3 Unusual Conditions A Dermatologist Should Treat
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Most people assume that dermatologists work exclusively on skin issues, such as acne or mole removal. While many of the most common conditions we work with do involve the skin, dermatologists can treat a much wider array of conditions that may surprise most people, including autoimmune disorders.
The Most Common Conditions Dermatologists Treat
Dermatologists treat anything that affects skin, hair, and nails. These can include minor issues, such as warts and dry skin, all the way up to skin cancer and even auto-immune diseases.
Hair loss, or alopecia, is a common issue facing both men and women. While, in some cases, hair loss is an inevitable sign of aging due to genetics or predisposition, other forms of alopecia are treatable.
A skin disorder can range dramatically in severity and treatment difficulty. The most common skin conditions we deal with include:
- Minor and severe acne
- Skin cancer
- Atopic dermatitis
- Skin infections
Nails are also vulnerable to several conditions that can dramatically impact the quality of your life. Growths within the nail bed or lesions under the nail can cause the nail to flake off, making it easier for infections to penetrate.
These conditions are very painful and unpleasant to deal with, so it’s always a great idea to visit a dermatologist if you notice any significant changes to your nails.
How Do I Know Whether to Visit My Primary Care Physician or a Dermatologist?
While it’s always a good idea to consult with your primary care physician, you can also call a dermatologist if the issue you have involves your skin, nails, or hair. When you ask your practitioner for a referral, make sure to ask for a board-certified dermatologist. Board-certified dermatologists specialize in skin, nail, and hair conditions and have studied the field extensively after their general medical training. We are the go-to specialists for the effective treatment of any chronic skin condition, skin cancer, hair loss, and even auto-immune disease.
What Are 3 Uncommon Ailments People Don’t Know a Dermatologist Can Help With?
Very few people know that dermatologists can help individuals with the symptoms of auto-immune disease. Many auto-immune diseases attack the body’s skin, hair, and nails, causing visible and uncomfortable symptoms. Dermatologists are often able to offer excellent treatment options that reduce the severity of symptoms and allow our patients to regain their quality of life.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes patchy hair loss all over the body. The disorder arises from the immune system attacking hair follicles, resulting in concentrated hair loss in a part of the body. It’s most visible on the head, where the bald spots may connect to create larger patches.
Many patients with alopecia areata find that the problem worsens under extreme stress. While we can’t completely cure the condition, we can help patients manage this autoimmune disorder. A common treatment consists of topical steroids that lower the effect of the immune system in that spot. We can also inject steroids into the scalp if the topical steroids don’t work.
We may even recommend systemic steroids in severe cases to reduce the body’s overall immune response. These systemic steroids affect overall immune system function, so we need to balance the risks and benefits of this treatment before proceeding.
Bullous pemphigoid is another autoimmune condition where the body produces antibodies against its own skin cells. The result is blistering all over the skin, from head to toe. Not only is this skin condition painful and socially concerning for most patients, but it can also lead to more severe infections and harmful disease states later in life.
Since bullous pemphigoid affects the entirety of the skin, dermatologists usually go straight for systemic steroids to suppress the immune system. I’ve had many patients concerned about this type of treatment, worried that it would make it much easier to get sick or pick up an infection during their normal routine. As a dermatologist, I weigh the risks and benefits with my patients and walk the fine line between keeping them healthy and treating their autoimmune disorders.
Chromhidrosis causes the patient to produce colored sweat. The sweat can be almost any color, including green, brown, blue, or even black. It’s secondary to a product called lipofuscin, which produces pigment as it oxidizes. The more the product oxidizes, the darker the pigment becomes.
When we see someone that has Chromhidrosis typically we need to aim treatment at reducing the sweating because it’s very difficult to treat the lipofuscin itself; however, if we can minimize the amount of sweating the person has, then we are going to reduce their symptoms.
To do that, we have topical treatments that can be used as well as products such as Botox (which is an injectable treatment).
Why Don’t Patients Realize There Is So Much More a Dermatologist Can Help With?
Unless you’re a walking medical textbook, it’s impossible to know all of the 3,000 conditions that dermatologists can treat. In many cases, the only reason a patient knows about a less common disorder is that someone in their family also has it. If you’ve never experienced it or don’t know someone affected by a rare condition, there’s absolutely no reason you should know about it.
I don’t expect my patients to know every condition that I can treat or even know that I’m the specialist they should see. Dermatologists work closely with primary care providers for this reason. If a patient comes in and says, “I have all of these symptoms,” it’s up to the primary care provider to get in touch and say, “You’re the skin, nail, and hair specialist. Can you take a look at this patient?”
What I don’t expect is for the primary care physician to read the dermatology textbooks and make the diagnosis themselves. Medicine is a collaborative effort, and the more that health providers work together, the better the results for our patients.
Why Akron DSC?
Akron Dermatology, Surgery and Cosmetics (DSC) of Northeast Ohio is a collective of board-certified dermatologists who provide expert care for all of your hair, nail, and skin conditions. We understand the underlying principles of skin diseases and provide our patients with comprehensive, effective treatment for any condition affecting their hair, nails, or skin. You don’t have to suffer alone. Contact us today to schedule your consultation at our facility in Medina. Our expert staff will address your personal needs and help you decide on a treatment plan so you can look your very best!