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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KEEPING AN EYE ON YOUR SKIN

If you believe that having healthy skin is as important as having healthy teeth, you should visit the dermatologist at least as often as you visit the dentist. That is to say that even people with a low risk of developing skin cancer should visit the dermatologist once a year. If you have a history of cancer or are in a high-risk group, the number of visits to the dermatologist should be tailored to your needs. Factors that raise skin cancer risk and make it necessary to visit the dermatologist more often (such as every four to six months) include being fair-skinned, having one or more childhood sunburns, advanced age, and having many moles or precancerous skin lesions (“actinic keratoses”).

Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment of skin cancers, including melanoma. A dermatologist can use a dermatoscope to magnify areas of the skin so that pigmentation and structure can be examined. Questionable areas may be treated or partially removed for biopsy at a lab. A board-certified dermatologist at ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY can perform your whole-body skin scans on a regular basis and track any changes observed from visit to visit. Call 630-832-2111 to schedule an appointment at our office located at 103 N. Haven, Suite 7. New patients are always welcome. We strive to provide the highest quality care to our patients.

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

P.S. Actinic keratoses (also called “sun spots”) are scaly pink or brown patches that most often develop on the arms, face, and hands of fair-skinned individuals as a result of sun exposure.

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HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

If you are concerned enough about the health of your skin to regularly apply sunscreen, be sure that you use enough. With this in mind, make sure that you use at least nine teaspoons of sunscreen when you go to the beach or partake in other outdoor activities that require head-to-toe coverage. This formula entails using at least one teaspoon of sunscreen to cover your face, head, and neck (and ears); two teaspoons for your front and back torso; one teaspoon for each arm (forearm and hand, too); and two teaspoons for each thigh, leg, and foot. If you are using a spray-on sunscreen product, be sure that all skin surfaces have a glossy coating.

Despite your most diligent efforts in applying broad-spectrum sunscreen, you can’t completely protect your skin from invisible damage and age-related spotting. It is important to have whole-body screenings done annually by an accredited dermatologist. The skilled doctors at ELMHURST DERMATOLOGYcan diagnose existing or potential skin problems. Call us at 630-832-2111 to make an appointment at our well-equippedoffice located at 103 N. Haven, Suite 7. New patients are alwayswelcome. We strive to provide the highest quality care to our patients.

 

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

P.S. Broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 is the minimum protection recommended by dermatologists.

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NO NEW WRINKLE

Of all the skin products that promise to reduce wrinkles, only prescription creams with retinoic acid (tretinoin) can do just that. This active derivative of vitamin A can help diminish fine lines and coarse wrinkling as well as lighten brown spots. It works by making the outermost layer of dead skin cells thinner while making the living, inner layers of the epidermis thicker, thereby reversing the effects that come with sun damage. In addition, retinoic acid redistributes the melanocytes (skin cells that synthesize the pigment melanin) to correct blotchy dark spots. It also inhibits enzymes that are involved in breaking down collagen (the protein that gives skin its tight, youthful appearance) so that the skin remains younger-looking.

Retinoic acid is one of a number of methods your dermatologist may offer to improve the appearance of your skin. Following an examination, your dermatologist will suggest the procedure or treatment method best for your situation. For professional medical and aesthetic care for your skin, contact ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111. Our office is conveniently located at 103 N. Haven Suite 7. We are accepting new patients and most insurance plans are accepted. We strive to provide the highest care to our patients.

 

Todd T. Davis,
MD Board-Certified Dermatologist

 

P.S. Although retinol, the active ingredient in many over-the-counter anti-wrinkle skin creams, can also improve lines and discoloration, it is less potent than prescribed retinoic-acid creams.

DERMATOLOGY

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SUNSCREEN’S APPEAL TO VANITY

If concerns about developing skin cancer are not enough to get you to wear sunscreen, maybe an appeal to your vanity will. According to the first rigorous study of its kind, researchers found that year-round use of sunscreen delays aging of the skin caused by exposure to ultraviolet-light (UV) rays. While this finding may not come as a surprise to many, it is the first piece of research that lends scientific proof to the notion that use of broad-spectrum sunscreen (which protects against both UVB and UVA rays) slows the aging effect of UV rays on the skin. The sunscreen used for the study had a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. The UV protection provided by sunscreen is multi-faceted.

As the body’s largest organ, your skin works constantly to protect the organs, regulate body temperature, and it reflects your overall health. If you notice or experience any changes to your skin, it’s best to see a dermatologist. Our goal is to provide only the highest quality, compassionate care for patients that need dermatologic care. For more information, call ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111. Our office is conveniently located at 103 N. Haven Suite. We are accepting new patients. We strive to provide the highest care to our patients.

 

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board-Certified Dermatologist

to the study mentioned above, adults who used sunscreen daily were 24% less likely to show increased aging regardless of sex, age, skin color, occupation, skin cancer history, weight, and smoking.

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EARLY ANTIBIOTIC USE RAISES ECZEMA RISK

According to a recent review of previous studies, children who took antibiotics during their first year of life were found to have about a 40 percent greater likelihood of developing eczema. However, researchers found no evidence that antibiotics taken by mothers during pregnancy raised the risk of developing the itchy skin disorder. Eczema is especially common among children, with between 10 and 20 percent experiencing symptoms of the disease. More than half of them continue to have symptoms into adulthood. It is thought that antibiotic use during the first year of life predisposes children to developing the skin disease since antibiotics eliminate intestinal microbes that play an important role in the immune system’s development after birth.

Your dermatologist is an excellent resource for questions about skin care at all stages of life. At our practice, we have advanced training and experience to detect and treat virtually any skin problem, including suspicious moles, eczema, acne, and more. For professional medical care for your skin, contact ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111. Our office is conveniently located at 103 N. Haven Suite. We are accepting new patients and most insurance plans are accepted. We strive to provide the highest care to our patients.

 

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board-Certified Dermatologist

 

P.S. According to the study mentioned above, the more antibiotics a child under the age of one year took, the more his or her risk of developing eczema increased.

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ONCE BURNED, TWICE SHY?

The American Cancer Society reports that about 76,690 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the United States this year, and nearly 9,500 people are expected to die of the disease. Hearing these statistics, one might think that melanoma survivors would do everything they could not to become a member of the latter group. Yet, dermatologists are dismayed by new research showing that more than one melanoma survivor in four (27.3%) admitted to never wearing sunscreen when they go outdoors on a warm, sunny day for more than one hour. They do so in spite of the fact that the risk of a second primary melanoma is nine times greater among survivors than the risk of melanoma in the general population.

The warning signs of skin cancer may include changes in the surface of a mole, scales, bleeding, as well as tenderness, itchiness and pain. If you have any signs to suggest a skin disease, see a medical specialist. If you do not have a dermatologist at this time, we are accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111. Our office is conveniently located at 103 N. Haven Suite. We are accepting new patients. We strive to provide the highest care to our patients.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Just as some smokers continue smoking after a lung-cancer diagnosis, melanoma survivors may continue to expose themselves to UV radiation (the primary cause of melanoma) because they are addicted to sun exposure.

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PICK YOUR POISON (PLANT)

Nearly all of us are advised as children to avoid poison ivy and poison oak plants, exposure to which can cause blistering, itchy rashes. Contact with a secretion of allergenic oil or sap triggers an allergic reaction in the skin known as “allergic contact dermatitis,” which can appear within two to ten days of exposure. While poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are most recognized as causing this problem, there are other plants with the same potential. These include flowers such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, poinsettias, and philodendrons, as well as the leaves of tomato plants. While the allergic reaction will usually resolve within ten days, the dermatologist can prescribe topical steroids to help with the itching and burning sensations.

Skin allergies can take several forms and are due to various causes. If you think you may have a skin allergy, seek medical advice for diagnosis and treatment. For additional information about today’s column, call ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111. We provide all full breadth of dermatological services and most insurance plans are accepted. Our office is conveniently located at 103 N. Haven Suite. We are accepting new patients. We strive to provide the highest care to our patients.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist

P.S. If you wash immediately with soap and water, it is possible to rid yourself of the oil of poisonous plants. After 10-15 minutes, half of the oil will come off; after an hour, none will come off.

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NEW HELP IN DEALING WITH ROUGH PATCHES

It is estimated that 58 million Americans have “actinic keratoses,” those small rough patches of skin that develop due to repeated exposure to the sun’s rays. Because these pea-sized, scaly lesions can develop into skin cancer, patients often turn to dermatologists to remove them  by freezing them, scraping them, applying chemical peels, or using medicated creams (sometimes for weeks). Now, a new treatment has been developed, known as “photodynamic therapy” (PDT). This treatment involves applying medicine to the skin that is only absorbed by problem cells. When a special light is then shone onto the skin, the actinic keratoses are destroyed. PDT works best for treating hard-to-detect actinic keratoses. It has minimal side effects.

If you spend a lot of time in the sun, you have an increased risk of developing actinic keratoses, certain types of skin cancer and various other skin problems. To reduce the risk of these conditions, always wear a broad spectrum sun screen with a sun protection factor (SPF), avoid mid-day sun (between 11 am and 3 pm) and wear protective clothing, such as a hat and long sleeve t-shirts. For more information, call ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111. Our office is conveniently located at 103 N. Haven Suite. We are accepting new patients. We strive to provide the highest care to our patients.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board-Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Another good treatment for eliminating actinic keratoses is a topical cream known as imiquimod (Aldara), which requires fewer applications than other creams and has milder side effects.

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THE COMMON PROBLEM OF DRY, ITCHY SKIN

Older adults are more likely to develop “xerosis” (very dry skin) that leads to “pruritus” (itchy skin), one of the most common skin complaints among seniors. Without treatment, dry skin can lead to a vicious cycle of itching and scratching that can cause “lichenification” (hardened, thickened patches of leathery skin). Preventing dry skin largely consists of adding moisture and sealing it in while avoiding products that strip the skin of its natural oils. To this end, limit showers and baths to 5-10 minutes, and use warm water (not hot). After gently drying the skin, apply emollient (moisturizer) within three minutes to seal moisture in. Moisturizers containing lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerine, lanolin, mineral oil, and petroleum jelly are best.

As the body’s largest organ, your skin works constantly to protect the organs, regulate body temperature, and it reflects your overall health. If you notice or experience any changes to your skin, it’s best to see a dermatologist.  Our goal is to provide only the highest quality, compassionate care for patients that need dermatologic care. For more information, call ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111. We provide all full breadth of dermatological services and most insurance plans are accepted.  Our office is conveniently located at 103 N. Haven Suite. We are accepting new patients. We strive to provide the highest care to our patients.

Todd T. Davis, MD
Board-Certified Dermatologist

P.S. If a simple at-home regimen of skin moisturizing doesn’t stop skin dryness and itching from leading to breaks and cracks in the skin, the dermatologist can prescribe a cream or an ointment.

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