Acne is the term for the blocked pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that can appear typically on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Seventeen million Americans currently have acne, making it the most common skin disease in the country. While it affects mostly teenagers, and almost all teenagers have some form of acne, adults of any age can have it. Acne is not life-threatening, but it can cause physical disfigurement (scarring) and emotional distress.
Treatment for acne varies depending on the type and severity of lesions, as well as the patient's skin type, age and lifestyle. Options include:
- Topical Medications
- Blackhead Extraction
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Skin Care
- Blu-U Light Treatments
- Laser Treatments
Acne scarring can be treated in a variety of ways as well. These include:
- Chemical Peels
- Soft Tissue Fillers
- Laser/Pulsed Light Treatments
Eczema is a group of inflamed skin conditions that result in chronic itchy rashes. About 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of eczema, including 10-20 percent of all infants. Symptoms vary from person to person but often include dry, red, itchy patches on the skin which break out in rashes when scratched.
Objects and conditions that trigger itchy eczema outbreaks may include rough or coarse materials touching the skin, excessive heat or sweating, soaps, detergents, disinfectants, fruit and meat juices, dust mites, animal saliva and danders, upper respiratory infections and stress.
Treatment involves the restriction of scratching, use of moisturizing lotions or creams, cold compresses and nonprescription anti-inflammatory corticosteroid creams and ointments. If this proves insufficient, physicians may prescribe corticosteroid medication, antibiotics to combat infection, or sedative antihistamines. Phototherapy is a common procedure that uses light to reduce rashes. For severe cases, drugs such as cyclosporine A may be recommended.
Moles and other birthmarks are benign pigmented spots or patches of skin that range in color from tan, brown and black (moles) to red, pink or purple (vascular lesions, such as strawberry hemangiomas or port wine stains). Though most birthmarks are harmless, they may develop into cancer. Moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by a professional immediately:
- Larger than six millimeters.
- Itches or bleeds.
- Rapidly changes in color, size or shape.
- Has multiple colors.
- Is located where it can't be easily monitored, such as on the scalp.
Depending on their depth, location and color, as well as the patient’s skin type, age and other factors, treatment for benign but unattractive birthmarks may take the form of laser or pulsed light therapy, microdermabrasion or surgical excision.
Photodynamic therapy more commonly refers to the treatment of actinic keratoses.
Levulan® Kerastick® (aminolevulinic acid HCl) for Topical Solution, 20% (Levulan Kerastick) plus blue light illumination using the BLU-U® Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy Illuminator (Levulan PDT) is indicated for the treatment of minimally to moderately thick actinic keratosis of the face or scalp. Actinic keratoses (AKs) are rough-textured, dry, scaly patches on the skin that can lead to skin cancer. It is important to treat AKs because there is no way to tell when or which lesions will progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer.
Levulan PDT, a 2-part treatment, is unique because it uses a light activated drug therapy to destroy AKs. How does it work? Levulan Kerastick Topical Solution is applied to the AK. The solution is then absorbed by the AK cells where it is converted to a chemical that makes the cells extremely sensitive to light. When the AK cells are exposed to the BLU-U Blue Light Illuminator, a reaction occurs which destroys the AK cells.
Melasma is a common skin condition where patches of skin on the face turn brown. The most commonly affected areas are the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead and upper lip. Melasma mostly affects women. Causes include exposure to ultraviolet light and hormonal changes resulting from pregnancy or birth control.
Treatments for melasma include:
- UVA/UVB Sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher
- Sunblock Lotions
- Avoidance of Any Irritating Cleansers, Creams or Makeup Products
- Discontinuation of Birth Control
- Bleaching Creams including Hydroquinone
- Glycolic Acid Peels
Treatment by a dermatologist often improves the appearance of melasma and prevents future recurrence.