Posts for category: Dermatological Care
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!
What your skin doctors in Pittsburgh want you to know
Your skin provides an important service protecting your vital organs. Your skin also keeps you looking great, it will function best if you take good care of it. Taking care of your skin doesn’t have to take a lot of time out of your day. A few simple steps can help ensure a lifetime of healthy skin. Your board-certified dermatologists at Three Rivers Dermatology Coraopolis, PA and serving Pittsburgh, PA, Dr. Damon McClain and Dr. Susannah McClain, want to help you take good care of your skin.
Daily care of your skin is easy. Just remember to:
- Clean your skin with mild solutions like Dove or Cetaphil. Avoid harsh chemicals and drying soaps.
- Pat, don’t rub your skin. Leave a small amount of moisture on your skin.
- Toners help to balance the pH of your skin, but they aren’t necessary if your cleanser is already pH balanced. Always use alcohol-free toners.
- Apply a daily moisturizer, preferably one with at least SPF 15 sunscreen.
You need to take extra precautions if you are out in the sun. Remember to:
- Always use sunscreen when you go out. SPF 30 or higher is best if you spend a lot of time outside.
- Wear protective clothing including hats and glasses
- Avoid being in the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM.
You also need to take extra precautions during cold weather. Remember to:
- Apply alcohol-free moisturizer frequently. Creams and ointments are best.
- Don’t remain in a hot bath or shower for long periods because it can dry your skin.
- Don’t forget lip balm when you are outside.
Be sure to include regular visits to your dermatologist, especially if you are prone to moles, discolorations, and other skin issues. Your dermatologists in Pittsburgh treat a wide range of skin problems including acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and other common skin conditions.
Take care of your skin so your skin can take care of you. For more information about skin care or to schedule an appointment, call your dermatologists at Three Rivers Dermatology in Coraopolis, PA and serving Pittsburgh, PA. Be kind to your skin and call today!