Have you heard of Toxicodendron radicans? No? Well, you have likely heard of their colloquial name—poison ivy. Sporting leaves filled with Urushiol, an oily resin that can cause a painful rash when in contact with human skin, poison ivy can cause a number of painfully uncomfortable symptoms.
Read on to learn the symptoms of poison ivy exposure, how to treat its symptoms, and whether those symptoms warrant a trip to your local dermatologist.
Poison ivy rashes often show up right after exposure to the plant leaves, although they do sometimes spring up a couple days afterward, as well. Symptoms of the rash include:
- Red streaks and patches on the skin
- The emergence of hives, blisters, and red bumps
- General swelling
- Acute itching
Once you have discovered the rash, there are some initial steps that you can take to relieve your symptoms. These include:
- Immediately run cool water over your skin at the first sight of rash
- Use over-the-counter cortisone and calamine creams to relieve itching
- Take an oral antihistamine (e.g. Benadry) to reduce itching and inflammation
After 1 to 3 weeks, the rash should dissipate on its own, without the requirement for medical care. However, there are some scenarios in which you should seek out the attention of your local dermatologist. For instance, call a doctor if you experience:
- Pus emitting from the rash
- A general spreading of the rash
- A failure of the rash to clear up after a couple weeks
In other scenarios, emergency care may prove necessary. Call 911 if you experience:
- Trouble breathing or a swelling of the throat
- Extreme swelling, especially around the eyes
- A spreading of the rash to the mouth, eyes, or genitals
Concerned? Give Call Your Local Dermatologist
Are you experiencing overly distressing symptoms of poison ivy exposure or a rash that just won’t go away? If so, contact your dermatologist and find relief.
Warts are small, harmless growths that develop on the skin. You may notice only one or they may grow in clusters. While they are usually painless, sometimes they can develop in places like the soles of the feet (known as plantar warts), which can be uncomfortable. Common warts often appear on the hands and arms while flat warts develop on the face and forehead. Plantar warts are typically found on the soles of the feet. Apart from developing these skin-colored growths, there usually aren’t any other symptoms associated with this condition.
What causes warts?
Warts are caused by an infection known as the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 strains of HPV that can develop in different areas of the body, from the mouth and skin to the genital region. The type of HPV that causes warts on the hands, feet, or rest of the body isn’t the same type that causes genital warts.
How do I treat warts?
Warts usually go away on their own once the body fights the infection; however, it can take months to years for the wart to go away. Therefore, if you feel embarrassed by the wart or if the wart is in an awkward or uncomfortable place then you may choose to visit a dermatologist to have it removed. If you are a healthy individual you may also consider trying an over-the-counter wart removal option before turning to a dermatologist.
You should see a dermatologist if:
- Warts are spreading or getting worse
- Warts aren’t responding to at-home treatment
- Warts are developing on your face or genitals
- Warts are painful, bleeding, or itching
- You have a weakened immune system
- You have diabetes
When you visit your dermatologist, they will first need to make sure that the growth is a wart. Depending on the type and location of the warts, your skin doctor will talk to you about your treatment options. Common ways to treat warts include,
This topical treatment is often used on warts of the hands, feet or knees, and you will need to apply the topical treatment daily for several weeks. After the solution is applied you will also use a pumice stone to file away the dead outer layer of skin from the wart. The acid treatment will continue to kill the wart layer by layer until it’s completely gone.
Freezing the Wart
This is another common method for removing a wart. Liquid nitrogen is sprayed on the wart to freeze it. This is also referred to as cryotherapy. More than one liquid nitrogen treatment session may be needed in order to completely remove the wart.
Other options for removing a wart include burning, cutting or removing the wart with a laser, and these treatment options are often used on warts that don’t respond to the other treatments above. If you are dealing with warts and want to turn to a dermatologist to have it removed, then call to make your next appointment.
Acne can make you miserable, affecting your self-esteem and self-confidence. You may have tried every over-the-counter product available, only to find your breakouts are just as bad, and may have even become worse. The truth is, many over-the-counter acne products just irritate your skin, without reducing your acne.
The secret is, you need to seek out help from the experts. Our dermatology team—Dr. Marc Meulener, Sydne Miller PA-C, Cennia Hernandez PA-C, and Melissa Miao- PA at Choice Dermatology in Elizabeth, NJ, offer a full range of dermatology treatments, including effective acne solutions. Proudly serving residents of Elizabeth, Basking Ridge, and Morristown, NJ.
Acne doesn’t discriminate; it can affect both teenagers and adults, leading to blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, cysts, and other blemishes. You may be tempted to leave your acne alone, but that might be a mistake. Untreated acne can leave behind permanent scarring.
There are some things you can do to prevent acne breakouts. Remember to:
- Exercise regularly; this helps to increase perspiration, which eliminates toxins.
- Eat a healthy diet; minimize fatty, greasy foods and dairy products.
- Stay hydrated; drinking water helps flush out toxins that can cause acne.
- Wear makeup that doesn’t clog your pores, known as non-comedogenic makeup.
Your dermatologist can treat your acne, giving you back your clear, beautiful skin. Dr. Meulener may recommend:
- Salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide treatments if you have mild acne; these treatments can unblock pores and eliminate small blemishes.
- Oral and topical antibiotics; these medications can eliminate the underlying bacteria causing the acne.
- Isotretinoin treatment if you have moderate to severe acne; these treatments help with painful cystic acne.
Dr. Meulener also offers effective treatments if you do have acne scarring. You can have clear skin again, and professional dermatology services are the answer. To find out more about acne treatments and other skincare services, call Dr. Marc Meulener or our physician's assistants, Sydne Miller, Cennia Hernandez and Melissa Miao at Choice Dermatology. Call (908) 766-7546 to schedule an appointment at the Basking Ridge, NJ, office or (908) 355-0112 to schedule an appointment at the Elizabeth, NJ, office.
Find out how this pigmented skin condition is treated.
Are you or someone you love dealing with vitiligo? The Mayo Clinic reports that there are more than 200,000 new cases of vitiligo each year in the US alone. Vitiligo is a chronic disease where the melanin, which gives your skin its pigment, either dies or the body stops producing it. As a result, there are white patches of skin all over the body. So, you may be wondering how this condition occurs or how you can treat it. This is when it’s important to turn to your dermatologist.
What causes vitiligo?
Unfortunately, researchers still do not know why some people develop vitiligo. It may be the result of an autoimmune disease, where the body attacks the melanocytes in the skin. Some researchers also believe that something as simple as a sunburn or even emotional stress could cause vitiligo; however, the cause is still unknown.
Who is at risk for developing vitiligo?
Even though this condition can appear at any time in a person’s life it more commonly occurs in your 20's. It affects both men and women of all races; however, vitiligo is more noticeable in those with darker skin. Those with autoimmune disorders are often more likely to develop vitiligo than those who do not have an autoimmune disorder. Genetics may also play a role; however, parents with vitiligo won’t necessarily pass this condition onto their child.
What are the symptoms of vitiligo?
Vitiligo is characterized by large white patches of skin, which may appear anywhere on the body. These patches most commonly appear on the face, hands, feet, arms, and other sun-exposed areas. Sometimes the white patches will spread over time. How quickly the patches spread will vary from person to person; however, sometimes the patches won’t spread at all.
How is vitiligo treated?
It’s important to turn to a dermatologist that you trust if you think you or a family member is dealing with vitiligo. During your consultation, your doctor will examine your skin to determine how widespread and numerous the patches are so that we have a better idea what type of treatment will be the most effective.
We will also go through your medical history and ask you questions about your condition. Treatment for vitiligo, like most skin disorders, will not work overnight. In fact, there is often a trial-and-error period to try and find the best treatment option.
The most common types of vitiligo treatment include medication, light therapies, and surgery, all of which are designed to restore pigmentation back into the skin.
Prescribed medications may be applied topically or taken orally. Certain UVA/UVB light therapy treatments may also improve your condition. Skin grafting surgery may be recommended, in which your dermatologist will remove skin from another area of the body and apply it over the patches to hide them and even out skin tone.
Your dermatologist can also recommend a full-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin when going outside, as well as any counseling and support you may need. If you or someone you love is looking for vitiligo treatment, contact your dermatologist today.
The effects of chickenpox may last beyond your childhood infection. Shingles, a widespread, itchy, painful rash, can break out at any time in adulthood because the causative agent, the Varicella Zoster virus, lies dormant within the body for life. Your dermatologist can help you control the awful pain and dangerous complications of shingles. He or she also has suggestions on avoiding an outbreak of this common and contagious skin disease.
What does shingles look like? A shingles rash is a reddened, itchy, oozing skin rash composed of raised blisters. Typically, it is widespread on the face near the eye, on the torso (front wrapping around to the back), or on the neck. People experience exceptional pain for at least two to six weeks, and due to damaged nerve endings, some individuals have unresolved pain for years.
What are the potential complications? Just like its childhood counterpart, shingles is contagious. So, people exposed to your shingle rash may develop chickenpox if they have never been sick with it previously.
Plus, shingles may lead to serious vision or hearing problems, fever, balance issues, and light sensitivity. People with a weakened immune system are potential shingles sufferers, and unfortunately, perfectly healthy people who have a shingles flare-up can then become immunosuppressed. In short, shingles is nothing to joke about.
How is it treated? Mild cases respond to cool baths, skin calming lotions, topical steroids and over the counter pain relievers. More severe flare-ups may require narcotic pain relievers, anti-convulsants, steroidal injections and numbing medications applied directly to the skin. Medications such as Acyclovir and Valacyclovir help dampen the spread of the virus.
Can you prevent an outbreak of shingles? Your dermatologist or primary care physician may provide you with a shingles vaccine to greatly reduce your chances of having shingles. The American Academy of Dermatology says that Zostavoax is for patients over 60, and the Shingrix vaccine may be administered beginning at age 50.
Find out more
Your dermatologist is an excellent resource for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of simple to complex skin conditions and diseases. If you are starting a shingle outbreak or desire to prevent one, call your skin doctor for a consultation. He or she will inform you on the best ways to stay as healthy as possible.
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