A birthmark is a colored mark on or under the skin that’s present at birth or develops shortly after birth.Some birthmarks fade with time; others become more pronounced. Birthmarks may be caused by extra pigment in the skin or by blood vessels that do not grow normally. Most birthmarks are painless and harmless. In rare cases, they can cause complications or are associated with other conditions. All birthmarks should be checked by a doctor.
See the slideshow here: http://www.medicinenet.com/birthmarks_pictures_slideshow/article.htm
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has a port wine stain.
Salmon patches are nests of blood vessels that appear as small, pink, flat marks on the skin. They occur in 1/3 of newborn babies. Salmon patches can appear on the back of the neck (“stork bite”), between the eyes (“angel’s kiss”), or on the forehead, nose, upper lip, or eyelids. Some fade as baby grows, but patches on the back of the neck usually don’t go away. Salmon patches require no treatment.
Port Wine Stains
A port wine stain begins as a flat, pinkish-red mark at birth and gradually becomes darker and reddish-purple with age. Most will get bigger and thicker, too. Port wine stains are caused by dilated blood capillaries. Those on the eyelid may increase the risk of glaucoma. Port wine stains may be a sign of other disorders, but usually not. Treatment includes laser therapy, skin grafts, and masking makeup.
Mongolian spots are flat, smooth marks that are present from birth. Frequently found on the buttocks or lower back, they’re typically blue, but can also be bluish gray, bluish black, or brown. They may resemble a bruise. Mongolian spots are most common on darker-skinned babies. They usually fade by school age, but may never disappear entirely. No treatment is required.
Cafe-au-lait spots are smooth and oval and range in color from light to medium brown, which is how they got their name, “coffee with milk” in French. They’re typically found on the torso, buttocks, and legs. Cafe-au-lait spots may get bigger and darker with age, but are generally not considered a problem. However, having several spots larger than a quarter is linked with neurofibromatosis and the rare McCune-Albright syndrome. Consult a doctor if your child has several spots.
Hemangiomas are a collection of small, closely packed blood vessels. Strawberry hemangiomas occur on the surface of the skin, usually on the face, scalp, back, or chest. They may be red or purple; they can be flat or slightly raised, with sharp borders. Strawberry hemangiomas usually develop a few weeks after birth. They grow rapidly through the first year before subsiding around age 9. Some slight discoloration or puckering of the skin may remain at the site. No treatment is required, but when desired, medicines and laser therapy are effective.
Present at birth, deeper cavernous hemangiomas are just under the skin and appear as a bluish spongy mass of tissue filled with blood. If they’re deep enough, the overlying skin may look normal. Cavernous hemangiomas typically appear on the head or neck. Most disappear by puberty. A combination of cavernous and strawberry hemangioma can occur.
Venous malformations are caused by abnormally formed, dilated veins. Although present at birth, they may not become apparent until later in childhood or adulthood. Venous malformations appear in 1% to 4% of babies. They are often found on the jaw, cheek, tongue, and lips. They may also appear on the limbs, trunk and internal organs, including the brain. They will continue to grow slowly, and they don’t shrink with time. Treatment — often sclerotherapy or surgery — may be necessary for pain or impaired function.
Pigmented Nevi (Moles)
Moles occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body, alone or in groups. Moles are usually flesh-colored, brown, or black. Moles may darken with sun exposure and during pregnancy. They tend to lose color during adulthood and may disappear in old age. Most moles are not cause for alarm. However, moles may have a slightly increased risk of becoming skin cancer. Moles should be checked by a doctor if:
* They change size or shape
* They look diffrent from other moles
* They appear after age 20
Actress Eva Mendes sports a “beauty mark” on her check.
Congenital nevi are moles that appear at birth. The skin texture may range from normal to raised, or nodular to irregular. Congenital
nevi can grow anywhere on the body and vary in size –from a small 1-inch mark to a giant birthmark covering half of the body or more. Small congenital nevi occur in 1% of newborns. Most moles are not dangerous. But congenital nevi, especially large ones, should always be evaluated by a doctor since they may have an increased risk of becoming skin cancer.
Dysplastic Nevi (Atypical Moles)
Atypical moles are generally larger (one-quarter inch across or more) than ordinary moles and have irregular and indistinct borders. They may resemble cancerous moles. They may have a mix of colors including pink, red, tan and brown.These moles tend to be hereditary. Atypical moles have an increased chance of developing into melanoma skin cancer. Have a doctor evaluate all moles that look unusual, grow larger, or change in any way.
BENIGN GROWTHS & MOLES
Everyone has skin growths. The dermatologist is the expert on determining which are harmless and which should receive attention.
This article is not a substitute for a medical exam. If you have any serious skin issues or concerns, you need to consult your physician.
Everyone has moles, from a few to several dozen. Most people think of a mole as being a dark brown spot, but moles have a much wider range of appearance. They can be raised from the skin and very noticeable, or they may contain dark hairs. Having hairs in a mole doesn’t make it more dangerous.
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or grouped. They usually are brown in color and can be various sizes and shapes. Special cells that contain the pigment melanin cause the brown color. Facial moles are probably are determined before a person is born. Many of those that form in childhood and early adult life are now thought to be due to sun damage. Some may not appear until later in life, but moles that appear after age 50 should be regarded with suspicion. Moles may darken, which can happen after exposure to the sun, pregnancy and sometimes during therapy with certain steroid drugs. Moles can be safely removed for cosmetic or medical reasons.
These are benign growths that consists of small blood vessels. These tumors can be located anywhere on the body. Some of the different types include spider angiomas, cherry angiomas, and angiokeratomas. We do not know the cause of most types of angiomas.
Multiple small brown spots that may appear on wrists, backs of the hands, forearms, and face could be solar lentigos. These are also called “liver spots” or “age spots” and occur later in life. The are flat and evenly colored.
After a person reaches middle age, he or she may acquire other dark areas that are not moles. The brown, wart-like growths that appear on the face or trunk and look as if they have been stuck to the skin may be seborrheic keratoses. Seborrheic keratoses are non-cancerous thickenings of the outer layer of skin. They may be just one growth or clusters. They are usually brown but can vary in color from light tan all the way to black. They’re different sizes as well –anywhere from a fraction of an inch in diameter to larger than a half dollar. A main feature of seborrheic keratoses is their waxy, pasted-on, or stuck-on look. They sometimes look like a dab of warm brown candle wax that has dropped onto the skin. Others have a rough surface.
Actinic Keratoses, also called solar keratoses, are caused by sun damage. They occur on body areas that have been heavily exposed to sunlight or exposed a little bit often for a lot of years. The face, hands, forearms and the V of the neck are the most common areas for actinic keratoses. They may get sore a times. These growths are more common among pale-skinned, fair-haired, light-eyed individuals. They are flatter, redder and rougher than seborrheic keratosis. Actinic keratoses are pre-cancerous, which means they may become skin cancers. The risk has been estimated at 1% per spot, per year,
Warts are caused by a viral infection of the cells found in the top layer of the skin. The name of this virus is the human papillomavirus HPV). Warts are skin-colored and feel rough to the touch. Hand warts are usually found around the nails, on the fingers and on the back of the hand. They are more common where skin has been broken and in the areas where fingernails are bitten or hangnails picked. Foot warts are usually on the soles of the feet. These warts are called plantar warts (this has nothing to do with farming-the bottom of the foot is called the plantar side by doctors). Flat warts are much smaller and are less rough than hand or foot warts. They tend to grow in great numbers — 20 to 100 at any one time. They can occur anywhere, but in children they are most common on the face. In adults they are most often found in the beard area in men and on the legs in women. Skin irritation from shaving probably accounts for this.
Watch out for…
Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer. Melanomas are often, but not always, very dark brown to bluish-black growths. Melanomas may be confused with seborrheic keratoses or moles because both can become very dark. It is wise to have any growth that turns dark or becomes irritated checked by a dermatologist. Early detection of skin cancer is the best way to assure successful treatment.
Information by : Dermatologist, Robert M Rosen, D. O.
Most squamous cell carcinomas may be treated by one of the following methods. More healthy tissue around the lesion is removed than for basal cell carcinomas because of the potential of squamous cell carcinomas to spread. Nearby lymph nodes are also examined carefully. The choice of treatment is influenced by:
* size, location, grade, and type of tumour
* whether the tumour is primary or is recurring
* person’s age and health
* people with organ transplants are at a high risk of aggressive squamous cell carcinoma, which is considered in their treatment plan
* availability of the treatment
Surgery (Wide Excision)
# used for:
- most small lesions that are less than 2 cm
- superficial or SCC that has not spread
- verrucous carcinomas (slow growing and less aggressive)
- tumours that have previously been treated with radiation therapy
- lesions on the eyelid, forehead, scalp, lip, penis, vulva and anus
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
* used for all types of squamous cell cancer
* commonly used for:
- areas that are at high risk of recurrence (eyelids, nose, ears, forehead, scalp), as well as areas that have - already recurred
- areas where it is important to keep function and appearance
- lesions that are larger than 2 cm, and lesions with poorly defined borders
- aggressive tumours, and invasive lesions that have spread to nerves, cartilage or bone
- tumours that have been left untreated for a long time
- lesions that had not been completely removed with prior surgery it involves a meticulous study of tissues removed by a pathologist at the time of surgery
* used after surgery for:
- elderly individuals
- ensuring cancer free margins
- treatment of involved lymph nodes
- squamous cell carcinoma that has recurred after surgery
- to relieve or control the symptoms of very large tumours
- for people who are unwilling or unable to undergo surgery
- tumours on the eyelid, cheek, earlobe and nose not used for verrucous carcinomas (slow growing and less aggressive)
* systemic chemotherapy is used for squamous cell cancer that has spread to other parts of the body
* drugs used most often in chemotherapy:
Curettage And Electrodesiccation (C & E)
- small areas that are less than 2 cm
- lesions that haven’t spread
- squamous cell carcinoma with distinct margins in Actinic Keratosis should not be used for:
- larger lesions that are greater than 2 cm
- recurrent tumours
- aggressive squamous cell carcinoma
- lesions with poorly defined borders
- hairy areas like the underarms, scalp, and the pubic area
- areas where it is important to keep function and appearance uncommonly used
Our skin is host to a number of bacteria, most of which are beneficial. Including the friendly flora in our gut, more than 200 species of bacteria reside within the tissues exposed to the external environment. Skin infections result from these bacteria when the integrity of the skin breaks down or when the immune defense system is weak.
Skin infections can occur on the skin surface or deeper within the skin tissue. The most common bacteria that infect the skin are Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. Read more about bacterial infections on www.skincareguide.ca/conditions/bacterial_infections
TYPES OF BACTERIAL INFECTIONS:
Impetigo and Ecthyma
Impetigo begins with a redness of the skin and progresses to blisters that fill with fluid and itch, and then produce honey-colored crusts. Lesions usually form around the nose and face. Ecthyma is a deeper version of impetigo that usually forms on the legs. It causes large boils, crusts, and deep sores that leave scars.
Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles. It produces pimplelike skin bumps and small blisters with pus. Folliculitis occurs on the face, upper trunk, arms, and buttocks. When the infection goes deeper, feels tender, and produces more pus, it is furunculosis. Carbuncles are furuncles that have fused.
An abscess is a deep infection that appears like a closed blister or an open hole with pus. It is usually tender and becomes sore and painful as the infection progresses.
Erysipelas and Cellulitis
Erysipelas is a superficial infection that tends to occur in young children and the elderly. It is also seen in those who have chronic swelling of the limbs, are addicted to alcohol, have diabetes mellitus, or have experienced trauma. Erysipelas mostly occurs on the face or legs. A fever occurs abruptly, the cheeks become red, and the skin feels hot, tense, and swollen. Cellulitis is a deeper form of this infection.
Bacterial skin infections are treated according to their severity. Your physician may incise and drain deeper infections and abscesses, and recommend that you apply warm compresses. Creams such as Fucidin® or Bactroban® are prescribed for mild stages of:
If the infection is more extensive, oral antibiotics such as Cloxacillin or Cephalexin are used as well as those in the erythromycin family. Penicillin is often used to treat for strep.
Antibiotic resistance is an increasing problem so it is best to have early adequate proper treatment to minimize risk of exposure to antibiotics and lower the risk of transmission to others.
During treatment, remember to wash your hands daily with an antibacterial solution such as Trisan®, Tersaseptic® or Hibitane®, or use a product like Safe4Hours® (www.invisicare.com) which kills bacteria for four hours. Hand washing is the most important thing you can do to minimize the spread of infection.
If you suspect a bacterial skin infection, see your doctor before it becomes severe. Due to the increase of bacterial resistance to drugs in general, it is important to take the full course of your prescribed medicines.
Lasers and intense pulsed light sources are frequently used for the treatment of pigmented lesions, and the appropriate selection of devices for different lesions is vital to achieving satisfactory clinical outcomes. In dark-skinned patients, the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is of particular importance. In general, long-pulse laser and intense pulsed light sources can be effective with a low risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) when used for the treatment of lentigines. However, for dermal pigmentation and tattoo, Q-switched lasers are effective, with a lower risk of complications. In the removal of melanocytic nevi, a combined approach with a long-pulse pigmented laser and a Q-switched laser is particularly applicable.
Key Words: pigmented lesions, hyperpigmentation, lasers, intense pulsed light sources
The cutaneous application of lasers and intense pulsed light sources for the treatment of pigmented lesions can be divided into the following categories:
b) Epidermal pigmentation such as lentigines and café au lait patches
c) Dermal pigmentation such as nevus of Ota, acquired bilateral nevus of Ota, and melanocytic nevi
The use of lasers has been effective in the removal of some, but not all, tattoos. Q-switched lasers have been found to be safe and effective in the treatment of tattoos. The response to laser treatment can vary greatly due to the wide range of tattoo ink. Previous in vitro quantitative chemical analysis of tattoo pigments found that the most common elements were aluminium, titanium, and carbon. Titanium overrepresentation was identified as the main reason for a poor response to laser treatment. Picosecond lasers were found to be more effective in achieving a greater degree of clearing. To improve the clinical outcome, more recent developments have included the external application of magnets to improve the removal of magnetite skin tattoos after Q-switched laser treatment, and the use of intradermal focusing of the Q-switched laser. In terms of complications, tattoos can darken after laser treatment due to the reduction of ferric oxide to ferrous oxide. This can be rectified with repeated Q-switched laser treatment and the use of a resurfacing laser. Less common complications include the development of allergic dermatitis or even anaphylactic shock after the laser surgery. Such reactions are thought to occur due to the release of allergic pigment into the extracellular space after laser exposure.
Lasers have been used for the treatment of lentigines, and although this is often effective for light-skinned patients with limited complications, for dark-skinned patients with a higher epidermal melanin content it can be associated with complications such as hyperpigmentation. Two years ago, our group performed an in vivo study of 34 patients and compared a Q-switched 532nm Neodymium:Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet (QS 532nm Nd:YAG) laser to a long-pulse 532nm Nd:YAG laser. We found that the long pulse 532nm Nd:YAG laser (2msec pulse duration, 6.5-8J/cm2 fluence, 2mm spot size, with slate gray appearance as the clinical end-point) can result in a lower risk of PIH when used in the treatment of lentigines in Asians. We created controversy when we suggested that the photomechanical effect of QS lasers might not be desirable when used in such treatment. Intense pulsed light sources (IPL), which emit a broad band of visible light from a non-coherent filtered flashlamp, produce only photothermal effects. Recent studies that investigated the use of IPL to remove lentigines in Asians confirmed their effectiveness. Interestingly, no case of PIH was observed in two independent studies.
These observations confirm our hypothesis that the photomechanical effect of Q-switched laser for the treatment of lentigines in Asians is not desirable. The main concern regarding the use of the long-pulse laser for the treatment of cutaneous pigmented lesions is the potential of thermal diffusion from the epidermis to the dermis, which increases the risk of scar formation. To prevent such an occurrence, the pulse duration should be shorter than the thermal relaxation time of the epidermis basal layer, which was estimated to be in the range of 1.6-2.8ms if the epidermal basal layer thickness was 20mm.
It is now our routine approach to test patients with a long pulse 532nm Nd:YAG laser (2ms pulse duration, 6.5J/cm2 fluence, 2mm spot size), and if they respond well, we offer them full treatment. Those who do not wish to have down time, or those who develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation after the test, are offered IPL treatment, which requires several more treatment sessions to achieve the desired clinical outcome.
Café au Lait Patch
The use of lasers in the treatment of the café au lait patch has yielded variable results, and although some early studies indicated complete removal without recurrence, such findings have not always been repeated. Previous studies showed that 510nm pulsed dye lasers and copper vapor lasers can be used successfully, with no recurrence, at least one year after treatment. These reports were confirmed by others. Grossman, et al. used a QS Ruby laser and a frequency double Q-switched Nd:YAG laser, and found that the degree of clearance varied across lesions. Moreover, the categorization of the patches into the two histological sub-types that they identified did not help to predict the extent of the clinical response. We looked at the use of normal-mode ruby laser (NMRL) and compared it to QS Ruby laser in the clearing of café au lait patches in 33 patients. Our preliminary data indicated that there was a lower risk of recurrence when the NMRL was used (42.4% of recurrence, as compared to 81.8% recrrence in those who were treated with QS Ruby laser) 3 months after a single treatment. By affecting the follicular melanocytes, the long-pulse laser may reduce the recurrence rate. Further histological study is necessary to confirm this hypothesis.
Nevus of Ota
Q-switched Alexandrite (QS Alex), QS Ruby, and QS 1064nm Nd:YAG have been used for the treatment of nevus of Ota with excellent results and minimal risk of complications. The clinical efficacy of the QS Ruby was confirmed when Watanabe and Takahashi6 studied 114 nevus of Ota patients and found that a good-to-excellent degree of lightening was achieved after three or more treatment sessions. The side-effects were few, with transient hyperpigmentation after the first treatment being the most common. Studies comparing the use of QS Alex and QS Nd:YAG lasers found that most patients better tolerated the former. However, QS Nd:YAG laser appeared to be more effective than QS Alex in the lightening of nevus of Ota after three or more laser treatment sessions. In terms of complications, hypopigmentation was common, especially among those treated with QS Ruby. The original pigmentation could also recur in patients after complete laser-induced clearing, which is an important issue, especially for pediatric patients. The risk of such recurrence is estimated to be between 0.6% and 1.2%. However, the use of QS Ruby laser for the treatment of nevus of Ota in children can achieve an excellent result in fewer sessions and at a lower complication rate than later treatment. Hence, the advantages and disadvantages of treating nevus of Ota early in childhood should be thoroughly discussed with the patient’s relatives.
Acquired Bilateral Nevus of Ota-like Macules (ABNOM) or Hori’s Macules
Acquired bilateral nevus of Ota-like macules (ABNOM), or Hori’s macules, are a pigmentary disorder that is clinically characterized by speckled or confluent brownish-blue or slate gray pigmentation over the face, and histologically characterized by diffuse upper dermal melanocytosis. Unlike nevus of Ota, the pigmentation occurs in a symmetrical bilateral fashion, has a late onset in adulthood, and does not involve the mucosa.
One hundred forty patients with ABNOM were treated with a Q-switched Ruby laser (7-10J/cm2 fluence at a repetition rate of 1Hz, 2-4mm spot size). Complete clearance was obtained in 131 patients, and hyperpigmentation was observed in 7%. Hypopigmentation persisted in 2.1% of the patients, and there was no recurrence after 6 months to 4.3 years of follow up (mean was 2.5 years). QS Nd:YAG laser was also used to treat ABNOM, and the rate of PIH was estimated to be between 50% and 73%.8 Our group showed that QS Alex laser is effective in the treatment of ABNOM. Post-operative pigmentary changes were frequent, and the use of topical bleaching agents was necessary to achieve a satisfactory result. The risk of transient hypopigmentation was high, and it affected up to 50% of the patients. More recently, a combination approach with a scanned carbon dioxide laser followed by a Q-switched Ruby laser has been found to be effective.
Melanocytic nevi are common, and often removed for cosmetic reasons. Various pigmented lasers have been used in their removal. A previous study using a QS Ruby laser found that an average clearance of 76% occurred after eight treatment sessions.10 However, recurrence can be a problem depending upon the depth of the nests of melanocytes. The use of a normal mode ruby laser (NMRL) for the treatment of melanocytic nevi is based upon the principle that with longer pulse durations, a greater degree of clearance is achieved when nests of cells are destroyed. A combined approach with a QS Ruby laser followed immediately, or 2 weeks later, with an NMRL has more recently been used with the intention of removing the superficial pigment first with the QS Ruby laser, thereby enhancing the penetration of the NMRL. A previous study found that although 52% of the nevi showed a visible reduction in pigment, no lesion had complete histological clearance. The short- and long-term histological findings of congenital nevi that have been treated with the NMRL indicated that subtle microscopic scars of up to 1mm in diameter are frequent. It has been proposed that such scars cover the underlying nevus cells, which leads to cosmetic improvement. Better cosmetic results were produced by first using an NMRL to remove the epidermis, immediately followed by multiple passes of a QS Ruby laser.11 This approach effectively removes the epidermis, and in doing so enables a greater degree of penetration by the QS Ruby, of which multiple passes further enhance the clinical efficacy. A similar approach using a long-pulse pigmented laser immediately followed by multiple passes of a Q-switched pigmented laser can obtain similar results.
For epidermal pigmented lesions, long-pulse pigmented laser or IPL can be effective with a lower risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, especially when used on dark-skinned patients. Q-switched laser is necessary to remove dermal pigment and tattoo in order to avoid the risk of scarring. A combination approach can be used for the removal of melanocytic nevi.
H.H.L. Chan, MD, FRCP1, and T. Kono, MD2
1Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong, China
2Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Tokyo, Japan
Pruritus, or itch, is a common sensation that causes a person to want to scratch. It is a complex process that may negatively impact quality of life and commonly occurs with skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis and urticaria. It could also be a symptom related to an underlying disease process such as cholestasis or hyperthyroidism, or simply be caused by dry skin, especially in the cold, winter months. Therapy is often aimed at eliminating the underlying cause first, followed by the management of the itchy sensation. Treatment may include prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, herbal remedies, hydrotherapy, phototherapy, and ultraviolet therapy. This overview provides information regarding the various management and treatment options for pruritus.
Pathophysiology of Pruritus
Pruritus is a complex process that involves the stimulation of free nerve endings found superficially in the skin. The sensation of pruritus is transmitted through the C-fibers in the skin to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, and then, via the spinothalamic tract to the cerebral cortex for processing. Many chemicals have been found to be pruritogenic, therefore causing the itch sensation, including histamine, serotonin, cytokines, and opioids. There are six categories of pruritus: dermatologic, systemic, neurogenic, psychogenic, mixed, and other. Various treatment and management options exist depending on the category or cause.1
Treatment of pruritus can be categorized in several ways. A common method of grouping the various options is causative vs. symptomatic treatment. Causative treatment involves finding the underlying disorder and then correcting it, thereby eliminating the itch sensation. Symptomatic treatment involves substituting another sensation for the itch, using methods such as cooling, heating, or counter irritation (e.g., scratching). Symptomatic treatment can be used in addition to treating the underlying disease process in order to provide earlier relief. Most of the available treatment options are categorized under symptomatic therapy and management.
Prescription medications include topical and systemic antihistamines, corticosteroids, local anesthetics, and topical immunomodulators, among others. Some lower concentration preparations of these medications are available OTC.
Itching occurs when histamine is released, causing redness, swelling, warmth, and consequently itchiness. Antihistamines, or H1 antagonists, act by blocking the histamines, and are the most widely used medications for this condition. They take approximately 15–30 minutes to be effective and can be short- or long-acting.2
Topical antihistamines are available in prescription as well as nonprescription forms. Camphor (Caladryl®, Pfizer) is a common diphenhydramine preparation that has both antipruritic and anesthetic properties. This traditional therapy carries with it a small risk of contact dermatitis and allergic sensitization.3
Ultraviolet (UV) Light Therapy
UV phototherapy is used to treat various pruritic conditions including chronic renal failure; AD; HIV; aquagenic pruritus; solar, chronic, and idiopathic urticaria; urticaria pigmentosa; polycythemia vera; pruritic folliculitis of pregnancy; breast carcinoma skin infiltration; Hodgkin’s lymphoma; chronic liver disease; and acquired perforating dermatoses, among others. It is often undertaken after multiple attempts to treat stubborn itch, and can offer relief without many of the side-effects and risks of systemic medications. UV-based therapy utilizes UVB and UVA in both broadband and narrowband, as well as PUVA (psoralen UVA). Cost and side-effects can be a prohibitive factor for patients. Erythema is common in UVB, as is premature aging and photocarcinogenesis with both UVA and UVB. Side-effects associated with PUVA include redness, burning, headache, and nausea.16,19
UVA, UVB, and PUVA light therapies have been especially useful in the treatment of pruritus in HIV patients, as well as in those patients with systemic mastocytosis and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. It localizes the effect on the superficial nerve endings, sparing the remaining helper cells, and relieving the pruritus. Because of its more superficial penetration, UVB is believed to be safer than UVA. UVB also spares the remaining helper cells in HIV patients and may localize the effect on the superficial nerve endings, thus relieving pruritus. Systemic mastocytosis and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma also respond to UV therapy and because destruction of the proliferating CD4 clone is desirable, UVA is usually the preferred modality over UVB, although Millikan suggests that the relief of pruritus is more predictable with UVB than with UVA.3
Cutaneous Field Stimulation (CFS)
CFS, which electrically stimulates thin afferent fibers, including nocireceptive C-fibers, was reported to inhibit histamine-induced itching. The reduction in itching is accompanied by degeneration of the epidermal nerve fibers. In one open trial, localized itching responded to CFS treatment, and pruritus was reduced by 49% at the end of 5 weeks. Itch relapsed gradually after the discontinuation of CFS, which led the researchers to conclude that nerve fibers regenerated into the epidermis.20
In addition to the nonprescription medications mentioned above, there are other OTC treatments that can be helpful for treating and managing pruritus. Moisturizing after a bath is extremely important, and emollients such as white petrolatum, or petrolatum depositing moisturizing body washes, and in-shower moisturizers (e.g., Olay® Ribbons®, Procter & Gamble; emulsifying ointment USP) can be helpful when applied while the skin is still wet.21
There is new evidence to show that moisturizers containing niacinamide and glycerin (e.g., Olay® Quench®, Procter & Gamble) not only hydrate the skin, but improve the skin’s resistance to external factors and improve the barrier function. Glycerin is required for moisturizers to work quickly and add moisture to the skin, but the niacinamide helps to sustain that benefit over a longer period of time.21
Several alternatives to traditional treatment of pruritus have been proposed. Often these therapies can be used in conjunction with prescribed or OTC medications to relieve symptoms quickly. Compounds that have been found to be effective for pruritus by depressing cutaneous sensory receptors include menthol, camphor, and phenol.7 Some other alternative therapies that have been suggested include herbal remedies, nutritional therapy, reflex therapy, and hydrotherapy.3
Several herbs have been proposed as corticosteroid-sparing agents and may provide a viable alternative to topical steroids and their side-effects. Oatmeal baths appear to be most useful because of its colloidal protein and high mucilaginous content. Other herbs have been suggested because of their high mucilage content as well, including flax, fenugreek, English plantain, hearts ease, marshmallow, mulberry, mullein, and slippery elm.3 More extensive research needs to be conducted regarding their possible use and effectiveness for the treatment of pruritus.
Tannins, also derived from herbs, may be helpful as well. The exact mechanism of action is unclear, but may perhaps be related to the coagulation of proteins in the skin. The most common tannin-containing herb is witch hazel, but others include oak bar, English walnut leaf, goldenrod, Labrador tea, lady’s mantel, lavender, and St. John’s wort.
Other possible herbs that may be advantageous include chamomile, which has shown to be equivalent to low concentrations of hydrocortisone, aloe vera, and capsaicin.3 Some side-effects may include irritant or allergic contact dermatitis. Some herbals can be toxic if ingested as well. Some of the oldest group of medications used to soothe and cool pruritic skin is menthol and camphor, which are both considered low risk and safe to use topically. 3,4
Nutritional therapy, despite not being sufficiently researched as a monotherapy for pruritus, may be helpful in combination with other anti-itch treatments. Vitamins D and E, and linolenic acid have shown some efficacy in the treatment of psoriasis and atopic eczema.3
Reflex Therapy, Acupuncture, and Hydrotherapy
While they are not traditionally used, reflex therapy, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy are three treatments that may be beneficial as adjunctive therapy, however further research is needed. There is little research available regarding the effectiveness of reflex therapy and hydrotherapy. These options may be considered in difficult-to-treat patients where traditional approaches have been unsuccessful. Acupuncture is based on the gate theory of neurotransmission, however it is infrequently used in the Western world, and therefore has insufficient evidence to fully support its use. 3
The management of symptoms is paramount in the treatment of pruritus. Patients should be educated regarding the self-care aspects of this condition. Eliminating the use of irritating or tight clothing is recommended, as well as maintaining a cool environment. Patients should avoid the frequent use of soap, topical irritants in clothing, dry environments, and vasodilators such as caffeine, alcohol, and hot water. Patients should be advised to take brief, tepid or lukewarm baths using mild cleansers with a low pH. Soap film should be rinsed off completely and skin should be patted lightly, followed by the generous application of a moisturizing lotion or cream.4,7,22
Pruritus is a common complaint, but one that can often be a challenge to treat. It can be a major quality of life issue for patients, so it is important that both the underlying disease and associated symptoms are treated as quickly and effectively as possible. Health teaching regarding the prevention and management of pruritus should be included in the overall treatment of the cause and symptoms.
P. Lovell, RN, BScN1; R. B. Vender, MD, FRCPC2
1. Michael DeGroote School of Medicine McMaster University
2. Dermatrials Research, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Safety, Efficacy & Recurrence Rates of Imiquimod Cream 5% for Treatment of Anogenital Warts
M.L. Diamantis, BS1; B.L. Bartlett, MD2; S.K. Tyring, MD, PhD3
1. The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX
2. Center for Clinical Studies, Houston, TX
3. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Center for Clinical Studies, Houston, TX
Imiquimod 5% cream (Aldara™, Graceway Pharmaceuticals) is an immune response modifier used for the topical treatment of anogenital warts in non-HIV-infected patients. Several randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that imiquimod 5% cream is a safe and efficacious treatment. Current data regarding efficacy shows that complete clearance of warts occurred in up to 50% of patients treated with imiquimod 5% cream applied once-daily, 3 times per week for up to 16 weeks. Recurrence rates ranged from up to 19% at 3 months to 23% at 6 months. Imiquimod 5% cream showed an acceptable safety profile; local inflammatory reactions were the most frequent adverse effects, with local erythema being the most common.
Imiquimod is an immune response modifier that was approved by the US FDA in 1997 for the topical treatment of anogenital warts in individuals 12 years old and older. An estimated 30%-50% of sexually active adults in the US are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), and approximately 1%-2% of this same population have clinically evident genital warts.1 This review will focus on studies that evaluate the safety, efficacy, and recurrence rates of imiquimod 5% cream in the treatment of anogenital warts in non-HIV-infected men and women. Local inflammatory reactions were the most frequent adverse effects, with local erythema being the most common. Overall, imiquimod 5% cream is a safe and efficacious treatment for anogenital warts.
Imiquimod cream is supplied in individual packets. Each gram of the 5% cream contains 50mg of imiquimod in an off-white oil-in-water vanishing cream base.2 The US Center for Disease Control recommends that imiquimod 5% cream be applied once daily at bedtime, 3 times per week for up to 16 weeks. The product should be washed off with mild soap and water 6-10 hours following application.2-4 Many considerations exist when using imiquimod. Some of these are listed in Box 1. The US FDA provides a full list of considerations.3
Mechanism of Action
Imiquimod is a Toll-like receptor agonist that induces the production of local cytokines from predominantly T helper (Th) 1-type cells, thus stimulating both acquired and cellular immunity, which is important for fighting virus-infected and tumor cells.5-7 Cytokines such as interferon (INF)-á, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-á, interleukin (IL)-1, -6, -8, -10, and -12 stimulate tissue-specific apoptosis of virus-infected keratinocytes, thus leading to a viral load reduction of HPV types 6 and 11 with subsequent wart regression and normalization of keratinocyte proliferation.5,6,8 Regression of warts after treatment with imiquimod is strongly associated with evidence of tissue production of INF-á, -â, and -ã and TNF-á as well as a decrease in the presence of HPV DNA and in the expression of mRNA for both early and late viral proteins.9
Points to consider when using imiquimod:
Box 1: Information for patients being treated for external genital warts3
In all the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examined, topical imiquimod 5% cream showed an acceptable safety profile. Local skin reactions are associated with a local inflammatory reaction including itching, erythema, burning, irritation, tenderness, ulceration, erosion, and pain.10 In several studies, local erythema was the most common reaction.11-13 There were no differences in adverse systemic reactions or flu-like symptoms among treatment groups.10,12,13 The optimal dosing regimen is 3 times per week. With more frequent applications (up to 3 times daily), wart clearance does not improve significantly and is associated with an increase in local adverse events, such as erythema, vesicle formation, ulceration, and excoriation.14 Imiquimod 5% cream is effective for up to 16 weeks of treatment for external anogenital warts and is well-tolerated for up to 32 weeks.11 Imiquimod is contraindicated in individuals with a history of sensitivity reactions to any of its components and should be discontinued if hypersensitivity to any of its ingredients is noted. Overall, patient-applied imiquimod 5% cream is an effective treatment for external genital warts and has a favorable safety profile.
Efficacy and Recurrence
Several randomized controlled trials demonstrated that imiquimod 5% cream is an efficacious treatment for external anogenital warts when applied 3 times per week for up to 16 weeks. Complete clearance of warts occurred in up to 50% of patients treated with imiquimod 5% cream applied 3 times daily. At the end of 16 weeks, recurrence rates ranged from up to 19% after 3 months and 23% after 6 months.11 See Table 1 for comparisons. The recurrence rates of external genital warts were found to be similar at both 3- and 6-month follow-up, suggesting that after 3 months, the risk of developing recurrence is low.15
The studies that follow were chosen to evaluate imiquimod 5% cream for the treatment of anogenital warts because of sufficient data on efficacy, recurrence rates, and safety.10-13 Studies that did not include this data were excluded. Several other studies focused on the treatment of anogenital or vulvar warts in the female population; however, the efficacy rates are generally higher for this population, ranging from 71%-77%.12,16-18 To maintain continuity, this review focuses on comparing studies that include treatment of anogenital warts with imiquimod 5% cream in non-HIV-infected men and women.
Detailed Findings of This Study Can be Found Indexed by the US National Library of Medicine and PubMed
Monotherapy Compared with Combination Therapy: Imiquimod + Surgery
Carrasco et al.19 showed that treatment with imiquimod 5% cream followed by excision of remaining warts resulted in a lower recurrence rate compared with surgery alone. This strategy represents a viable option for those with residual lesions and may provide long-term clearance of anogenital warts in patients for whom imiquimod monotherapy is insufficient.19
Patient-applied imiquimod 5% cream is a first-line topical treatment for anogenital warts that is both safe and efficacious, and yields complete and partial responses in the majority of patients. Various studies demonstrate complete clearance rates of up to 50% and partial responses manifest as a 50%-90% reduction in baseline wart area.12-14 Recurrence rates range up to 19% at 3 months and 23% at 6 months. More studies are needed to compare the efficacy of combination therapies vs. monotherapy vs. other treatment modalities. Longer follow-up is also needed to evaluate recurrence rates after monotherapy, as well as in combination with other treatments for anogenital warts.
Milia, also known as milk spots or oil seeds, are benign, keratin-filled cysts that can appear just under the epidermis or on the roof of the mouth. They are commonly associated with newborn babies but can appear on people of all ages. They are usually found around the nose and eyes, and sometimes on the genitalia, often mistaken by those infected as warts or other STDs.
In children milia often disappears within two to four weeks. In adults it may require removal by a physician or an esthetician. Milia can sometimes be a result of harsh face washes or from repeated heat stress from hot showering on people with sensitive skins. Milia can be confused with stubborn whiteheads.
A seborrheic keratosis (also known as “Seborrheic verruca,” “Senile keratosis,” and “Senile wart”) is a noncancerous benign skin growth that originates in keratinocytes. Like liver spots, seborrheic keratoses are seen more often as people age. In fact they are sometimes humorously referred to as the “barnacles of old age”.
They appear in various colors, from light tan to black. They are round or oval, feel flat or slightly elevated (like the scab from a healing wound), and range in size from very small to more than 2.5 centimetres (1.0 in) across. They can resemble warts, though they have no viral origins. They can also resemble melanoma skin cancer, though they are unrelated to melanoma as well. Because only the top layers of the epidermis are involved, seborrheic keratoses are often described as having a “pasted on” appearance. Some dermatologists refer to seborrheic keratoses as “seborrheic warts”, however these lesions are usually not associated with HPV, and therefore such nomenclature should be discouraged.
Seborrheic keratoses may be divided into the following types:
* Common seborrheic keratosis (Basal cell papilloma, Solid seborrheic keratosis)
* Reticulated seborrheic keratosis (Adenoid seborrheic keratosis)
Reticulated seborrheic keratosis (also known as “Adenoid seborrheic keratosis”) is a common benign cutaneous condition characterized by a skin lesion with a dull or lackluster surface, and with keratin cysts seen histologically.
* Stucco keratosis (Digitate seborrheic keratosis, Hyperkeratotic seborrheic keratosis, Serrated seborrheic keratosis, Verrucous seborrheic
keratosis) Stucco keratosis (also known as “Digitate seborrheic keratosis,” “Hyperkeratotic seborrheic keratosis,” “Serrated seborrheic keratosis,” and “Verrucous seborrheic keratosis”) is a common benign cutaneous condition characterized by a skin lesion with a dull or lackluster surface, and with church-spire-like projections of epidermal cells around collagen seen histologically.
* Clonal seborrheic keratosis
Clonal seborrheic keratosis is a common benign cutaneous condition characterized by a skin lesion with a dull or lackluster surface, and with round, loosely packed nests of cells seen histologically.
* Irritated seborrheic keratosis (Basosquamous cell acanthoma, Inflamed seborrheic keratosis)
* Seborrheic keratosis with squamous atypia
Seborrheic keratosis with squamous atypia is a less common cutaneous condition characterized by a skin lesion with a dull or lackluster surface, and with round, loosely packed nests of cells seen histologically.
* Melanoacanthoma (Pigmented seborrheic keratosis)
Melanoacanthoma (also known as “Pigmented seborrheic keratosis”) is a common, benign, darkly pigmented cutaneous condition characterized by a skin lesion with a dull or lackluster surface.
* Dermatosis papulosa nigra
Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN) is a condition of many small, benign skin lesions on that face that closely simulate seborrheic keratoses, a condition generally presenting on dark-skinned individuals.
They should not be confused for Leser-Trélat sign, a sudden explosion of lesions due to a growing tumor.
* The sign of Leser-Trélat
The Leser-Trélat sign is the explosive onset of multiple seborrheic keratoses (many pigmented skin lesions), often with an inflammatory base. This can be an ominous sign of internal malignancy as part of a paraneoplastic syndrome. In addition to the development of new lesions, preexisting ones frequently increase in size and become symptomatic. It is named for Edmund Leser and Ulysse Trélat.
Although most associated neoplasms are gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas (stomach, liver, colorectal and pancreas), breast, lung, and urinary tract cancers, as well as lymphoid malignancies are associated with this impressive rash. It is likely that various cytokines and other growth factors produced by the neoplasm are responsible for the abrupt appearance of the seborrheic keratoses. In some cases, paraneoplastic acanthosis nigricans accompanies the sign of Leser-Trélat.
Variances of Seborrheic Keratosis:
Dermatosis Papulosis Nigra: Often are small papules. Pinpoint to a few millimeters in size. More commonly found in dark-skinned persons.
Stucco Keratosis: Often are light brown to off-white. Pinpoint to a few millimeters in size. Often found on the distal tibia, ankle, and foot.
Diagnosis: Visual diagnosis is made by the “stuck on” appearance, horny pearls or cysts embedded in the structure. Darkly pigmented lesions can be hard to distinguish from nodular melanomas. If in doubt, a skin biopsy should be performed. Thin seborrheic keratoses on facial skin can be very difficult to differentiate from lentigo maligna even with dermatoscopy.
Clinically, epidermal nevi are similar to seborrheic keratoses in appearance. Epidermal nevi are usually present at or near birth. Condylomas and warts can clinically resemble seborrheic keratoses, and dermatoscopy can be helpful. On the penis and genital skin, differentiation between condylomas and seborrheic keratoses can be difficult and may require a skin biopsy.
When correctly diagnosed, no treatment is necessary. There is a small risk of localized infection caused by picking at the lesion. If a growth becomes excessively itchy or is irritated by clothing or jewelry, it can be removed by cryosurgery.
Small lesions can be treated with light electrocautery. Larger lesions can be treated with electrodessication and curettage, shave excision, or cryotherapy. When correctly performed, removal of seborrheic keratoses will not cause much visible scarring except in darkly colored persons.
The cause of seborrheic keratosis is unclear. Because they are common on sun-exposed areas such as the back, arms, face, and neck, ultraviolet light
may play a role, as may genetics. A mutation of a gene coding for a growth factor receptor, (FGFR3), has been associated with seborrheic keratosis.
The term “seborrheic keratosis” combines the adjective form of seborrhea, keratinocyte (referring to the part of the epidermis that produces keratin), and the suffix -osis, meaning abnormal.
A skin tag is a common, acquired benign skin growth that looks like a small piece of hanging skin. Skin tags are often described as bits of skin- or flesh-colored tissue that projects from the surrounding skin from a small, narrow stalk. They typically occur in characteristic locations including the neck, underarms, eyelids, and under the breasts (especially where underwire bras rub directly beneath the breasts). Although skin tags may vary somewhat in appearance, they are usually smooth or slightly wrinkled and irregular, flesh-colored or slightly more brown, and hang from the skin by a small stalk. Early or beginning skin tags may be as small as a flattened pinpoint-sized bump around the neck. Some skin tags may be as large as a big grape.
Where do skin tags occur?
Skin tags can occur almost anywhere there is skin. However, favorite areas for tags are the eyelids, neck, armpits, upper chest (particularly under the female breasts), and groin folds. Tags are typically thought to occur in characteristic locations where skin rubs against skin or clothing.
Who tends to get skin tags?
Nearly half of the population is reported to have skin tags at some time. Although tags are generally acquired (not present at birth) and may occur in anyone, more often they arise in adulthood. They are much more common in middle age and they tend to increase in prevalence up to age 60. Children and toddlers may also develop skin tags in the underarm and neck areas. Since they are thought to arise more readily in areas of skin friction or rubbing, tags are also more common in overweight people.
|Picture of skin tags|
Hormone elevations, such as those seen during pregnancy, may cause an increase in the formation of skin tags, as skin tags are more frequent in pregnant women. Tags may be easily removed during or after pregnancy.
Skin tags are a benign condition and not directly associated with any other major medical conditions, since tags are commonly found on healthy people.
Is a skin tag a tumor?
Skin tags are a type of growth or tumor, albeit a completely benign and harmless one. Tags are not cancerous (malignant) and not found to have potential to become cancerous if left untreated.
What does a skin tag look like under a microscope?
The outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) shows overgrowth (hyperplasia), and it encloses an underlying layer of skin (the dermis) in which the normally-present collagen fibers appear abnormally loose and swollen. Usually there are no hairs, moles, or other skin structures present in skin tags.
What problems do skin tags cause?
These tiny skin growths generally cause no symptoms unless they are repeatedly irritated as, for example, by the collar or in the groin. Cosmetic removal for unsightly appearance is perhaps the most common reason they are removed. Occasionally, a tag may require removal because it has become irritated and red from bleeding (hemorrhage) or black from twisting and dying of the skin tissue (necrosis). Sometimes they may become snagged by clothing, jewelry, pets, or seatbelts, causing pain or discomfort. Overall these are very benign growths that have no cancer (malignant) potential.
Occasionally a tag may spontaneously fall off without any pain or discomfort. This may occur after the tag has twisted on itself at the stalk base, interrupting the blood flow to the tag.
Hormonal changes and overly active sebaceous (oil) glands that commonly occur in adolescence usually cause acne, however acne can still affect adults as well. Zits, pimples, acne, cystic skin eruptions, blackheads and white heads all fit into the acne skin malady category.
The temptation to squeeze the spots and remove the infected matter, albeit tempting, will not reform your skin to its natural radiance. In fact, secondary infection by bacteria being pushed back into the deeper layers of the skin can cause more pain, inflammation and most likely future scaring. Once the bacteria have been released, it can re-infect the surrounding skin. The facial scars are actually remnants of the bacterial infection caused by ‘procedure.’
The unfair fact is that adult acne will affect 25 percent of men and 50 percent of women in their adult lives. We know that identifying hormonal changes as the main cause of adult acne aren’t entirely proven. There isn’t just one cause. Acne in adult women can be linked to cosmetic use, some hair products and can frequently be brought on by the hormonal fluctuations associated with pregnancy. Certain types of prescription medications can also cause adult acne. Some strains of acne, such as Acne vulgaris, don’t typically show up in adults until midlife. Adult acne also forms differently, whereas adolescent acne begins on the forehead and cheek area, adult acne tends to show more on the chin, jaw line and neck.
With all this new adult acne erupting (pardon the pun) more than before, natural acne and scar treatments are gaining more acceptance as consumers want to make healthier more sustainable choices for their skincare.
Your skin has an amazing natural ability to regenerate itself and a new layer of skin growth will generally cover any scarring, but in the rare cases where this does not occur then a more advanced scar treatment is in order. Always consult with your doctor or dermatologist before beginning any facial treatments to be sure you are not causing further damage.
A healthy, well-balanced diet plays a large role in helping your body and skin to regenerate itself to its optimal condition. Many dermatologists recommend a diet high in natural minerals. These minerals are to maintain the health of the skin cells, which in turn should prevent a further outbreak of acne and repair damaged tissue. Diets, which include plenty of green vegetables, un-cooked vegetables such as carrots, spinach and cucumbers, have also helped many to maintain smooth, blemish-free skin. The idea is to try to create a new fresh layer of skin so that the scars reduced or eradicated.
Are you drinking enough water?
By consuming a regular amount of water daily, you can improve the look of your skin. The average human body is comprised of 60 percent water. Drinking more water, instead of sugar-laden sodas or energy drinks will keep the skin moist and smooth; it will also clear away the dead skin cells, flush toxins and aid in the regeneration of new skin cells. Mixing water with natural ingredients like citrus, fruit or vegetable juices, can also be helpful to exfoliate the skin.
With a proper nutritious diet, vitamins and plenty of water, most see results within a few months. It can take up to a year for acne scars to heal completely. Acne scars do not show up overnight and removing them can take the same amount of time if not more. It takes patience, but with the proper motivation for beautiful, glowing skin, it will be well worth the wait.
Of course, some scars may be so deep as to require dermalogical treatments such as lasers or painful acid peels. Try the natural methods first, as theses procedures can be quite costly. Any effort you make to regenerate your skin naturally will only help the dermatologist’s treatments even further.
Always remember to gently cleanse and moisturize your skin everyday as well. Applying harsh, drying chemicals to your acne will usually cause further inflammation and breakouts. One natural treatment that had shown good results is to mix pure sandalwood oil with rose water, apply it to your scar(s) and leave on the skin overnight. Cleanse face as usual in the morning.