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End of Summer Skin Checks for the Whole Family

October 12, 2020


For our part of the world, summer is coming to an end and now is the perfect time for the whole family to get a skin check. Due to the coronavirus, leading dermatologists are saying annual skin checks may be more important this fall than ever before. In addition to trading in work clothes for flip flops, cutoffs and a bathing suit, most people have had more time to spend outside exposed to sunlight during the restrictions imposed by the lockdown. In fact, long walks, working in the garden, spending time splashing around in the pool, and entertaining the family at backyard events were among the few recreational activities that everyone could safely enjoy. Although you may have liked the warmth, there is a downside to time spent soaking up excessive amounts of sun. As essential as the sunlight is to your body, exposure to ultraviolet rays can be a key reason for visible changes to your skin. If you developed a spot or rash that looks concerning, schedule an appointment today at one of the sixteen (16) convenient Central Florida locations for Associates in Dermatology.

New Spots Should Raise Suspicion

“It is important that you never ignore any unexplained skin blemish,” says Michael Steppie, M.D., a clinical professor of Dermatology at Florida State University College of Medicine and the President and Medical Director of Associates in Dermatology. “Although skin cancer is not something that only happens during the summer months, ultraviolet radiation can cause defects to your metabolism and produce DNA errors.”

Being younger, eating healthier foods, and staying physically active gives your body an edge on repairing skin that was damaged by sunlight and other stressors. Conversely, if you have underlying health conditions and bad lifestyle habits, the less effective your repair mechanisms will be. When your body can no longer keep up, skin problems including cancer can occur. Although it is essential to watch for visible changes to existing moles and age spots, recent studies suggest many cases do emerge from new spots.

If you’ve been wondering What’s That?, check out The Big See campaign launched by the Skin Cancer Foundation. But remember, periodic self-checks and appointments with your dermatologist always provide the best assurance for identifying skin issues in a timely manner.

“Whether you feel like you’ve been spending more time outside or not, you need to have your skin checked from head to toe,” says Dr. Steppie. Although older adults and people with lighter colored skin are at greater risk for skin cancer, anyone can develop the disease at any time of the year. People of color may have more natural protection for skin exposed to sunlight, but they are also more likely to develop skin cancer in other areas, such as the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, underneath nails, and inside the mouth. If you have seen new or existing moles that have been changing in appearance, make sure to have them checked out soon. When it comes to skin cancer, early detection is crucial and can be lifesaving. Moreover, early-on is the time when more treatment options are available.

Summer Can Be Hard on Your Skin

Although there is never a good time for acne, some people struggle with their worse cases during the summer months when sweating is worse. Nonetheless, even blackheads that have not become infected should be checked by a provider who can prescribe the best treatments to help restore healthy skin. The prolonged period of warmer temperatures in the Sunshine State is also bad news for people who suffer from eczema and other skin rashes that are triggered by excessive sweating. “Atopic dermatitis can flare-up more often when family members are spending time in the heat,” says Dr. Steppie. Although there is no cure for eczema, our experienced providers can help reduce inflammation, control itching, and discuss other treatment options based on your specific diagnosis.

Hives are an inflammation of the skin triggered when your body’s immune system releases histamine. With the extended time spent outdoors during the pandemic, numerous culprits could have triggered an allergic response. The most common are pollens, dust mites, mold, animal dander, insect stings, and latex as well as certain foods and medications. With warmer weather this summer, plants, trees, and shrubs had a much longer growing season to produce allergens. Allergic contact dermatitis can occur whenever your skin comes in direct contact with an allergen causing you to develop red, bumpy, itchy, swollen, blistered, or scaly patches of skin. For most cases, the itching and redness will get better over a short period of time.

If your skin rash is not improving or is adversely affecting your quality of life, click here to book an appointment at one of our sixteen (16) Central Florida locations.

NIAID Supports Skin Allergy Research

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is one of 27 centers that make up the National Institute of Health (NIH). In a recent news release, the NIAID announced its support for research to increase the understanding of the immune system and how it contributes to the development of eczema and other complications in both adults and children. Since the skin of people with atopic dermatitis often lacks certain infection-fighting proteins, it makes the person more susceptible to developing serious skin conditions due to fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. Children whose parents have skin allergies or asthma are more likely to develop eczema than children of parents without allergic diseases. Approximately 30% of children with atopic dermatitis are believed to have allergies, and many will develop respiratory conditions as well.

Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. However, if you have an allergy, your body can overreact to the substance you touched or inhaled causing the production of antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells and release chemicals that cause an allergic reaction. According to the CDC, 9.2 million children under the age of 18 were reported to have skin allergies over the past twelve months. Moreover, some three million physician office visits resulted with a primary diagnosis of contact dermatitis or other forms of eczema. Extended time outside during the summer months also meant added exposure to insects and more bug bites that could have triggered an immune response. Adults and children who have insect allergies are often allergic to bee stings, ant bites, wasp stings, cockroaches, and dust mites.

Skin Allergy Testing at Associates in Dermatology

Skin patch tests have been used for more than a hundred years to help diagnose allergy-related contact dermatitis. Patch testing is painless and the T.R.U.E. (thin layer rapid use) TEST® strips used at Associates in Dermatology are applied to a healthy area of skin on your back to test for one or more of the 36 allergen substances included on the strips. Although the methodology is simple, it does require an experienced provider to interpret the results and help you better manage allergic dermatitis. Dr. Michael Steppie is a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, which promotes education, research, and advocacy through CAMP (Contact Allergen Management Program).

Test strips, or panels, are typically removed 48 hours after application to evaluate your skin’s reaction. Since late positive reactions may occur, additional readings are required at 72 and 96 hours. Bigger wheals (red to skin-colored welts) usually indicate a greater sensitivity to a specific allergen. Nonetheless, readings should not be attempted without a follow-up visit to correctly identify the causative agent(s). The nice thing about patch testing for allergies is that you get specific information about what you may or may not be allergic to during your follow-up visit to an Associates in Dermatology office. With patch skin test results that identify your specific allergens, we can explain your options to help you better control eczema and other skin conditions.

 

“Always Be on the Lookout for Anything New, Changing or Unusual”

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