’s after care instructions.

There are many different options for scar treatment. Most work better if you do them within the first year of your injury. See your dermatologist early to make sure you get the best results.

Seborrheic Dermatitis+

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition. It looks like patchy redness with greasy scale and sometimes yellow crusting. You usually see it on the face or scalp, but it can also affect the chest. Many babies get a kind of seborrheic dermatitis, called cradle cap, that goes away on it’s own within a year. When adults get it, they tend to get flares on and off throughout their lives.

For many, over the counter dandruff shampoos are enough to control seborrheic dermatitis. If you still have flares while using them, see a dermatologist. They can make sure you don’t have a different condition and offer better treatment options.

Seborrheic Keratosis+

Seborrheic keratoses (SKs) are one of the most common skin growths. They look warty, waxy, and like they’re pasted onto the skin. SKs aren’t harmful and don’t turn into skin cancer. You don’t have to treat them unless they bother you.

As always, you should have any new growth checked by a dermatologist. If your SKs bother you, your dermatologist can use a variety of tools to treat them.

Shingles+

If you’ve had the chickenpox, the virus that caused it stays in your body and hides in your nerves. If reactivated, the virus moves from your nerves to the skin and causes shingles.

Shingles is a painful, blistering rash that follows a nerve root. If you think you have it, see a doctor right away. Shingles can cause health problems like pneumonia, swelling in the brain (encephalitis), blindness, hearing loss, and lasting pain. Early treatment lowers your risk of long term problems.

You can spread shingles to people who haven’t had the chickenpox. If you have an active infection, it’s best to avoid contact with pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and the elderly.

Skin Biopsy+

If you have a rash or a suspicious growth, your dermatologist might recommend taking a skin biopsy for testing. They’ll start by numbing your skin with an injection of anesthetic. Once it kicks in, they’ll remove a small sample of skin. The sample will be sent to a pathology lab for processing and testing. At the lab, another doctor (called a pathologist) looks under the microscope to give us a diagnosis. A pathologist can usually tell us the cause of a rash, if something is cancerous, or if there is an infection.

Skin Cancer+

Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. The good news is most are curable if found early and you can usually see it before it becomes a problem.

Examples of skin cancer include:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Dermatofibrosarcome protuberans
  • Lymphoma of the skin
  • Kaposi’s Sarcoma
  • Merkel cell carcinoma

Any growth that’s new, changing, growing, itching, or bleeding is suspicious. If you see something that doesn’t look right, show a dermatologist right away. It could be life saving.

Skin Tags+

Skin tags are very common benign growths. They look skin colored or dark and fleshy. Most occur in the neck, armpits, eyelids, or groin. They’re more common in people who are obese or who have diabetes. But, anyone can get them. Skin tags are harmless and don’t need to be treated. If they bother you, your dermatologist can remove them cosmetically.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma+

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. There are about 1 million cases a year. SCCs look like red patches, open sores, crater shaped bumps, or wart-like growths. Sometimes they itch, bleed, or scab over.

Most SCCs happen in sun exposed areas, but they can grow anywhere. If we find it early, most SCCs are curable. The treatment depends on how advanced the cancer is. If it stays in the top layer of skin, options include cryosurgery (cold spray), ED&C (scraping and cauterizing), or at home topicals. For SCCs that go deeper, you’ll probably need surgery. Left untreated, SCCs can grow in place or even spread.

Stasis Dermatitis+

In stasis dermatitis, fluid build-up in the legs causes inflammation. Fluid can build up in the legs if you have varicose veins, circulation issues, heart disease, or have injured your leg in the past. The skin becomes red, discolored, thicker, and easily breaks down into sores.

If you have stasis dermatitis, it’s important to find out if there’s a reason. You might need to have your blood pressure and heart function check. Your doctor might also recommend an ultrasound (Doppler) to check blood flow.

Dermatologists will treat your skin symptoms. Often, they’ll recommend compression hose and leg elevation to lessen the swelling. They might give you a topical to calm the inflammation. If you have open sores, they’ll give you wound care instructions.

Steroid Injections+

Dermatologists give steroid injections (usually triamcinolone or kenalog) for a lot of reasons!

Some common ones are:

  • Cystic pimples steroid injections can bring this down in a day or 2, great before a big even or to lessen the risk of scarring
  • Hair loss due to inflammation traction, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, lichen planopilaris, and frontal fibrosing alopecia
  • Hypertrophic scars and keloids
  • Allergic reactions
  • Other inflammatory skin conditions like discoid lupus, lichen simplex chronicus, and lichen planus
Stretch Marks+

Stretch marks are a type of scar that happens when the skin expands and shrinks too fast. The quick change causes the collagen and elastin support system to break apart. As the skin heals, stretch marks appear.

You’re most likely to get stretch marks in these times:

  • Puberty growth spurt
  • Pregnancy
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Weight training if you build muscle too fast

You can also get stretch marks by using a topical steroid for too long or if you have certain conditions (like Marfan’s or Cushing’s disease). When you first get stretch marks, they might be red, purple, or dark depending on your skin tone. Eventually, the color fades and they sink into the skin.

Dermatologists use procedures, like microneedling or laser, to make stretch marks less noticeable. Unfortunately, there’s no way to erase them.

Syphilis+

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. It’s curable with early treatment. Without treatment, it can cause serious health problems.

You get syphilis by direct contact with a syphilis sore during sex. There are 3 stages, primary, secondary and tertiary. In primary syphilis, you get a painless sore at the site of infection. It lasts for 3-6 weeks and some people never notice it. Symptoms of secondary syphilis start a few weeks later. They include a rash with fever and swollen lymph nodes. The rash can look like rough red and brown patches. You usually see it on the palms and soles. These symptoms will also fade, but the syphilis stays in your body. Tertiary syphilis can happen years later. It is linked to severe medical problems affecting the brain and eyes.

Condoms help but do not fully protect against syphilis. If your doctor thinks you have it, they’ll order a blood test to confirm. Fortunately, syphilis can be easily treated with antibiotics in the early stages. If it’s in the later stages, it can still be treated but the damage done is permanent.
Syphilis can spread from an infected mother to her unborn baby. Without treatment, the infection can be harmful to the baby. For this reason, all pregnant women are tested for syphilis at least once in their pregnancy.

Tinea Versicolor+

Tinea versicolor is a common rash that’s caused by a yeast overgrowth. It’s not an infection because the yeast normally lives on all of our skin. When it grows out of control you get white, brown, or pink scaly patches on the chest, back, arms, or neck.

The yeast that causes tinea versicolor overgrows in:

  • Hot, humid weather
  • Lots of sweating
  • Oily skin
  • If you have a weakened immune system

Dermatologists can diagnose tinea versicolor by examining the skin. If there’s any doubt, they can do a skin scraping to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment is with anti-fungal medicines. Your doctor will also give you tips on how to prevent it from coming back.

Vitiligo+

Vitiligo causes skin to lose its natural color. White patches appear. Some people get just a few while others get it all over. The cause is autoimmune, meaning your immune system attacks the cells that make pigment in your body. Vitiligo isn’t harmful or contagious, but it can have a big impact on self esteem.

Dermatologists diagnose vitiligo by examining the skin. They might use a special light called a Wood’s lamp to be sure. Many people with vitiligo also have thyroid problems. Your doctor might ask you to do a blood test to check this.

Talk to your dermatologist if you want to learn what you can do about vitiligo. Options include camouflage, topical medicines, light therapy, vitamins, and, if all else fails, depigmentation.

Warts+

Warts are non-cancerous growths caused by the human papilloma virus. They’re spread by touching. Warts can happen anywhere on the body. They look bumpy and can have tiny black dots inside.

A dermatologist can identify warts by examining your skin. They can offer several different treatments depending on the wart’s size, location, and number.

Some ways we treat warts are:

  • Cryosurgery liquid nitrogen
  • Cantharidin causes the wart to blister
  • Immunotherapy causes your immune system to react to the wart
  • Electrosurgery uses heat to destroy the wart
  • Surgical removal physically removes the wart
  • Prescription medicines topicals you apply at home
  • Trichloroacetic acid an acid that can help break down a thick wart
I saw Dr. Maryann Mikhail for the first time for my annual body scan. I went to her after checking out reviews. She is the best. Very friendly, personable, easy to talk to and understand. She took her time. I definitely recommend her.
Maria A.