What are cold sores and what can you do to relieve your symptoms?
Most people who have had cold sores often know when they are about to appear. The tingling and burning sensation around the mouth is often the first indicator that a cold sore is imminent. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of Americans have been exposed to the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), which causes cold sores. If you have cold sores then you are probably wondering more about this condition, how to treat it and what it means for your health.
What are the symptoms of cold sores?
Symptoms often stick around for about two to three weeks. Besides experiencing oral sores around the mouth, people may also experience flulike symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and fatigue. These oral sores will often appear as tiny blisters that break open and scab over.
When should I see a doctor about cold sores?
While cold sores often don’t warrant a trip to the dermatologist, there are certain times when it might be advisable. These sores can be painful, so if you find it difficult to eat or talk then you will want to talk to your doctor about the best ways to alleviate the pain to make eating easier. The last thing you want to deal with is dehydration on top of an outbreak.
If these oral sores look different from other cold sore outbreaks, then it’s also worth seeing your dermatologist to receive a proper diagnosis. Those with weakened immune systems due to chronic illness or chemotherapy should also see their dermatologist to prevent further complications.
What treatments are available for cold sores?
While many cold sores will go away without the need for treatment, if you are experiencing pain we may prescribe a topical anesthetic to reduce your discomfort. There are also overthe-counter treatments that speed up healing and reduce pain. However, for those with severe infections your dermatologist may also prescribe an oral antiviral medication.
Those with weak immune systems and those who become dehydrated as a result of cold sores may need to go to the hospital to prevent further problems and to receive oral antivirals.
While you cannot cure the virus that causes cold sores, there are certainly ways to reduce your symptoms. Talk to your dermatologist to find out more!
Rashes will happen to most people at some point during their lifetime, whether it’s from coming in contact with poison ivy while on a camping trip or from an allergic reaction to a skincare product. While most rashes aren’t anything to worry about, we know that the other symptoms that accompany them—redness, itching and burning—can be annoying. Find out the most common causes for rashes and when your rash requires an evaluation from a dermatologist.
What causes a rash?
There are a variety of reasons rashes develop. Your rash could be caused by:
- Contact dermatitis
- Certain medications
- Heat rash
- Viral infections
- Asthma or allergies
- Bug bite
- Poison ivy, oak and sumac
When do you seek medical attention?
Most rashes will go away on their own and won’t require medical attention; however, while all rashes might look the same it’s also important to be able to recognize when a rash is serious enough that it needs to be evaluated by a skin doctor. Since there are so many different things that can cause a rash it’s important to have a proper diagnosis so you know exactly how to treat it.
You should have a rash checked out if:
- It’s all over your body
- It’s accompanied by a fever
- It’s painful
- It’s showing signs of an infection (oozing; warm to the touch; swelling)
- It’s blistering
- It appears suddenly and continues to spread quickly
How do you treat a rash?
The treatment plan your dermatologist creates for you will really depend on the cause of your rash. Sometimes over-the-counter creams such as hydrocortisone or calamine lotion can help manage itching and other symptoms until the rash goes away. Oatmeal baths can also be soothing for rashes caused by poison ivy or poison oak. While the rash heals, avoid using any products on your skin that contain fragrances or harsh chemicals. Try not to cover the rash, as it needs to be able to breathe.
If you do have to come in for an evaluation, we will provide you with the proper medication or treatment necessary to get rid of the root cause of the rash. It’s important that you follow the treatment as prescribed in order to effectively get rid of the rash.
Learn some fun facts about these common skin blemishes.
Birthmarks are extremely common, appearing on about 80 percent of babies at birth. Even if you don’t have a birthmark, chances are good that you know someone who does. However, how much do you actually know about these dermatological markings? There are a lot of facts and folklore surrounding birthmarks and why they appear. Find out how much you really know!
Your Birthmark Is Not Caused By Your Mother!
There are many folk tales surrounding the expectant mother’s influence on whether or not her child has a birthmark. Some cultures believe that a birthmark is associated with the mother’s unfulfilled want or need, while others believe that certain foods that the mother eats or activities that she participates in can cause birthmarks to appear on her newborn. However, many doctors believe that birthmarks actually form before the child is even born.
Does a Birthmark Tell You Who You’ll Be?
Are you always looking for the next amazing adventure? Do people revel over all your successes? If so, some people might believe your birthmark has something to do with it. A birthmark on the back is believed to signify that the child is openminded, while a birthmark on the right foot means you are born to be a traveler. While there is certainly no scientific evidence to prove any of this, it’s a fun superstition nonetheless.
All lore aside, many birthmarks are benign; however, it is best to see your dermatologist to have it evaluated and to make sure it isn’t malignant. There are several different kinds of birthmarks:
- Congenital melanocytic nevus: This more rare birthmark can be found anywhere on the body and is usually light brown or sometimes black, depending on the person’s skin color.
- Mongolian spots: A bluishgray marking that may look similar to a bruise.
- Port wine stain: A purple or red blemish that often appears on the face.
- Telangiectatic nevus: Sometimes referred to as a “stork bite” or “angel kiss”, these slightly red patches are often found on the face or back of the neck.
- Hemangiomas: A raised, red mark sometimes referred to as a “strawberry mark”
- Café au lait spots: This birthmark is characterized by circular, light brown spots
- Silvermark: A silver or white streak in the hair.
If you are unhappy with or embarrassed by your birthmark then you may also want to talk to your dermatologist about having it removed. Both surgery and laser treatments may be options for having your skin blemish removed.
Eczema is a chronic skin condition that produces itchy rashes that are scaly, dry, and leathery. It can appear anywhere on the body and most often appears in the creases of the arms, legs, and face. Something that many people may not know is that there are multiple types of eczema. They all share some common symptoms but are all different depending on the nature of what triggers the reaction and the location of the rash.
Types of Eczema
This is the most frequent and common form of eczema and it’s thought to be caused by the body’s immune system functioning abnormally. It’s characterized by itchy, inflamed skin and typically runs in families. Atopic Dermatitis usually flares up and goes away intermittently throughout a person’s life.
This is caused when the skin comes in contact with an irritant such as certain chemicals. Finding what triggers a breakout is important so that it can be prevented in the future. Triggers may be things like laundry detergent, body soap, fabrics, poison ivy, and more.
Dyshidrotic Dermatitis usually affects the palms and soles of the feet. It is characterized by clear, deep blisters that itch and burn and occurs frequently during summer months and in warm areas.
This form of eczema is a chronic skin inflammation caused by a cycle of scratching to a localized itch, such as a mosquito bite or spider bite. It’s characterized by scaly patches of skin, usually on the head, lower legs, wrists, and forearms. The skin may become thickened and leathery.
This form is characterized by round patches of irritated skin that can be crusted, scaly, and very itchy. It frequently appears on the back, arms, buttocks, and lower legs.
This is a common condition that causes yellow, oily, and scaly patches on the scalp, face, and other body parts. Dandruff is a form of Seborrheic Dermatitis. This form of eczema doesn’t always itch. Triggers can include weather, oily skin, emotional stress, and infrequent shampooing.
This appears on the lower legs of older people and is related to circulation and vein problems. Symptoms can include itching and red-brown discoloration on the skin the legs. As the condition progresses it can lead to blistering, oozing, and skin lesions.
Eczema comes in all shapes and sizes and can be triggered by many things. If you have questions about eczema or want to make an appointment, call our office today!
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