Understanding Facial Mole Removal

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Doctor checking a mole on a woman's face.

Facial moles can be frustrating—and at times, uncomfortable. Due to their prominent physical location, it is common for our patients to want to remove them. For individuals who hope to remove their facial moles, whether for cosmetic or medical reasons, it is important to seek out an experienced, board-certified dermatologist who can effectively and safely remove the mole while minimizing scarring risks and discomfort. While there are some devices on the market that claim they can work to remove moles and other skin blemishes at home, they can lead to potentially harmful side effects and unintended consequences. 

How Are Facial Moles Removed?

Moles are removed through two primary procedures: shave excision and surgical excision. Shave excision uses a thin, razor-like tool to slice away the mole and then a tiny electrode is used to minimize the appearance of the excision. Stitches are not needed following this procedure. Surgical excision is a deeper surgery during which your dermatologist cuts out the entire mole and the fat layer under the mole before using stitches to close the excision. Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting utilizes Mohs Surgery, a microscopically guided, highly specialized procedure that provides the most accurate removal of moles and skin cancer in cosmetically sensitive areas.

What to Expect from Facial Mole Removal

Facial mole removal is an outpatient procedure performed in the comfort of our office. The procedure begins with a local anesthetic which is used to numb the site of the mole. The mole is then removed, a procedure which takes about 15 to 20 minutes and the repair process for the wound will depend on the size of the incision. For smaller moles on the face, sometimes it is best to allow the wound to heal on its own. Sometimes, a few small stitches are needed.  

After facial mole removal, the size and shape of the wound will depend on the size of the mole that was removed. The potential risk for scarring also depends on the location of the mole and its size. A small mole near the nose, for example, might mean the incision site is easily camouflaged by surrounding tissue. Even if the incision is in a visible location, there are several strategies that can prevent or reduce the appearance of scars.

Facial Mole Removal Precautions

As with any surgical area, it is important to protect the skin as it heals. This includes taking precautions to protect against sun damage and stretching the scar, as well as other strategies, including:

Keeping the Incision Moist and Clean

As you take care of the incision site, it is important to keep the area clean and moisturized. This not only improves healing time, but also decreases the likelihood of a noticeable scar. Dry wounds, on the other hand, are less likely to fade away. It is important to follow your doctor’s guidance, which may include using a moisturizing ointment under a bandage or another topical treatment as your incision heals.

Minimizing Stretching of the Scar

Minimizing movement of the healing area not only promotes healing, but can also minimize the size and appearance of a scar. A lot of movement or stretching of the area can lead to increased healing time or a larger scar. The ultimate goal is to allow the healing area the ability to rest and heal on its own.

Avoiding the Sun

Just as the sun can damage healthy skin, the sun can also negatively impact a fresh wound or healing skin. Sun exposure and sun damage can darken and discolor healing skin, resulting in a more prominent scar. To minimize exposure, it is important to utilize a strong sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher to cover the healing area when possible. This should be done for at least six months after your facial mole removal. 

Massaging the Scar

A few weeks after the initial surgery, once any scabs have naturally dissipated, massaging the area of the scar can help reinvigorate the skin. This promotes collagen production and encourages collagen to rise to the skin surface, thereby reducing the appearance of any scars.

Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are treatments that utilize hormones to reduce inflammation and they can be used to reduce the size and appearance of persistent scars, especially those that are raised.

Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery is a treatment that works to freeze and destroy scar tissue, thereby reducing the size and appearance of the scar. This is typically utilized for larger scars, but if a persistent scar is concerning, it is important to discuss those concerns with your dermatologist.


As with all treatment options and surgeries, an open, honest conversation with your dermatologist can not only help you reach your goals, but also work to improve results. 

We understand how bothersome facial moles can negatively impact your quality of life. Rather than continuing trying to cover or hide your facial mole, contact us today for an appointment. We can discuss a personalized facial mole removal plan based on your unique anatomy and schedule your mole removal procedure as soon as possible. 

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How Long After Laser Tattoo Removal Will My Tattoo Fade?

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Doctor removing a tattoo

Laser tattoo removal is a specialized procedure that utilizes quick pulsing energy to target tattoo pigments and triggers the skin to release these pigments. Upon release, the skin naturally reabsorbs these pigments and disposes of them. Because the treatment targets the pigments and not surrounding skin, it can produce astounding results without scarring. In fact, most patients only experience a few hours of pink, sensitive skin after treatment. 

Understanding Laser Tattoo Removal

Before we discuss the aftereffects of laser tattoo removal, it is important to first understand how laser tattoo removal works. Every individual’s laser tattoo removal process is unique and the length of treatment and number of sessions will depend on the depth of pigment, tattoo color and size of the tattoo. To produce the best results, it is important to allow the skin time to heal between treatments and to allow the body’s immune system to reabsorb and dispose of the tattoo inks. Most practitioners recommend about six to eight weeks between laser sessions, depending on skin tone. 

The Technology of Laser Tattoo Removal

Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting is a premier choice for laser tattoo removal in the tri-county area as we are the only dermatology group to utilize the cutting edge Discovery Pico laser. This laser combines Q-Switched and Pico, two effective laser tattoo removal technologies, that can target tattoos of any color and at any skin depth. Combining these laser actions into one treatment allows for faster and more effective removal of tattoos.

The Discovery Pico laser is the most powerful device on the market and uses three wavelengths that penetrate the skin to shatter inks and pigmentations while leaving surrounding tissues unharmed. Through shorter pulse durations and a high peak power, it is also able to effectively reach even the deepest skin pigment.

What to Expect During Laser Tattoo Removal 

Each tattoo removal process begins with a consultation to determine the length and number of treatments needed to fade and remove your tattoo. Treatment plans can be customized to meet your needs and schedules, and most patients can expect minimal downtime. During treatment, a topical anesthetic will be applied to numb the treatment area. Most patients describe the feeling of treatment as similar to tiny hot dots on the skin and this warmth is combated by a stream of cold air that is produced by the treatment device. 

What to Expect After Laser Tattoo Removal

As a result of the revolutionary Discovery Pico laser, patients can expect to be blown away by the results of their tattoo removal, especially because Discovery Pico can work to remove tattoos that otherwise are seen as poor candidates for treatment or removal. Following treatment, a temporary reaction known as “frosting” is common. This reaction is best described as a steam buildup under the skin which occurs as your skin reacts to the heat energy produced by the Discovery Pico laser. It subsides within the hour following treatment. Depending on the skin type and inks used in a tattoo, temporary crusting and blistering may occur after laser tattoo removal. Tattoos will begin to fade within the first two to three weeks after treatment.

Individual Response Can Vary

It is important to understand that each individual’s response to laser tattoo removal is different, just as each tattoo is different. Laser tattoo removal is a process that relies on the body eliminating ink from the skin which can take some time to process. While results will become apparent within a few weeks, it is not unusual for the body to take more than a year to completely eliminate ink.

For more information on how to remove tattoos and improve your skin, schedule an appointment at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting to develop a customized plan.

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What is Microneedling?

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Woman touching her face.

With skin being the body’s largest organ, it makes sense that we should all seek to care for it and strive to retain a youthful, glowing appearance. As we become older, however, our skin can naturally begin to lose its elasticity, develop fine lines and show some signs of damage that are indicators of time passing. For individuals seeking to combat these changes and work to reverse mild to moderate signs of aging, microneedling has emerged as a popular treatment as it offers impressive results without the need for invasive surgery or extensive downtime.

Traditional Microneedling vs. RF Microneedling

Traditionally, microneedling has been a procedure that utilizes a special device that creates tiny, microscopic punctures in the skin with dozens of ultrafine needles. This treatment has continued to develop and evolve as technology has advanced. The latest microneedling treatments harness the energy of radiofrequency wavelengths to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, smooth skin, combat acne scars and more. 

How Traditional Microneedling Works

When microneedling first arose as a treatment, it took place with the use of a specialized device that is rolled over the skin. This device would create tiny, microscopic punctures along the skin known as micro injuries-in order to stimulate the skin’s natural healing process. In the face of these micro injuries, the skin naturally responds with some increased production of collagen and elastin, which are naturally occurring enzymes that improve skin’s elasticity and overall appearance. These growth factors also work to thicken the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, acne scars, sun damage and stretch marks. The micro injuries delivered by microneedling have also been used to enhance the delivery of topical treatments, such as hyaluronic acid. 

How RF Microneedling Works

While traditional microneedling can still be an effective option, the advancement of technology has opened doors to new options for skin care and treatment. Radiofrequency (RF) microneedling adds the power of radiofrequency energy to traditional microneedling treatment in order to further stimulate the body and skin’s natural healing response.

In RF microneedling, a handheld device equipped with special “energized” needles creates micro punctures across the skin’s surface, enabling the energy emitted by the device to penetrate lower levels of the skin. The addition of RF energy amplifies the skin’s production of skin improving proteins and enzymes such as collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid; leading to faster results and greater impact than traditional microneedling alone. The heating of lower layers of skin also further enhances skin tightening, as it increases lower levels of collagen that then rise to the surface.

What Makes RF Microneedling Superior?

Both traditional and RF microneedling work to improve the skin’s appearance and texture by reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and stretch marks; minimizing acne scars or age spots and tightening and toning skin. As a result of the combined efforts of energized needles and 

radiofrequency energy, RF microneedling provides superior smoothing of wrinkles, addresses deeper levels of skin and offers a better, more effective treatment option for acne scars. This treatment is also more customizable as the handheld microneedling platform can be adjusted to specific treatment areas and patient needs.

The Next Generation of RF Microneedling

Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting proudly offers RF microneedling through VirtueRF, the next generation of RF microneedling. This device is a new and upgraded model of Vivace microneedling with added features to increase patient comfort and allow dermatologists to deliver more energy into the skin. VirtueRF offers the ability to use multiple handpieces for various applications while offering versatility, enhanced ergonomic safety and treatment delivery features. 

VirtueRF also helps to create gorgeous, glowing skin with minimal discomfort and downtime. Following treatment, some warmth and tenderness at the treatment area is common, but this typically resolves in 24 hours. After 24 hours have passed, makeup can be applied and day-to-day activities can be resumed almost immediately. The only recommendation is to avoid strenuous activities during the first 48-72 hours after treatment and to avoid long showers or baths in order to keep skin vessels closed and improve the efficacy of the treatment.  

Are you interested in leveraging the power of RF microneedling for the health of your skin? Contact us today to learn more about this innovative technology that can have you looking younger, faster. 

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What is the Difference Between Plaque Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis?

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Man itching his wrist.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that manifests as a chronic skin condition. Psoriasis can lead to the development of plaques, which are patches of scaly, red or white skin. Many individuals with psoriasis are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, which is a condition with similar causes that results in joint pain, stiffness and swelling..

Both plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis develop as a result of an autoimmune disorder, which is when the immune system attacks the body, leading to inflammation and/or pain. While psoriasis and skin symptoms typically develop before psoriatic arthritis, there are some cases in which arthritis develops months or even years before skin symptoms appear. In addition to a link to the immune system, doctors believe there is a link between more severe cases of psoriasis and the development of psoriatic arthritis. Additionally, many people with psoriatic arthritis have a parent or sibling with the disease. It most commonly occurs in adults between the ages of 30 and 50. 

The main differences between these conditions include location and lasting impact of symptoms. Even when an individual experiences skin plaques and arthritis as a result of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, they can take place in different locations. For example, an individual may have joint swelling in their feet as a result of psoriatic arthritis but will not see plaques develop in that area. Additionally, while psoriasis does not leave scarring or lasting harm, psoriatic arthritis can permanently damage joints, leaving them stiff or deformed. This is why it is important to discuss symptoms and concerns with your board-certified dermatologist to head off any lasting effects.

Understanding Psoriasis and Predisposition

While we know psoriasis is caused by the immune system, the exact cause is not known. The same can be said for psoriatic arthritis. Statistically, about 40 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis have relatives with psoriatic arthritis or with psoriasis, but scientists do not know what genes lead to these conditions. Ongoing research is investigating the causes of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in order to predict who may develop these conditions and to invent new treatments.

Psoriasis and Joint Pain

As a chronic autoimmune disorder, psoriasis can impact skin, joints and nails, and symptoms can vary from intermittent to chronic and from mild to debilitating. Symptoms develop as the immune system attacks the body, rather than protecting it from foreign intruders, which leads to inflammation. On the skin, this can manifest as sensitive, red patches and flaky skin. 

Although both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can cause joint pain, stiffness and swelling, the signs of psoriatic arthritis often resemble those of rheumatoid arthritis. Common psoriatic arthritis symptoms include:

  • Swollen fingers and toes which is often a precursor to significant joint symptoms
  • Foot pain, particularly at the back of your heel (Achilles tendinitis) or in the sole of your foot (plantar fasciitis)
  • Lower back pain called spondylitis which causes inflammation of the joints between your spinal vertebrae and in the joints between your pelvis and spine.

There are several different types of psoriatic arthritis that are identified based on how symptoms are affecting your body. For example, symmetric psoriatic arthritis affects both sides of the body (such as left and right knees) whereas asymmetric psoriatic arthritis only affects one side of the body. There are other types of psoriatic arthritis that are diagnosed based on the location of your inflammation. 

Skin Psoriasis Treatment Options and Medications

Every case of psoriasis is unique, and ultimately every treatment plan will be unique as well. While there is no known cure, the goal of psoriasis treatment is to reduce inflammation and control shedding of the skin to make flare-ups more manageable. It is important to contact your dermatologist right away if you develop joint pain, as psoriatic arthritis can cause severe joint damage if left untreated. 

Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting offers a variety of treatment options to manage psoriasis and treat psoriatic arthritis symptoms: 

Topical Creams

Cortisone creams, ointments and lotions can help control psoriasis in many patients and should be used with specific instruction. These topical medications utilize steroids and have specific preparations depending on the location of the psoriasis. Other topical medications include:

  • Scalp treatment through non-prescription and prescription shampoos, oils and more, which contain coal tar, salicylic acid or cortisone
  • Retinoids, or prescription vitamin A-related gels

Light Therapy

Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting offers two forms of light therapy—Excimer Laser Therapy (XTRAC) and light therapy through narrowband UVB. XTRAC is an FDA-cleared, clinically proven laser that can clear the skin of psoriasis and provide long-lasting results. Narrowband UVB light works to slow the rapid growth of skin cells affected by psoriasis.

Oral Medication

Oral medications such as methotrexate and cyclosporine are sometimes recommended when other treatments have failed.

Biologics

Biologics are new injection treatments that are changing the way we treat psoriasis. There are multiple agents, which our doctors can review with you to discuss benefits and side effects.

Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment Options

Psoriatic arthritis symptoms can be treated with systemic drugs that affect your whole body. Depending on your unique case of psoriatic arthritis, your dermatologist may prescribe methotrexate, cyclosporine or certain biologics. In some cases, steroid injections can reduce inflammation quickly in an affected joint. At Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting, we may team with a board-certified rheumatologist to treat joint disease linked to psoriatic arthritis. 

In addition to these medications or treatment options, whether you are experiencing psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, your dermatologist may recommend lifestyle changes to help minimize symptoms and flare ups. We always encourage changes such as quitting smoking, drinking less and minimizing stressors which can help with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis flare ups. With psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, it is common for symptoms to come and go, but it is important to continue taking medication and undergoing treatments recommended by your dermatologist. 

If you are struggling to manage your plaque psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, schedule an appointment today. Our team of board-certified dermatologists are experts in treating all types of psoriasis and can develop a personalized treatment plan based on your unique background and needs. 

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Is RF Microneedling Safe?

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Female patient speaking to a doctor.

Radiofrequency is a term commonly associated with revolutionary technology, but less commonly associated with skincare. For those seeking a minimally invasive procedure that produces improved collagen production as it tightens skin and contours the face, neck and body, radiofrequency (RF) microneedling is a proven treatment that works to minimize imperfections and achieve gorgeous, glowing skin.

This FDA-approved treatment is provided quickly and comfortably with customizable downtime and no scars. For individuals seeking a treatment to minimize the appearance of wrinkles, scarring and sagging skin, RF microneedling provides a safe and effective procedure that allows them to quickly return to their regular, day-to-day routine. As a non-surgical skin tightening treatment, RF microneedling has become a popular and effective way to bolster self-confidence without the need for extensive surgery or downtime.

What is RF Microneedling?

RF microneedling is a specialized, state of the art treatment which utilizes radiofrequency technology to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, scarring and sagging skin, all with minimal downtime and discomfort. This procedure is FDA-approved and has been used since 2001, and with the advice and experience of a board-certified cosmetic surgeon, patients can expect positive results and low risk from a minimally invasive procedure. 

Radiofrequency energy is measured in wavelengths per second. RF wavelengths fall into a particular wavelength spectrum that include the common energy waves we encounter through the radio, television and common household appliances, such as the microwave. In RF microneedling, the radiofrequency wavelength is utilized as a form of energy that produces heat. 

At Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting, RF wavelengths are harnessed through VirtueRF, a new and upgraded RF microneedling device that offers versatility while providing advanced ergonomic safety and treatment delivery features. Treatments through VirtueRF are paired with advanced sheet mask technology, the Microcurrent Mask System by Franz Skincare, which works to soothe and eliminate redness while complimenting the VirtueRF treatment.

During the treatment your dermatologist will use the handheld VirtueRF device to deliver energy directly to the treatment area. As the RF wavelengths penetrate lower levels of skin, the top level of skin remains intact. The lower levels of skin are encouraged to regenerate and rise to the surface, spurring increased collagen production and overall tightening and toning of the skin’s appearance. 

RF Microneedling Safety

While the term radiofrequency might produce a more scientific or lab-based image, radiofrequency is actually a term that describes a common wavelength which the average individual encounters on a daily basis. Keep in mind that in our daily lives we are routinely exposed to a variety of frequencies and radio frequencies through cell phones, televisions, wireless internet and other technologies. This prevalence means that RF is regularly studied and regulated by the FDA. While it has been categorized as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” this categorization is the same as coffee, power lines and common cosmetic items, such as body powder. 

There is a risk for extended exposure, but under the care of a licensed, board-certified provider, exposure is greatly regulated and minimized and the risk for any carcinogenic exposure or other health impacts is extremely low. RF treatments work to lift and tighten tissue and this effect is achieved because energy from RF wavelengths stimulate lower levels of skin to trigger new collagen production. RF microneedling is a highly popular procedure as it provides notable results with minimal side effects. Side effects can include mild and temporary redness or swelling, as well as tingling. These side effects tend to dissipate quickly while results continue to improve over the three to six weeks following treatment. 

Choosing RF Microneedling

Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting works to provide individualized RF microneedling treatment plans that meet your individual goals and needs. This journey begins with a consultation to determine your goals for the treatment and to confirm you are a good candidate for RF microneedling. This treatment provides impressive results for people of all ages and with any skin type, including tanned or darker skin.

Schedule your appointment today to learn how RF microneedling can help you take the first steps toward healthier, smoother skin. We are proud to offer this innovative technology for the benefit of our patients. 

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What is Body Contouring?

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Body contouring, also known as body sculpting, is an excellent treatment option for patients who are unable to lose bothersome pockets of fat after implementing an exercise and healthy eating plan. Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting offers numerous body contouring treatment options for various needs and parts of the body. 

Goals of Body Contouring

Body contouring treatments are versatile and can help achieve a variety of goals. Certain types of body sculpting treatments can permanently kill fat cells through a certain type of freezing technology, whereas others use heat to tighten the skin or reduce cellulite. There is also a body sculpting solution for excessive fat underneath the chin that works through an injection. No matter what your body sculpting goals are, there is likely a treatment offered by Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting to help you meet your goals quickly and effectively. 

We offer the following body sculpting treatments:

CoolSculpting®

CoolSculpting® achieves dramatic results using a scientific process called cryolipolysis, also known as “fat freezing,” which permanently kills fat cells. It uses scientifically proven and FDA-cleared non-surgical fat-freezing technology to treat visible fat bulges under the chin and jawline, along the abdomen and flank, as well as fat pockets in the back, underneath the buttocks and in the upper arm. CoolSculpting® is not a weight-loss treatment—rather, it is the top nonsurgical fat reduction treatment used by doctors. This makes it ideal for body contouring in areas that stubbornly resist healthy eating and exercise. 

TempSure

We offer TempSure Firm and TempSure Envi treatments that allow for radiofrequency skin tightening procedures on the face, neck, abdomen, arms and legs. These technologies are capable of reducing wrinkles, smoothing cellulite and tightening loose skin for a more youthful appearance. Patients dealing with unsightly after-effects of weight loss, such as laxity in the skin, can benefit tremendously from TempSure treatments. TempSure treatments can also help firm up the skin after fat removal from CoolSculpting® treatments.

Kybella

Kybella is an FDA-approved injection that can be used to get rid of submental chin fat. It is an excellent solution for patients who may have excessive fat underneath their chin and around the jawline. Kybella contains deoxycholic acid, a naturally occurring compound that dissolves stubborn fat cells that are resistant to healthy eating and exercise. Once injected into the submental fat layer, Kybella gets rid of these cells and leaves them to be naturally removed via the body’s metabolic processes. The end result is a noticeably slimmer, more contoured chin and jawline.  

PHYSIQ

PHYSIQ combines the power of laser energy with muscle stimulation to provide enhanced body perfecting results that are toned and defined. It is able to simultaneously burn fat and stimulate muscle movements, creating results that appear both slimmer and more toned. The laser energy component of PHYSIQ permanently destroys fat cells while the muscle stimulation aspect of the treatment builds muscle tone. PHYSIQ can be used almost anywhere on the body and is ideal for targeting smaller areas like the inner thighs and flanks due to its applicators being smaller than other body sculpting devices. 

Safety of Body Sculpting Under the Care of a Board-Certified Physician

Even though the body contouring treatments we offer are minimally invasive and offer limited-to-no downtime, they still require a great deal of education, training and experience to be safely conducted. Body sculpting procedures should only be carried out under the care of a licensed, board-certified physician such as our team of experienced dermatologists. At your initial appointment, we will review your medical history to ensure you are a good candidate for body contouring procedures and advise on any risks you may encounter. 

Schedule your appointment at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting to find out more about how body contouring procedures work and how they can help you achieve your goal appearance. 

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When Should You See a Doctor About Eczema?

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Doctor looking at a woman's skin.

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that impacts more than 31 million Americans and can appear anywhere on the body. Eczema symptoms can range from mild to severe and it is important to understand how these symptoms present in order to determine the best time to see a doctor. It can start as red, uncomfortable patches, although there are several types of eczema that each have different causes and symptomatic presentation on the skin. With the help of a dermatologist, this condition can be managed, and most individuals with eczema can live with minor disruptions from symptoms.

Understanding Eczema Symptoms

Eczema symptoms can include itchy patches of skin, changes in skin tone—including darkening of tone or increased redness—raised patches of skin, open or weeping sores, dry or sensitive skin or areas of swelling. These symptoms can range in severity, but if symptoms become more severe or intrusive to your daily life, it is important to talk with your dermatologist. Your dermatologist may suggest a treatment plan that can help better manage symptoms or enable you to experience less intrusive symptoms.

Eczema symptoms and situations that may require a doctor’s visit and/or more personalized treatment include:

  • Itchiness or symptoms that inhibit sleep or daily activities most days of the week
  • The development of new symptoms associated with your eczema
  • Flare-ups are occurring more frequently
  • Eczema seems to be getting worse or spreading to new locations
  • Skin inflammation that does not respond after a week of treatment with over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams
  • Yellowish or light brown crust or pus-filled blisters form over existing patches of eczema
  • Exposure to anyone with a viral skin disease, such as cold sores or genital herpes, during an eczema flare-up
  • Painful, small, fluid-filled blisters develop where you get eczema

Eczema is not a contagious condition, and treatment can help eczema become more controllable. It is important to understand your eczema symptoms, as well as what is normal for your body, to monitor changes and be able to continue to control symptoms.

Treatment Options for Eczema

For eczema patients, especially those with milder symptoms, a daily specialized skin care routine, over-the-counter medication or prescription medication from your board-certified dermatologist can help manage flare-ups. Treatments also help minimize risks for infection or scarring and understanding the triggers of eczema flare-ups can help minimize and manage them.

Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting offer several treatment options to help manage eczema symptoms and improve quality of life. Potential treatment options include:

Narrowband UVB

Narrowband UVB is a form of phototherapy that utilizes ultraviolet B (UVB) light, a natural part of sunlight that can help reduce itch, increase vitamin D production, calm inflammation and improve your body’s bacteria-fighting systems. This treatment can target specific parts of the body or can treat widespread eczema. About 70 percent of patients see improvement following phototherapy treatment with narrowband UVB. It can also provide greater relief in cases of severe eczema.

Prescription Topicals

It is recommended for individuals with eczema to adhere to a regular skincare routine that utilizes gentle ingredients. Patients with mild to moderate symptoms can begin treatment with prescription steroids that help get symptoms under control, or your dermatologist may recommend non-steroidal prescription treatments such as Elidel, Protopic or Eucrisa. Depending on symptoms and triggers, your dermatologist can recommend the best topical treatment for your lifestyle and skin’s needs, and dosages and recommendations can be tailored to meet the severity of your eczema symptoms.

DUPIXENT

Dupixent is an injection that is used to treat atopic dermatitis, which is a severe and difficult to treat form of eczema. This injection treats underlying causes of eczema and reduces inflammation, which can provide clearer skin and greater comfort. Results from this treatment include reduced itching and discomfort.

Immunosuppressants

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but scientists understand there is a connection between eczema and an overreaction of the immune system, which leads to inflammation. In cases of severe eczema symptoms, immunosuppressants may be recommended to slow down the symptoms of eczema by suppressing the immune system’s overreaction.

If you feel that it is time to see a doctor about your eczema, schedule an appointment at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting today. Our board-certified dermatologists are highly experienced and skilled in treating eczema and helping patients with eczema live fuller, more comfortable lives. 

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Rash vs. Eczema: What’s the Difference?

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Man itching his hand

Discerning whether a skin flare-up is a rash or eczema can be tricky. Eczema and rashes are commonly confused, and for good reason—they look and feel similar. If you are experiencing a red, scaly, itchy or uncomfortable patch of skin and are trying to determine what it is and how to treat it, you are in the right place. 

How to Identify Eczema

Eczema is a common skin condition that affects more than 31 million Americans and can appear anywhere on the body. It is normally first noticed as itchy, uncomfortable red patches, although symptoms and severity can vary. The term, “eczema,” encompasses a group of common, and in most cases very manageable, conditions that cause inflamed skin. Each type of eczema has its own triggers and treatment requirements, and some people experience more than one form of eczema.

Eczema symptoms can include:

  • Itchy patches of skin
  • Changes in skin tone (commonly appearing as redness in lighter skin tones and purple or ashy patches in darker skin tones)
  • Raised patches
  • Open or “weeping” sores
  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Areas of swelling

How to Identify a Rash

Since eczema and rashes exhibit many of the same symptoms, such as being itchy, rashes can be identified through a variety of other considerations. Timing is important in diagnosing a rash, as a possible exposure to an irritant could have caused it. Think over what could have caused it, such as coming in contact with a new food or unusual plant. Rashes can also be caused by tobacco smoke, insect bites, pollen, pet dander, paint, pesticides, hygiene products, wool or other irritants. 

The location of your skin irritation can also provide insight into the rash vs. eczema debate. Rashes most commonly appear on the hands, feet, ankles, neck, upper body and limbs. The most common places for eczema to appear are the hands, inside of the elbows, backs of the knees, the face and, in children, the scalp. Keep an eye on the location of your skin irritation, too—if it spreads to another part of the body, it is likely a rash. 

How to Treat a Rash

Some rashes respond well to over-the-counter oral antihistamines or hydrocortisone creams. However, rashes can sometimes be indicators of more serious issues that need to be treated by a board-certified dermatologist, or in some cases, warrant a visit to the emergency room. You should seek immediate medical attention if:

  • Your whole body is covered by the rash
  • Your rash is accompanied by a fever
  • Your rash appears suddenly and spreads quickly
  • Your rash blisters or turns into open sores
  • Your rash is painful
  • Your rash is infected as indicated by yellow or green fluid oozing, swelling, crusting, pain, warmth in the rash area or a red streak coming from the rash.

How to Treat Eczema

Eczema is a condition that can last for a long time, so it is important to understand which treatments your flare-ups respond to best so you can live as comfortably as possible. Treatment for eczema is also important to minimize the risks for infection or scarring, which can occur as a result of prolonged scratching. For many eczema patients, the basics of treatment and care comes down to managing flares by understanding triggers, having a daily skin care routine and using over the counter or prescription medication as recommended by your board-certified dermatologist. Phototherapy treatments can also minimize flare-ups.

For more information on the best skincare routine for eczema and treatment options for eczema such as topicals, antihistamines, narrowband UVB, DUPIXENT® and immunosuppressants, visit our blog about eczema treatments. You may also be a candidate for clinical research trials for eczema that are conducted by our board-certified dermatologists.

If you are in doubt about whether your skin irritation is a rash or eczema, schedule an appointment at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting. We will be able to diagnose the issue and hopefully shed light on what may have caused it and your best course of treatment.

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Does a Humidifier Help with Eczema?

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Man turning on a humidifier.

If you are one of the more than 31 million Americans affected by eczema, you may be in a position where you would be willing to try most anything to find relief. These itchy, uncomfortable red patches often worsen in dry climates or winter months, leaving behind dry, scaly skin that craves moisture. In these situations, a humidifier can be used to calm and hydrate the skin, thereby reducing uncomfortable eczema symptoms. 

How a Humidifier Calms Eczema

Eczema tends to flare up in winter months more than other seasons for two reasons. Outdoor air becomes dryer with lower humidity levels, and indoor air becomes dryer from running heaters and furnaces. All of this dryness in the air has a solution—humidifiers. These devices put moisture back into the air by emitting water vapor into the air, causing humidity levels to rise. This moisture in the air delivers more effective eczema or dry skin relief than constantly slathering on lotion. 

Running a humidifier in a room where you spend a lot of time will help keep your skin affected by eczema smooth, supple and soft. This reduces risks of infection by encouraging quicker healing of any open, cracked skin. Since these types of open wounds are vulnerable to bacteria and other germs, a humidifier can make a huge difference in your body’s ability to defend against infection. It is essential to keep your humidifier clean in order to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Choosing the Right Humidifier

Anyone who does a quick internet search for humidifiers can quickly become overwhelmed, as there are countless options from which to choose. Choosing the right size is one of the more important decisions to make. If you are wanting to increase the moisture level in numerous locations throughout your home or a whole-house, an in-duct humidifier would be the best choice, although these should be professionally maintained yearly to promote cleanliness. These can be expensive, but since some models tie into your central water supply, you would not be inconvenienced by having to refill water tanks every day. 

Alternatively, you might prefer a more affordable, portable unit that you can take from one room to the next or you may prefer to purchase individual units for each room. Tank sizes vary to accommodate different room sizes. Importantly, you will want to select humidifiers that are easy to clean and maintain. You should also use distilled or demineralized water to reduce the number of minerals released into the air and to keep your unit as clean as possible. Finding a humidifier with self-cleaning features, such as UV cleansing technologies and germ-resistant plastics, would be a plus.

Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist Humidifiers 

We recommend a cool-mist humidifier for patients with eczema since warm-mist humidifiers pose a significant burn risk. Cool-mist humidifiers work by simply vaporizing water into the air through a nozzle as an invisible, cool mist. These humidifiers usually push water into the air with a built-in fan, but there are some ultrasonic humidifiers that are fanless. These humidifiers create water droplets through vibrations at ultrasonic frequency. Since these units do not have a fan, they are quieter than those that do use a fan. 

Other Treatment Options for Eczema

Humidifiers should be used in conjunction with many other treatments for eczema. For many eczema patients, the basics of treatment and care comes down to managing flares by understanding triggers, having a daily skin care routine and using over the counter or prescription medication as recommended by a board-certified dermatologist. Phototherapy treatments can also minimize flare-ups and immunosuppressants may be prescribed in some cases.

Eczema can be an uncomfortable skin condition, but it is possible to manage symptoms and understand triggers in order to minimize flare-ups. 

At Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting, our board-certified dermatologists and licensed physician assistants will work with you to understand your lifestyle, symptoms and concerns to develop the best treatment plant to manage your eczema and flare-ups.

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How Long Does CO2 Laser Resurfacing Take to Heal?

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Laser skin resurfacing with CO2 lasers is frequently recognized as the gold standard for treating wrinkles, age spots, acne scars or other skin blemishes, as well as firming skin and balancing tone. Oftentimes, however, these ablative techniques can lead to considerable downtime depending on how the laser settings are configured. The amount of downtime needed after CO2 laser treatment depends on a variety of factors.

At Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting, our board-certified dermatologists offer innovative treatments that harness the power of CO2 laser technology to provide fractional ablative treatments with lower risks and customizable downtime. In essence, patients who desire to achieve dramatic results in as few treatments as possible should plan for more downtime, whereas patients who undergo a series of less aggressive treatments may be able to reduce their downtime after each treatment.

An Innovative Way to Harness the Power of CO2 Laser Technology

CO2 laser technology has evolved tremendously over the past decade. Traditional CO2 lasers have developed a reputation for being aggressive, painful and even capable of leaving scars behind. Fortunately, new CO2 laser treatments are much safer, require less downtime and yield impressive results. 

For example, one of the latest forms of CO2 laser technology, CoolPeel, delivers a fractional ablative treatment without the risks or downtime of traditional CO2 lasers. It utilizes the SmartXide Tetra CO2 laser, an advanced CO2 laser that stands apart from other lasers because it delivers high levels of energy in extremely short pulses. This method works by removing thin layers of skin while reducing unnecessary heat and minimizing heat damage to surrounding areas of skin, thereby reducing downtime. For individuals seeking a treatment that provides more youthful-looking and even skin, CoolPeel’s CO2 fractional laser provides an immediate aesthetic effect with customizable downtime.

CoolPeel recovery times can vary slightly depending on the size of the area treated, depth of the laser penetration and whether there were combination treatments used. After any treatment, most patients can expect to experience minor redness similar to a sunburn for one to two days after their treatment. After about two weeks, any redness or dryness will transition into bright and healthy-looking skin.  

Enhancing CO2 Laser Resurfacing Results

The results of CO2 laser resurfacing can be enhanced by combining treatments with other skin-improving technologies such as RF Microneedling or BroadBand Light™ (BBL) treatments.

RF Microneedling

RF Microneedling and CoolPeel treatments can be completed in the same session without resulting in an increased amount of downtime of redness. This combination of treatments can trigger collagen regrowth and produce more enhanced skin tightening results and improved texture due to the radiofrequency energy delivered deep beneath the skin’s surface. 

BroadBand Light™

CoolPeel can also be combined with BBL treatments which are able to target brown spots and early signs of aging. When combined with CoolPeel’s targeted treatment for fine lines and wrinkles, this combination treatment is ideal for patients combating sunspots, uneven tone or other skin conditions resulting from sun damage. BBL treatments can be conducted in the same session with CoolPeel treatments resulting in minimal discomfort and customizable downtime.

What to Expect After CO2 Laser Resurfacing

Immediately following a CoolPeel treatment, it is common to experience some minor redness similar to a sunburn, but this redness should not interfere with routine activities. Patients are encouraged to wear physical sunblock after the treatment and can even wear makeup. As your skin recovers, hydration is important, as skin can feel dry or scaly. As your skin works to shed its dead skin cells and collagen production is increased, however, you will begin to see brighter and healthier skin within a week or two following treatment. Keep in mind that the amount of downtime needed after CO2 laser resurfacing can be completely customized based on your unique needs. 

Side Effects of CO2 Laser Resurfacing

Possible side effects of CO2 laser skin resurfacing include acne flares, milia (small white bumps), prolonged redness, swelling or other conditions. In the case of acne flares, your dermatologist will recommend a personalized treatment plan. Any other side effects of CO2 laser skin resurfacing are almost always temporary, subsiding after a few days.

Prior to your CO2 laser resurfacing treatment, your cosmetic team at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting will meet with you to discuss your health, lifestyle and goals for the treatment in order to determine the best treatment plan and to discuss any potential side effects. Your concerns, goals, safety and comfort are always top-of-mind when developing a treatment plan. 

CO2 Laser Treatment Aftercare 

To obtain the best results following your laser resurfacing treatment, it is important to continue to care for your skin by applying doctor-recommended creams or serums to the treated areas a few times per day. It is also extremely important to protect your skin by avoiding excess sun exposure and using a high-quality sunblock.

Schedule your appointment at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting to find out more about CO2 treatments and how to take advantage of this gold standard in aesthetic laser treatments. 

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