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Sweat No More

Published May 26th, 2015

It's hotter than all Hades outside: 90 degrees out!  How many of us have ruined shirts because of excessive sweating under arms?  Does your outfit choice depend on which shirt is going to show the stains least?

When antiperspirants and topical products don't do enough to curb the sweating, it's time to visit the dermatologist to discuss Botox.  Yes, the line smoothing treatment is FDA-approved to treat axillary hyperhidrosis, or excessive underarm sweating.  Botox works by blocking the release of a chemical called acetylcholine from the nerve, which is involved in sweating.  It is also used off-label (not FDA-approved) to treat sweating of the hands and feet.     

The treatment is simple and very well tolerated: numbing cream is applied to the underarms, and Dr. Bilu Martin injects Botox with a very tiny needle.  It takes a week for results, which then last about 6 months. 

Raise your arms and cheer- without worrying about sweat spots! 

Holy Mole-y

Published May 23rd, 2015

Most people have moles.  Usually, they look like small, symmetric, round flat or raised spots that are uniform in color.  These tend to be normal moles (also called nevi).

But some people have moles that are a little bit different looking.  The moles may exhibit what are known as the ABCD's.  This stands for:

A: asymmetry - when you draw a line down the middle of the mole, the sides do not match

B: border - the mole is not round; it has an irregular, jagged outline

C: color - there are different shades of brown, tan, black, red in the mole

D: diameter - the mole is larger than 6 mm, the size of a pencil eraser (although they can be smaller)

These moles go by a different name.  They are called dysplastic, or atypical, or Clark's nevi.  These moles themselves are benign.  However, people that have them are at increased risk of developing melanoma, which is the most worrisome type of skin cancer.  The more dysplastic nevi someone has, the higher their risk of developing melanoma is. 

So what does this mean?

People with dysplastic moles need to be seen more frequently by their dermatologist for full skin exams.  They (and everyone else) also need to check their moles for:

E: evolution - the mole is changing - size, color, shape, itching, bleeding, turning black, etc.

This could be a sign of a melanoma and needs to be evaluated right away. 

Remember to practice safe sun: wear sunscreen, seek the shade, do not tan outdoors or in tanning booths, and wear sun protective clothing.

Keep it simple

Published May 18th, 2015

Sometimes the simpler the better!

1. Soaking toenails in a mix of white vinegar and water can help improve nail fungus.

2. Duct tape can help warts disappear.

3. Crisco is a great skin moisturizer -especially for those with eczema.

4. Olive oil heals ragged cuticles.

5. Pressure stops bleeding.

6. Vaseline and a band aid heal wounds.

7. And the key to looking young? Sunscreen!

Oh- and laughing often, breathing, eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, using a retinoid cream (not if pregnant or nursing), drinking water, exercising, and not sweating the small stuff. And sunscreen!

One less word: melanoma

Published May 4th, 2015

I love my job as a dermatologist.  But there is nothing I love about having to tell someone that they have melanoma.  Despite the good prognosis when caught early, melanoma is a word that no one wants to hear. 

So wouldn't it be great if no one had to hear it?

It's really important to realize that that IF melanoma is caught and treated early, it can be nearly 100% curable.  When a melanoma is in situ (stage 0), it means that the melanoma is in the very very top layer of the skin and has not penetrated deeply.  It is then removed surgically in the office under local anesthesia.  Even melanomas that go a little bit deeper in the skin (stage 1, 2) often have a good prognosis and are treated with surgical excision.  Melanomas that measure deeper need more testing (in addition to the surgical removal), such as lymph node testing and imaging.  If a melanoma is deeper than that, then it is considered advanced and chemotherapy is added to the treatment regimen. 

Early detection is the KEY.  Any new, changing, itchy, bleeding, crusting mole needs to be evaluated asap by a dermatologist.  Don't wait to see your doctor.  With melanoma, the depth is the greatest predictor of survival.  The earlier it is detected, the better.  But once someone is diagnosed with melanoma, they have an increased risk of developing another one.  And close monitoring by a dermatologist is needed for the rest of their life. 

While genetics definitely plays a role in the development of melanoma, what is done on a daily basis makes a difference.  Of course, sunburns are a big no no, which I think pretty much everyone knows.  But any tan is a sign of sun damage, which increases the risk for melanoma.  DON'T TAN - either in the salon or outdoors.   According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, indoor UV tanners are 74% more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than those who have never tanned indoors.   "Oh, don't worry, Doc, my skin is naturally tanned."  Really?  Take a look at your buttocks.  That is your real skin color.  Still think you're naturally tanned?  Slather on a physical blocker, at least an SPF 30, and reapply.  Avoid the sun between 10 am - 4 pm, when the rays are strongest.  Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sun protective clothing.  Stay in the shade.  And teach your kids to do the same. 

May is Melanoma Awareness month. Do yourself a favor and have your skin examined by a dermatologist.  Encourage your friends and family to do the same.  And let's make that word go away.

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