Skin Conditions

Poison ivy

The sap may be on the plant, in the ashes of burned plants, on an animal, or on other objects that came in contact with the plant, such as clothing, garden tools, and sports equipment. Small amounts of sap can remain under a person's fingernails for several days unless it is deliberately removed with very good cleaning. This family of plants (Toxicodendron) is hardy and difficult to eradicate. They are found in every state of the continental United States. They grow best along cool streams and lakes and luxuriate if it is also sunny and hot. They do not grow in Alaska or Hawaii, and do not survive well above 5000 feet, in deserts, or in rainforests. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Moles

Moles are growths on the skin. They happen when pigment cells in the skin, called melanocytes, grow in clusters. Moles are very common. Most people have between 10 and 40 moles. A person may develop new moles from time to time, usually until about age 40. In older people, they tend to fade away. Moles are usually pink, tan or brown. They can be flat or raised. They are usually round or oval and no larger than a pencil eraser. About one out of every ten people has at least one unusual (or atypical) mole that looks different from an ordinary mole. They are called dysplastic nevi. They may be more likely than ordinary moles to develop into melanoma, a type of skin cancer. You should have a health care professional check your moles if they look unusual, grow larger, change in color or outline, or in any other way.  

Melanoma

Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole. Most melanomas have a black or black-blue area. Melanoma may also appear as a new mole. It may be black, abnormal, or "ugly looking." Thinking of "ABCDE" can help you remember what to watch for: Asymmetry - the shape of one half does not match the other Border - the edges are ragged, blurred or irregular Color - the color is uneven and may include shades of black, brown and tan Diameter - there is a change in size, usually an increase Evolving - the mole has changed over the past few weeks or months Surgery is the first treatment of all stages of melanoma. Other treatments include chemotherapy and radiation, biologic, and targeted therapies. Biologic therapy boosts your body's own ability to fight cancer. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.  

Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is harmless. It seems to run in families.  It is more common in people who have very dry skin, or who have eczema.

Lupus

This can damage your joints, skin, blood vessels and organs. There are many kinds of lupus. The most common type, systemic lupus erythematosus, affects many parts of the body. Discoid lupus causes a rash that doesn't go away. Subacute cutaneous lupus causes sores after being out in the sun. Another type can be caused by medication. Neonatal lupus, which is rare, affects newborns. Anyone can get lupus, but women are most at risk. Lupus is also more common in African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American women. The cause of lupus is not known. Lupus has many symptoms. Some common symptoms are Joint pain or swelling Muscle pain Fever with no known cause Fatigue Red rashes, often on the face (also called the "butterfly rash") There is no one test to diagnose lupus, and it may take months or years to make the diagnosis. There is no cure for lupus, but medicines and lifestyle changes can help control it.  

Shingles

After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body. It may not cause problems for many years. As you get older, the virus may reappear as shingles. Although it is most common in people over age 50, anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk. You can't catch shingles from someone who has it. However, if you have a shingles rash, you can pass the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox. This would usually be a child, who could get chickenpox instead of shingles. The virus spreads through direct contact with the rash, and cannot spread through the air. Early signs of shingles include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, usually on one side of the body or face. The pain can be mild to severe. Rashes or blisters appear anywhere from one to 14 days later. If shingles appears on your face, it may affect your vision or hearing. The pain of shingles may last for weeks, months, or even years after the blisters have healed. There is no cure for shingles. Early treatment with medicines that fight the virus may help. These medicines may also help prevent lingering pain. A vaccine may prevent shingles or lessen its effects. The vaccine is recommended for people 60 or over. In some cases doctors may give it to people ages 50 to 59.