Author Archives: elmderm

DO ANTIOXIDANTS EXACERBATE MELANOMA?

As a general matter, antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, and supplements are considered to be beneficial to health. These compounds (including vitamins A, C, and E, and beta-carotene, selenium, lutein, and lycopene) help prevent cell damage in the body by neutralizing the effects of highly reactive “free radicals” produced by oxidation. However, past research suggests that antioxidants may promote lung cancer, and more recent investigation indicates that free radicals may actually double the rate of melanoma metastasis. Unlike the lung-cancer studies, antioxidants did not affect the primary tumor. Instead, the antioxidant boosted the ability of the tumor cells to metastasize, which is a serious problem because metastatic melanoma is typically not curable with surgery.

Prior to adding supplements to your regular diet, be sure to consult with a medical professional. Some vitamins should be taken in restricted amounts subject to your health and medications you may be taking. When it comes to your skin, we are here to provide you with the best professional advice available.  It is never too early to address the condition of your skin. We look forward to assisting you.

Todd T. Davis, M.D.
Board-Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Research involving antioxidants and melanoma (the most dangerous form of skin cancer) is now focusing on the question as to whether beta-carotene, vitamin E, and other antioxidants in sunscreens and suntan lotions might pose a metastasis risk as well.

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SOME GOOD NEWS

While it has been widely reported that the incidence of melanoma (the most aggressive form of skin cancer) among U.S. adults has increased over the past four decades, pediatric melanoma has been on the decline. Researchers found that, over a recent six-year period, the number of new cases of melanoma in children has decreased by 12%. It was also found that treatable melanomas on the trunk and upper extremities of children were increasingly being detected when they were most treatable. This downturn in cases of pediatric melanoma at the same time the adult cases of melanoma are on the rise indicates that parents are getting the message to protect their children’s skin from the sun’s potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

These days, more attention is being given to protecting young children’s skin against the harmful rays of the sun. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and preventive measures help ensure that it remains as healthy and cancer-free as possible. Regular checkups are important. To schedule an appointment, please call Elmhurst Dermatology at (630) 832-2111.

Todd T. Davis, M.D.
Board-Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Pediatric melanoma is rare (five to six children per million), but the effects of excessive UV-ray exposure are cumulative and pose even a greater threat when exposure begins  at an early age.

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INK’S STAINING REPUTATION

While we hear that those with tattoos may someday come to regret their decisions to get “inked,” less is known about more immediate concerns over medical complications. According to one survey of about 300 adults between the ages of 18 and 69, ten percent of the respondents experienced some form of short-term complication within weeks of getting a tattoo. These complications included rashes, swelling, and severe itching lasting longer than four months and up to several years. While the exact cause of these problems is difficult to pinpoint, researchers noted that long-term complications often occurred around the areas injected with red and black ink. Further research may help establish what ink colors and possible dye components lead to adverse reactions.

The lack of controls dictating what substances can be used to create tattoo ink has resulted in formulas that may cause mild to severe reactions in certain individuals. Should you be experiencing a reaction to tattoo ink, contact Elmhurst Dermatology at (630) 832-2111.

Todd T. Davis, M.D.
Board-Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Most reactions to tattoos can be treated with anti-inflammatory steroid drugs and, in some cases, surgery.

 

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HIVES WITH NO IDENTIFIABLE CAUSE

“Chronic idiopathic urticaria” is the medical term for hives that appear on the skin for no readily identifiable reason. When these itching, burning, painful skin rashes appear daily over prolonged periods, it can lead sufferers to become demoralized. While most cases of “acute urticaria” lasting less than six weeks seemed to be triggered by an allergic reaction, longer-lasting chronic idiopathic urticaria is seldom due to an allergy. In approximately one-third of cases, an autoimmune reaction may underlie the condition. In the absence of any identifiable cause to treat, chronic hive sufferers should avoid harsh soaps as well as any known triggers. In the meantime, the dermatologist can prescribe a number of medications, ranging from antihistamines to anti-inflammation drugs.

Some chronic urticaria sufferers have other signs of autoimmune problems. Some have autoimmune thyroid disease, vitiligo, swollen joints, or certain abnormalities in the blood. When you have any dermatological problem, please call Elmhurst Dermatology at 630-832-2111.

Todd T. Davis, M.D.
Board-Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Research shows that the injectable drug omalizumab (Xolair) is very effective against difficult-to-treat chronic hives  without side effects.

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THOSE RAISED BROWN BUMPS

Older adults may grow alarmed when they see a wart-like skin growth that looks like it may be skin cancer. While this common skin growth may look worrisome, it is benign. In fact, “seborrheic keratosis” can look like warts, moles, actinic keratoses, and skin cancer, but they are differentiated by their characteristic waxy, “pasted-on-the-skin” appearance. Ranging in color from white to black, most are tan or brown and look like a dab of warm, brown candle wax on the skin. They start as small, rough bumps that slowly thicken and develop a warty appearance. If they become irritated (due to rubbing against jewelry or clothing), or patients deem them to be unsightly, the dermatologist can remove seborrheic keratoses.

Seborrheic keratoses are common and generally increase in number with age. They tend to run in some families. Seborrheic keratoses don’t become cancerous, but they can look like skin cancer. When you have any dermatological problem, please call ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY for an appointment. Medical, surgical, and cosmetic options are all addressed with careful, researched approaches as we make every effort to provide optimal outcomes.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board-Certified Dermatologist

P.S. If a seborrheic keratosis is difficult to distinguish from skin cancer, the dermatologist will likely have it biopsied.

 

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ADULT ACNE

Acne may be an adolescent affliction, but it also affects many adults, particularly women. In some cases, adolescent acne may not disappear completely (“persistent acne”). Otherwise, acne may develop for the first time in adulthood (“late onset acne”). The problem largely rests with the glands at the base of hair follicles secreting too much oil (“sebum”) as a flood of androgen hormones fuel oil secretion. When combined with excess amounts of dead skin cells, the mixture can clog the follicles, causing whiteheads and blackheads. Adult women may be especially susceptible to adult acne when hormones related to menstruation and pregnancy prompt excess oil secretion. Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause can also prompt acne. Proper treatment starts with a medical evaluation.

Today there are many effective treatments for acne. This doesn’t mean that every acne treatment works for everyone, but it does mean that almost every case of acne can be controlled. By using medications correctly and consistently, patients can prevent new acne pimples from forming. If you are concerned about your skin, please call Elmhurst Dermatology at 630-832-2111.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Genetics, climate, cosmetics and skin care products, certain medications, emotional stress, and lack of sleep may contribute to acne.

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HARDENING OF THE SKIN

The chronic connective tissue disease known as “scleroderma” is derived from the two Greek words “sclero,” meaning hard, and “derma,” meaning skin. Generally classified as an autoimmune rheumatic disease, scleroderma is not contagious, infectious, cancerous, or malignant. Research thus far only indicates that the disease is not necessarily genetic (although there is a susceptibility gene) and that it involves an overproduction of collagen. In some cases, the disease affects only the skin, but it also can involve important structures such as blood vessels, internal organs, and the digestive tract. Women are affected more commonly than men, and the disease usually occurs between ages 30 and 50. A variety of treatments are available for symptoms, but there is no cure.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist

P.S. One of the earliest signs of scleroderma is an exaggerated response to cold temperatures that causes numbness, color changes, or pain in the fingers and toes.

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STARTING FROM SCRATCH

We all know that scratching provides temporary relief from itchy skin by creating a mild sense of pain that nerve cells transmit to the brain instead of itch signals. The problem is, particularly among those with chronic itching problems, scratching often leads to a vicious cycle of more itching and scratching. Recent research has led to new insight into this phenomenon, which could lead to better treatments. It seems that scratching causes the brain to release the pain-relieving hormone serotonin, which also targets cells that control itch intensity, further increasing the impulse to scratch. New research may lead to ways of blocking communication between serotonin and itch-transmitting cells, hopefully leading to new itch treatments.
See a dermatologist if itchy skin lasts more than two weeks and doesn’t improve with self-care measures. If you are concerned about your skin, please contact ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist

P.S. The best way to deal with chronic itching involves having the dermatologist identify its cause and treat it accordingly.

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LIP SERVICE

Unlike other parts of the skin, lips do not contain oil glands, so they are a great deal more susceptible to drying out and chapping (cracking). While this may be an occasional problem for most people, some may develop “cheilitis,” which is a more severe form of chapped lips. Characterized by cracked skin at the corners of the lips, cheilitis can be caused by an infection. The condition may produce ulcers and white plaques on the surface of the lips, which may be lumpy and appear dark pink or red. These symptoms often do not respond to self-help measures and require medical treatment from a dermatologist. Cheilitis is most common in patients over the age of 59.
Chelitis may progress to more widespread impetigo or candidal skin infection on the adjacent skin and elsewhere. If you are concerned about your skin, you may want to contact ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY. Please call 630-832-2111 to schedule an appointment at our office located at 103 N. Haven, Suite 7.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Dental trauma and excessive saliva production may transform a regular case of chapped lips into cheilitis.

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CONTAGIOUS CHILDHOOD SKIN INFECTION

The highly contagious skin infection known as “impetigo,” which primarily affects infants and children, is caused by streptococcal or staphylococcal bacteria, or both. The infection produces symptoms of red sores, often on the face, especially around a child’s nose and mouth. The condition starts as tiny, barely perceptible blisters on the skin, usually at the site of a skin abrasion, scratch, or insect bite. The sores then burst and develop honey-colored crusts. Because impetigo spreads through contact and may spread quickly to other children, it should be treated immediately. Impetigo may clear on its own in two to three weeks, but antibiotics can shorten the course of the disease and help prevent the spread to others.

When properly treated, the lesions of impetigo heal with little to no scarring. Prompt, effective treatment also diminishes the chances of serious secondary complications that could affect the kidneys, joints, bones, and lungs. When you have any dermatological problem, you may call ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111. We strive to provide the highest quality care to our patients.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist

P.S. While impetigo typically is not dangerous, potential complications include kidney problems.

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