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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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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GOING THROUGH A ROUGH PATCH?

Those rough patches and small acne-like bumps usually found on the arms, thighs, cheeks, and buttocks may not hurt, but they can be difficult to treat. Keratosis pilaris is an inherited skin condition that arises from a buildup of a hard protein (keratin) that gets trapped around hair follicles. The keratin forms a scaly plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle. Usually many plugs form, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin. The condition often worsens during winter when low humidity dries out skin. While keratosis pilaris improves with age and may go away on its own, temporary relief can be achieved with applications of moisturizer and manual exfoliation, followed by use of alpha-hydroxy-acid lotions.

Keratosis pilaris is a common but harmless skin condition. Except for some itching, keratosis pilaris doesn’t hurt and doesn’t get worse. Many children and teens get it, and it usually disappears as they get older. If you are concerned about your skin, you may want to contact ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at630-832-2111. We strive to provide the highest quality care to our patients.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Certain types of keratosis pilaris involving severe redness and inflammation can be successfully treated with laser therapy.

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