Recently, your friend was diagnosed with shingles. You know her skin was blistered and very painful, and you wonder how it happened. At Three Rivers Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA, your dermatologists, Dr. Damon McClain and Dr. Susannah Berke, accurately diagnose and treat this all too common viral infection, giving patients the relief they deserve. They also educate patients on what to watch for and how to prevent shingles.
Shingles' start in childhood
Remember when you went through chickenpox as a child? You had a fever and uncomfortable pustules all over your body. The illness is caused by the highly contagious varicella-zoster virus. This microbe lies dormant for many years, even decades. Later in life, it can express itself again as shingles.
The symptoms of shingles
When your dermatologists see shingles in their Pittsburgh, PA, office, it usually looks like an angry red, blistering rash on one side of the body. Locations include the face, neck, shoulder, or hip. Accompanying symptoms are itching, fever, chills, and fatigue. The pain from the rash is substantial and can last up to four weeks. Some people experience lingering nerve pain for months to years.
As days go on, the oozing blisters scab over, and the person is no longer contagious. As long as you cover the rash with clothing the chances of transmitting it to others are very low.
Dr. McClain or Dr. Berke typically prescribe an oral antiviral medication to limit the rash and control symptoms. The skin doctor may advise steroidal cream, calamine lotion, or oatmeal baths to increase comfort.
The best treatment for shingles is prevention. If possible, receive the shingles vaccine. Additionally, if you know someone who has shingles or chickenpox, avoid contact with their bodily fluids (saliva, mucus, or active lesions). Practice good hand washing. See your physician at the first signs of an outbreak. Some individuals notice a tingling, burning sensation on their skin before the rash develops.
Also, keep your immune system strong. The elderly, pregnant women, and those who are immunosuppressed due to cancer treatment, HIV infection, or other circumstances develop shingles more easily and have the most complications.
Learn more about shingles
At Three Rivers Dermatology, Dr. McClain and Dr. Berke provide outstanding skincare for patients of all ages. If you'd like more information about shingles, please contact our Pittsburgh office at (412) 262-4911.
Find out how to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.
Overexposure to the sun can cause damage to the skin and can increase your risk for skin cancer. The problem is that its effects aren’t always visible until it’s too late. Our Pittsburgh, PA, dermatologists Drs. Damon McClain and Susannah Berke want every patient to know how to protect their skin and reduce their skin cancer risk by following these helpful and simple rules.
Wear Sunscreen Daily
Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outside. You should also reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately following swimming or sweating. The sunscreen you buy should be a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen (this means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of at least 30.
Stay in the Shade
The sun’s rays are the strongest between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. That means that you are more likely to get sunburned during these hours. While sunscreen can go a long way to protecting your skin, it’s also a good idea to avoid direct sunlight during these hours.
Avoid Tanning Beds
Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer and using tanning beds before age 35 can increase your risk for developing melanoma by 59 percent, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Every time you use a tanning bed your skin cancer risk increases (you don’t even have to get burned in order to increase your risk).
Wear Protective Clothing
While sunscreen is by far the most important thing you can do to protect your skin it’s also a good idea to wear clothing that reduces your exposure, especially if you’re going to be outdoors for a while. Opt for a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and clothing with tightly woven fabrics that sunlight can’t penetrate as easily.
Keep an Eye on Your Skin
To protect your skin from cancers when you’re at risk, you must set aside a few minutes each day to check your skin. Look for moles or growths that are changing shape, color, size, or becoming asymmetrical. Any mole that appears to be bleeding or becomes itchy should be checked by your dermatologist.
Get Skin Cancer Screenings
Even if your risk for skin cancer is rather low everyone can still benefit from visiting their Pittsburgh, PA, skin doctor at least once a year for a thorough skin cancer screening. This exam allows our dermatologist to check every part of your body, from your scalp to between your toes, to look for growths, mole changes or lesions that could be signs of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer.
When was the last time you turned to your dermatologist for a skin cancer screening? If the answer is “never” or if it’s been more than a year then it’s time to call Three Rivers Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA at (412) 262-4911 to schedule your checkup.
How your dermatologists serving Pittsburgh, PA, can help with moles
Moles are caused by melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin. Melanocytes are responsible for skin color, and when they grow together in clumps, it produces a mole. Most people have a few moles, but there are certain times when mole removal becomes necessary, as it may represent a skin cancer.
As Board Certified Dermatologists, Dr. Damon McClain and Dr. Susannah McClain at Three Rivers Dermatology in Coraopolis, PA, can evaluate any concerning moles. They proudly serve residents of Coraopolis and Pittsburgh, PA, and they can help you too.
Signs of a Concerning Mole
Normal moles are typically less than 6 millimeters in diameter, and have well defined borders. You should examine your moles regularly. If you have a mole that has changed shape, color, size, has irregular borders, or has a diameter larger than 6 millimeters, you should visit your dermatologist. These moles may be an early sign of skin cancer, and should be treated as soon as possible.
You should also visit your dermatologist if you have a mole that is itching, burning, oozing, or bleeding. Moles that grow back after they have been previously removed may also need be treated by your dermatologist.
Removing a Mole
If your dermatologist recommends mole removal, there are several methods to remove moles. Your doctor will discuss the options with you and suggest the best treatment for you. Common methods of mole removal include:
- Surgically shaving your mole, which involves numbing the area around and underneath your mole, and cutting underneath and around your mole to remove it. This treatment doesn’t require sutures and is used for smaller moles.
- Surgically excising your mole, which involves numbing the mole and cutting it out with a punch tool or scalpel. This treatment requires sutures and is used for larger moles.
Your dermatologist may recommend a biopsy to determine whether your mole might be cancerous. Remember that early diagnosis and treatment leads to a better outcome.
Mole removal is quick and is performed on an outpatient basis. To find out more about mole removal and additional medical or cosmetic skincare services, call your Coraopolis and Pittsburgh, PA, dermatologists Drs. Damon and Susannah McClain at Three Rivers Dermatology today!
The most common type of cancer in the U.S. is skin cancer. One in five adults will develop some type of skin cancer during their lives, which underscores the importance of being familiar with the common signs of skin cancer. Being able to recognize the signs enables you to seek treatment. Early diagnosis of any type of cancer improves your prognosis and increases the effectiveness of treatment. At Three Rivers Dermatology, Dr. Damon McClain and Dr. Susannah McClain are your dermatologists for the treatment of skin cancer in Pittsburgh, PA.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are many different types of skin cancer. Two of the most common types are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. A third type of skin cancer that many people are familiar with is melanoma. Melanoma is actually the least common type of skin cancer, but can be the most deadly. Sunburns and extensive sun exposure both increase the risk of developing one of these three types of skin cancer. Regular use of tanning beds can increase your risk of developing skin cancer, as well.
Signs of Skin Cancer
There can be many different signs of skin cancer. Depending on the type, the signs might differ. However, any sudden or unexplained change to the skin is a potential concern. If you notice any of the common signs of skin cancer anywhere on your skin, visit a dermatologist to be screened for skin cancer. Some of the comms signs associated with skin cancer include:
- Patches of pink or red scaly lesions
- Unexplained sores that repeatedly re-open after healing
- Changes in the appearance of existing moles
- Sudden bleeding or itching of existing moles
- Waxy and translucent come-shaped growths
- Brown or black streaks under the fingernails or toenails
- Speckled brown spots on the skin
Early detection and treatment of skin cancer is possible when you are able to recognize the common signs and symptoms. For skin cancer screening in Pittsburgh, PA, schedule an exam with Dr. Damon McClain and Dr. Susannah McClain by calling Three Rivers Dermatology at (412) 262-4911.
Acne isn't just unsightly and difficult to hide; it can also pose a threat to your overall health. At Three Rivers Dermatology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we believe in helping our patients achieve beautiful, healthy skin through treatments and education. Dr. Damon McClain and Dr. Susannah McClain are here to define the three forms of acne and explain how we can help you treat it.
Treatments for mild acne
When acne appears as a few scattered blemishes on the surface of your skin, it's usually considered mild. Effective treatment is often dependent on what over-the-counter products work best for you; benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are two common ingredients that reduce oil and clean the pores. Your Pittsburgh dermatologist will examine your skin and talk with you about your medical history to determine the type and strength of products that will help to clear up your skin and prevent breakouts.
Treatments for moderate acne
Breakouts that are more stubborn and widespread than a few blackheads or papules could be diagnosed as moderate acne by your Pittsburgh dermatologist. Inflammation and nodules - painful lumps under the skin - are usually mild or not present. While washing your face is definitely important, OTC products aren't typically effective for treating moderate acne. Instead, you may be prescribed an oral medication in addition to a topical.
Treatments for severe acne
Severe acne is typically extensive, reddened, painful, and may lead to scarring. Working with your Pittsburgh dermatologist is essential to treating severe acne; each patient is different, so a treatment plan will be created for you and must be followed carefully. Often these plans include a combination of oral medication, topical medication, or antibiotics. Avoid picking or squeezing the acne, as it could lead to infection and more scarring.
Several of the acne treatments listed above require regular monitoring from your Pittsburgh dermatologist, so it's important to discuss all your options and goals during your appointment at Three Rivers Dermatology. If you have acne, contact us today for an appointment!
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