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Posts for category: Skin Conditions

By Rocky Mountain Dermatology
December 14, 2018
Category: Skin Conditions
Tags: Hives  

Hive outbreaks can be very itchyDiscover more about this common skin condition, and what you can do to treat your itchy symptoms.

What are hives? What are the symptoms of hives?

Also referred to as urticaria, hives are characterized by an outbreak of red bumps that suddenly show up on skin. Hives can appear anywhere on the body and often cause itching, burning and stinging. Some hives may be small, while others might form alongside  other bumps to create larger swellings.

What causes hives?

The most common causes of hives are foods, medications, and infections. Hives can also be triggered by insect bites. Foods that often bring about hives include dairy, fish, nuts and eggs. Medications such as aspirin and other over­the­counter anti­inflammatories like ibuprofen have also been known to cause hives.

There is another form of hives known as physical urticaria, which is triggered by and external physical factor such as cold, pressure, heat, exercise or sweating. This variety of hives usually appears within an hour after contact with one of these elements.

Are hives dangerous?

The majority of hives outbreaks are not dangerous ­ however, if you also experience dizziness, problems breathing, swelling of the face or tightness in your chest, then you should call for emergency assistance immediately! These can be signs of a life­threatening allergic reaction.

How are hives treated?

If you know what might be triggering your outbreaks, the best thing you can do is remove the trigger right away and avoid it as much as possible. Some people are able to take over­the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl to help relieve the itching. However, those with chronic hives may need to take a stronger antihistamine in combination with corticosteroids.

If you experience a severe outbreak, an epinephrine injection will need to be administered right away. Again, seek medical attention immediately!

To help relieve symptoms until the hives go away, you can also apply cold compresses to the areas to help ease any burning or itching. Also keep your bedroom and living space cool and opt for roomier clothing that won’t rub against the infected areas and exacerbate itching.

How long do hives last?

Some cases of hives clear up in only a few hours, while some can last for a full day before starting to fade.

If you are dealing with a nasty bout of hives that over­the­counter remedies don’t seem to fix, then it might be time to talk to your dermatologist about other treatment options. Call our office to schedule an appointment right away!

By Rocky Mountain Dermatology
September 28, 2018
Category: Skin Conditions
Tags: Shingles   Chickenpox  

Shingles is a painful conditionWhat are the symptoms of and treatments for this painful dermatological condition?

Did you know that anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for shingles, and that those over the age of 50 are more likely to develop this condition? Approximately one out of three Americans will have shingles at some point in their lives. Read on to learn more about this common problem.

What is shingles?

Shingles is caused by a virus known as the varicella­zoster virus, which is the same virus known to cause chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox before the virus never truly goes away. Instead it lies dormant within the nerves of the spinal cord and brain. When the virus is reactivated, it manifests as shingles.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

The main symptom of shingles is a red, painful rash that usually appears on one side of the body. The rash may be tender to the touch and typically causes intense itching. The rash is made up of blisters that burst and crust over. Your rash may also be accompanied by malaise, fever, or headache.

What are the risk factors for shingles?

Anyone who has been infected by chickenpox can have shingles. However, this illness is more common in those over the age of 50 and the risk continues to increase as you age.

Also, those who have a weakened immune system due to certain chronic diseases like HIV, or those currently undergoing cancer treatment may be at an increased risk of developing shingles.

Different shingles treatments

While there is no cure for this disease there are antiviral medications you can take to promote faster healing and to reduce your risk of developing other complications. If you are experiencing severe pain, we may also recommend prescription pain medications or creams to help ease your symptoms. Most people experience shingles symptoms for about two to six weeks.

Can I prevent shingles?

There are two vaccines that we recommend for preventing shingles. The first is the chickenpox vaccine, which is recommended for children and any adults who have never had chickenpox. The second vaccine is the shingles vaccine. While these vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, they can greatly reduce your chances of developing shingles.

If your shingles rash has developed near your eye or is severely painful, then it’s time to see your dermatologist right away for treatment.

By Rocky Mountain Dermatology
July 05, 2017
Category: Skin Conditions
Tags: Skin Cancer   Moles  

Although moles are usually harmless, in some cases they can become cancerous, causing melanoma. For this reason, it is important to molesregularly examine your skin for any moles that change in size, color, shape, sensation or that bleed.  Suspicious or abnormal moles or lesions should always be examined by your dermatologist.

What to Look For

Remember the ABCDE's of melanoma when examining your moles. If your mole fits any of these criteria, you should visit your dermatologist as soon as possible.  

  • Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.
  • Border. The border or edges of the mole are poorly defined or irregular.
  • Color. The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white or red.
  • Diameter. The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
  • Evolution. The mole is changing in size, shape or color.

Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, including the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles of the feet and even under the nails. The best way to detect skin cancer in its earliest, most curable stage is by checking your skin regularly and visiting our office for a full-body skin cancer screening. Use this guide to perform a self-exam.

  • Use a mirror to examine your entire body, starting at your head and working your way to the toes. Also be sure to check difficult to see areas, including between your fingers and toes, the groin, the soles of your feet and the backs of your knees.
  • Pay special attention to the areas exposed to the most sun.
  • Don't forget to check your scalp and neck for moles. Use a handheld mirror or ask a family member to help you.
  • Develop a mental note or keep a record of all the moles on your body and what they look like. If they do change in any way (color, shape, size, border, etc.), or if any new moles look suspicious, visit your dermatologist right away.  

Skin cancer has a high cure rate if detected and treated early. The most common warning sign is a visible change on the skin, a new growth, or a change in an existing mole. Depending on the size and location of the mole, dermatologists may use different methods of mole removal. A body check performed by a dermatologist can help determine whether the moles appearing on the body are pre-cancerous or harmless.